|No seitan, either.
I, along with the rest of the world's population, have always loved complaining about crappy airport/airline eats, from micro-zapped burgers and cinnamon buns to stretchy, oversalted meats served in grim anti-melt trays better suited for tempered-plastic action figures than edible material.
Then, a few months back, I read this as-told-to article by Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States,
about the scarcity of vegan food options in airports and on flights. "Though their choices are limited, vegetarians can find some decent food at the airport," Pacelle writes. "Vegans have it a little tougher."
Though I cherish my curmudgeonly grumbles, I definitely empathize ï¿½ what about
vegans, who are often left terminally hungry on planes and in airports ill-equipped to provide even the meat eaters with tasty, healthy options?
I decided to tap into the local vegan cognoscenti to see what strategies they employ when stomachs start grumbling during the long haul to Point B. Hopefully this'll come in handy for those traveling this Thanksgiving, the busiest airport week of them all.
After the jump, check out vegan travel advice from Rich Landau
, Dynise Balcavage
of The Urban Vegan
and local vegan chef Rachel Klein
and Kate Jacoby
, the couple behind Seventh Street's famed Horizons
, are no strangers to air travel, as evidenced by their globally influenced menu and cookbooks.
If you're facing a super-long flight, Landau recommends hitting up a supermarket to grab easy, off-the-shelf stuff like rolls, roasted peppers, avocado, olives, tofu, pesto, tomatoes, etc. This way, it's easy to whip up a bunch of simple vegan sandwiches to tide you over until you're treated to a proper sit-down vegan/veg meal. (For the record, Landau and Jacoby adhere to a vegetarian, not vegan, diet.)
While Landau feels it's best to avoid airport food whenever possible ï¿½ "Flying does strange things to your body ï¿½ don't make it worse," he says ï¿½ he stills thinks it's a wise idea to brace yourself for unavoidable standards-lowering. "If [you don't], you will feel that much worse after you have eaten somewhere you normally wouldn't." In other words, while it's probably in your best interests to ignore terminal eats altogether, you are most likely going to find yourself in a fast food queue at some point during the trip. "Burger King has a decent Veggie Whopper that I have eaten more times than I care to admit, [but] you gotta show them that they weren't crazy for putting a veggie burger on the menu in the first place," he says.
"Finding vegan food during air travel is especially challenging," says Dynise Balcavage
, who lives in Philly and writes the blog The Urban Vegan.
Balcavage has an intimate understanding of the inherent annoyances of vegan air travel ï¿½ she's visited more than 30 countries. That's why she has a stable of eats ï¿½ Larabars, whole pieces of fruit, nuts and PB&Js on whole-grain bread, to name a few ï¿½ that are both easy to tote and easy to get through security. Balcavage also recommends calling your airline to inquire about the availability of an "Asian vegetarian" (often foreign airline code for vegan) in-flight option, but admits she has yet to meet one that's either tasty or filling; to remedy this, she sometimes brings along items to supplement the meal, from the aforementioned snacks to home-baked cookies and muffins.
In airports, Balcavage endorses the ever-vital practice of reading labels ï¿½ you may be surprised at your finds. "On a recent trip to Peru, I was shocked to find tons of cookies at the airport that were actually vegan," she says. And while fries and salads are often the only options during a tenuous layover, there are certain pitstops ï¿½ the Pret-a-Manger chain in London airports is one example ï¿½ that specialize in decent vegan meals.
"Remember it's only temporary," Balcavage reassures. "Once you get to your destination, you can go
all-out and order a four-course vegan meal. Look on HappyCow.net
to find vegan restaurants at your final destination."
Philly's Rachel Klein
, a vegan chef-for-hire who founded Miss Rachel's Traveling Fare
(check out her seasonal meal offerings
), does just that, researching spots to hit up once she's on the ground. She's also a proponent of indulging in a big meal before she leaves and packing non-perishables like cereal, Kashi bars and peanut butter sandwiches into her carry-on. As far as airport fast food is concerned, Klein says you can't go wrong with Taco Bell, where it's easy as seitan pie to snag burritos and tacos with beans, lettuce and tomato, sans meat, sour cream or cheese.