Much like there are food deserts throughout the country, I’d count airports among the places with some of the worst food options around. Sure, if you do some digging you can find a few sorry, overpriced bananas or red delicious apples, and maybe some packages of raw nuts in Hudson News. Can we pause for a moment and talk about why red delicious apples are so prevalent? They’re arguably the least delicious of all apples — instead they’re sad, waxy, and practically devoid of flavor. Their only redeeming quality is that they look like a quintessential apple, which is probably one of the main reasons that they are everywhere. But I digress.
On our flight from Los Angeles to New York City, I was fully prepared for a day of travel. Empty water bottle to fill up after going through security, an apple, banana, and pink lady apple that I packed at home, and a big tupperware full of recently dehydrated homemade kale chips. But on our flight back west today, I am woefully unprepared and despite scouring the meager options in Terminal A of Newark Airport, have resigned myself to a day of fasting until we get back home. I sit here looking directly at a wall full of candy, chips, cookies, and crackers. To my right is a coffee stand with a bursting pastry display, nary a vegan option in sight. To the left of the pastries lie some sugar-laden (and in lots of cases, honey-laden) granola bars that, if I were truly famished, I might think about purchasing, save for the fact that they all contain the ingredient dreaded by vegans everywhere: milk fat. It boggles the mind why food manufacturers choose to add milk fat to items that would otherwise be dairy-free, but such is the world we live in.
I briefly perked up at the Ruby Tuesday To-Go stand when I saw a big, luscious display of garden salads…but much to my chagrin, they were overpriced and topped with not one, but two types of cheese. I’m kicking myself for not at least packing a peanut butter sandwich from my in-laws’ house, but we were in such a rush to leave that I neglected to do so. My husband and I actually just now decided to forgo any food at the airport, and instead indulge in Veggie Grill as soon as we touch down in Los Angeles — land of sunshine, sea breeze, and vegan options galore. He suggested getting an apple and a banana, but on principle alone, I refuse to pay $6.00 for two pieces of fruit that, let’s be real here, have probably been sitting on that shelf for days. Instead, I shelled out $7.00 for two passably decent coffees. I was ready to drink mine black, assuming that they had no dairy-free milk options…but was pleasantly surprised to hear “yes!” when I asked if they had soy milk. I’ll chalk that up to one small victory for airport vegans, and hope for a day when healthy, delicious, vegan options can be found in every single airport.
So you don’t find yourself in the same pickle that I’m currently in, here are some of my go-to vegan meals and snacks that I’ve packed in the past to enjoy mid-flight or while waiting at the airport:
- “turkey and cheese” wraps with mustard, lettuce, pickles, and cucumbers
- fruit salad filled with berries
- overnight oats (mine have always passed the liquid rule for carry-ons)
- DIY trail mix with carob chips and nuts
- dried fruit
- carrot sticks with peanut butter
- homemade granola bars or energy bites