Vegan Travel

I read a rather funny description of flying as a vegan in Monday's New York Times.  The article was authored by Wayne Pacelle, of the US Humane Society and let me tell you, I can relate!  Pacelle talks about his travails trying to get peanut butter through security -- "The security agent insisted that my carry-on food product was a cream, and therefore a forbidden substance. A rather strange discussion ensued in which I tried to explain that peanut butter was a solid with a “creamy” consistency. Creamy was, in this case, an adjective. And the peanut butter should not be thrown in the trash."

Although Pacelle doesn't offer tips for getting through air travel, he does mention he is occasionally served Biscoff cookies onboard certain airlines (but doesn't tell us which ones) and says they taste great and are a safe choice for vegans.  If you're curious, you can find them here at Amazon.  (Note: the Biscoff with Chocolate, the Sinful Biscoff, the Snowflake Wrapped Biscoff, and the Nutcracker Wrapped Biscoff all contain milk, and are therefore not suitable for vegans.)

Our strategy is to bring our own vegan goodies.  We tend to keep a few vegan protein bars in the house, and always have nuts on hand, so that covers any spur of the moment activities.  If we have time to plan ahead, Jane makes sure to bring us things that travel well.  Often we'll bring a travel container of hummus, some vegan pretzels, and fruit.  And if I'm really lucky, Jane will bake some goodies ahead of time (banana nut muffins or brownies), and we'll have those too.

Although there wasn't a lot to the article, we do share Pacelle's dream of one day being able to walk through every airport and find wholesome vegan fare that is easily accessible.


  1. Luckily (sort of), any airline I’ve flown with has only offered the plain Biscoffs. I’m glad the NYT article came out when it did; I’ll be taking my first flight as a vegan on the 24th. It shouldn’t be too long (NYC to Austin), but I have the sort of luck that makes all flights long!

  2. I used to enjoy flying but the past few years as service has gotten horrible, I have come to loathe it. When I’m traveling around, I like to keep a healthy trail mix and some sliced up fruit with me as well as a Clif bar or 10 😉

    Even putting aside the vegan aspect of eating while traveling, I find it important to eat only foods that are really nutritious and provide steady energy. This way, when your plane gets delayed by 2 hours (which is apparently standard these days) you aren’t left in a zombie-like state from a food coma. Most of the crap they have at the airports is junk and I hated eating it even when I didn’t find it morally offensive 🙂

    (p.s. have you thought about changing your commenting system to disqus? I’ve recently gotten into it and it’s easy and fun. I also think it helps foster inter-blog discussion a bit, which might be helpful to the vegan blogging community.)

  3. hey you just added me on Twitter!

    i fly a lot and basically have come to refuse all airline meals. on Continental (if i recall correctly) their “pure vegetarian” meal option includes cheesy food and non-vegan butter.

    no amount of pleading with the staff will magically put vegan food on the plane once it’s taken off, so i usually keep my backpack well-stocked with Primal Strips and Clif Bars (which are at best only snacks). most recently i made a BBQ sandwich out of seitan that my girlfriend and i made, and the staff were very inquisitive.

    also, i’ve flown business class a few times – where the meals are usually hilariously fancy – still the vegan options are non-existent.

    this comment was longer than i’d intended. anyway, my name is anthony and we have a blog too! wordpress cutline theme ftw woo woo

  4. Hi Nate,
    Thanks for sharing. And if I wasn’t concerned about the weather, I’d try to connect thru Minneapolis all the time too. I like the airport in general, but the few times I’ve flown thru there in winter have resulted in all kinds of horrid delays. (I know, they’re all pretty bad.)

    Hi Seitan,
    Good luck on your flight. The best thing we can suggest is to plan ahead and to expect delays. Did you enjoy the Biscoffs?
    And have a good trip 🙂

    Hi Kara,
    I’m not sure what all the regulations are these days, but we haven’t found that to be the case. We’ve had a bit of international travel in ’06 and ’07 were able to bring things to eat on the plane, but couldn’t take the food into the new country. (We had to throw it in the trash before going thru customs – which I find a little ironic. Is the arrivals airport in another country?)

    Hi Sat,
    Yes, flying is abominable these days. (Never mind the airfare and all the ridiculous surcharges.) As for the food, it’s been awful as along as I can remember, but now many of the airlines are CHARGING for the awful fare. But we’ve learned to make sure we’ve got enough food with us to make it through the travel experience. And in winter, that means food for more than one day.

    Hi Kelly,
    Yes, it is…. but so far, we haven’t been challenged. Either we look innocuous enough, or there is a hummus allowance. 😉 We have been required to throw away our soy yogurt though, and once a chocolate dessert….

    Hi Anthony,
    I haven’t heard of Primal Strips before. I’ll have to look for them. The sandwich sounds delicious.
    I can’t really blame the airlines for not catering to vegans, we’re not even 5% of the population, however if you travel internationally, some of the airlines really have it down. We flew EVA air last year… I think there were 11 different cuisines to choose from and 4 of them were types of vegetarian fare (Hindu, Muslim, American…) I don’t remember all the iterations, but we were amazed by the choice. And whatever we ate wasn’t bad. Not great, but better than what we expected!
    Your sandwich idea is making me hungry!

  5. Hi Sat
    (Forgot to add) – We’re actually working on updating our look a bit…so thanks for the suggestion. I’m not sure where we’ll wind up with comments. But changes are in the works…

  6. I used to enjoy flying because it was an adventure. But when you fly frequently, it becomes a major hassle. Now I tend to avoid flying and I’ll even drive long distances instead sometimes. According to some calculations, driving a hybrid is better for the environment than flying, so…

    Anyway, my vegan flight strategy is to wing it. (har har, airline pun.) I have a terrible time getting foods through security so I just count on buying something on the other side of the security line. I look for plain nuts and fruits mostly, but occasionally I’m surprised by a full meal. Lots of airports are getting better about providing healthful food options these days and I even found a vegan Philly steak sandwich at one airport, imagine that!

  7. Hi Elaine,
    I used to enjoy flying too… now I endure it. It’s kind of difficult to get the time to drive back and forth from CA to NY, and still have time left for vacation and visiting friends… Maybe one day we’ll have a hybrid plane.
    We haven’t had any difficulty getting fruit, nuts and bars through security. Hopefully I didn’t just jinx myself!
    Wow, a vegan philly steak sandwich? Do you remember where?

  8. I´m coming a little late to the commenting but I´ve flown a few times as a vegan and feel pretty comfortable in the travel now.

    Always at least try to order a pure veg or strict veg meal. Yes you might get it and it´s crap but at least try. So far I´ve flown Continental and Olympic (a Greek airline) to Greece and the dinners are actually passable. There is always something nonvegan on the plate but over looking that I was pleasantly surprised. Breakfast on the other hand, don´t hold your breath.

    After saying that. Assume you will not be fed, ever again. I make sure to have plenty of bars (raw, fruity, primal strips, cereal) variety so you have choice, it? a comfort thing. I fill my ¨1qt ziplock bag¨ with 2oz containers of ¨liquids and creams¨ peanut butter, hummus, whatever. I haven´t had any trouble with security once unless you count the checkpoint in Athens airport where the lady had a little giggle at me after asking what it was but she didn´t take it away. 🙂

    Now I feel like a vacation.

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