Are there no vegans on airplanes?

In a perfect world, airline travel as a vegan would be simple, well, all vegan life would be simple. We’d see that little cart rolling down the aisle towards us and, without dread, await your (mostly) delicious vegan meal along with everyone else. However, if you have ever tried to do that as a vegan, you have likely found yourself disappointed, and hungry…dry bread and stale salad anyone? Instead of a tolerable meal, we get the choice of meat, meat or cheese slathered pasta, blah. While some airlines have started to offer vegan/vegetarian options, they tend to be very limited and often miss the mark, serving food with pats of butter and other types of dairy. Don’t try to get more than one thing, like vegan AND gluten free. You are likely to be unsuccessful.

Vegans plan ahead, and ahead again

So how does one travel and not starve? By doing what all vegans do for most events, by bringing your own food!  If this sounds complicated, rest assured, it really is not that difficult with a little planning. You can choose to go one of a couple ways here as well. When done right, some people may even be jealous of your delicious food and endless snacks for your kids, while they are sitting there eating their cold bread and tv dinner grub.

Some initial tips

The first thing you will want to do is get some cheap food containers. You don’t want to lose or damage your fancy food containers, unless you are a risk taker. Then sit down and decide what you want based on how long your flight is, who is traveling with you and what is going to keep you (and them) satisfied and away from expensive, unhealthy airport food. Keep in mind that sauces and soups will be counted as a liquid so if you go that route, you will need to have them in those 3 ounce containers.

Another thing to consider is temperature. You don’t want to make something you wouldn’t want to eat cold. Also be mindful of fruit and vegetables if you are flying internationally. Many countries want to prevent you from bringing fruit and vegetables in to their country so you’ll need to be prepared finish the food or discard it once you land (don’t toss your containers though!). Many airports have customs rules on their websites so it’s good to do some investigation. One last thing to consider is possible flight delays. If that happens, you will want to have more food on hand so you aren’t lured to the airport food. Because of that, it may be beneficial to plan for that possibility and bring extra food.

Make your own food

This will likely the most inexpensive way to go but not always the easiest if you don’t like making food. Food choices can range from salads to rice/noodle dishes to sandwiches and beyond. If the food is just for yourself, a quinoa and/or lettuce salad in one container and a sandwich in another, add a few snacks based of veggies, crackers and nuts and that should suffice.

If you prefer a more savory dish and/or if you have more people, especially kids, traveling with you, you might want to make something hearty. A stir fry with a rice or noodle base is a really great option. Or even a chili providing you don’t mind eating it cold. Give everyone their own container of food so there is no fighting. If you have a flight that is five hours or more, pack multiple containers per person. It is definitely better to have too much food!

Here are some great ideas:

  • Quinoa Salad with corn and black beans
  • Romaine salad with mixed veggies, beans and tofu
  • Various types of sandwiches and wraps: PB&J, roasted vegetables, cheezy garlic tomato
  • Rice or noodle based stir fry with mixed vegetables and tofu
  • Noodles in an garlicky sauce with roasted asparagus
Order some takeout!

There is little better than an Asian restaurant with vegan dishes, or some falafel, baba ghanoush, grape leaves, salad and hummus, or vegan sushi, edamame, and spring roll …or whatever other takeout you may fancy. Depending on how hungry you are (or will be) and how big your party is, call in for some take out, transfer it out of the cartons and into your containers and you’re done, boom.

Snacks!

Unless you are one of the rare amazing people who rarely snacks, various ones should be packed up in that carry on bag.  Again, depending on who is traveling with you (or not), well planned out snacks can keep your hunger at bay as well as satisfy those anxious kiddos who are doing their best to behave in a possibly chaotic environment. You can even use them as incentives for kids to behave in the security line!

Snacks can easily include:

  • Healthy: Raw veggies, sliced fruit, olives, nuts, tofu cubes, nori strips, and hummus
  • Less healthy: Vegan cheese cubes, crunchy snacks like chips, popcorn, trail mixes and crackers as well as sweets like vegan baked goods, candy and gum
    • Candy and gum and even chips can help to incentivize good behavior in your kids
What about the way back?

The way back can be a little trickier depending on where you are going. If you are with family, then the same rules apply with making your own food and bringing it with you. If you don’t have access to cook many things, perhaps you are somewhere in which you can choose the take out option or even order food from your hotel kitchen. Do some exploring of the area, you are bound to find something you can take with you! You saved your containers (right?!)

Finally, don’t forget some forks, spoons and napkins….but leave the knife behind!