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Vegan Travel Meal Ideas From a Former Flight Attendant! (Part 1)

June 24, 2011

(Super-secret information for flight crewmembers ONLY!!)

Vegan Snacks and Meals for the Regional Flight Attendant

(Okay, Okay…


For Anyone Who Travels a Lot)

By Alecia A. Lott

***PART ONE***

This is a post that I’d been working on for a while.  I recently quit my job as a flight attendant, but ahhh I have fond memories…

People seem to think it’s so difficult to be a vegan and a flight attendant at the same time.  Eh, it was and it wasn’t.  I just dealt with it.

Sometimes my job would me away from home for up to 4 days at a time, and eating at Subway because there were no other veg-friendly options available got tiresome quickly.  Sometimes there’s not even a Subway or ANYTHING within walking distance of the hotel and nothing vegetarian on the hotel’s ridiculously-expensive dining menu.

Thus, my food bag was extremely important to me. After a 12-hour day, all I wanted to do was take off my uniform, wash my hands very, very well with the Lush soap I brought (I saved the hotel soaps for my mother) and unpack all my goodies. Food is love, indeed.

In this three-part series, I’ll discuss my ideas for keeping fed while on the go!

This list is not just for flight attendants who work at regional airlines–such as Mesa, Mesaba, SkyWest, GoJet–but I worked for a regional carrier so I figured I’d represent!  :)

Packing Your Meals – Where to Begin?

Bringing enough food to cover at least half my meals over the course of a trip saved me a lot of time and money and kept me from starving. I’m hardly a chef, but I usually enjoy the food I’ve prepared according to my unique dietary needs.

The first thing you must think about is how you will transport your food.  For the frequent traveler, a cooler bag is a wise investment—there are so many options available online, in any shape, size and color you can dream up. I’ve written about my favorite brand already.  Some of them even have wheels. Whatever bag you choose, be sure it’s sturdy, leak-proof, has good insulation, and different compartments for utensils, condiments, etc. Also, get an ice pack for it or fill it with ice as necessary.

Odds ‘n Ends

Aside from the actual food, which will be discussed in Part Three, what should you put in your bag? Here are my suggestions:

  • Utensils: fork, spoon, knife and maybe even chopsticks. It might be a good idea to invest in bamboo utensils—they’re strong enough to withstand travel (plastic forks LOVE to break!) yet TSA-friendly. Better for the environment than plastic ones, too.
  • Do you have a drawer in your kitchen where you keep condiments from restaurants? Come on, everyone does. Bring packets of condiments and seasonings such as ketchup/mustard, salt/pepper, soy sauce, hot sauce or red pepper flakes for when your meal needs a little extra somethin’. Sometimes I even pack a lemon—lemon juice is a great way to “brighten up” the flavors of your food, as the chefs say.
  • I do use plastic bags and Gladware, but if you’re looking for more eco-friendly options they are available online. However, I have yet to find a lightweight, microwaveable solution that isn’t made of plastic.
  • Napkins! One can only use the the hotel’s towels for so long…
  • Stay hydrated. Bring an empty water bottle with you to fill up after you go through security. Flavored drink packets, though generally teeming with artificial flavorings, can be a lifesaver if the local water tastes bad. Many flight attendants swear by Emergen-C, for the vitamin boost and the flavor. If you like a special brand of instant coffee, bring small packets of it. Airplane coffee is revolting. There, I said it.
  • Hand sanitizer is a must. Bring a small bottle or packets, OR if you’re really cheap you can ask a flight attendant for some.
  • Mints/gum. You’ll thank me later.

Where you stay…

…will determine what you need to pack. If you have a choice in the matter–crewmembers don’t, unfortunately–keep meals in mind when choosing your lodging.

  • Find out if there are any veg-friendly restaurants in the area.  While I’m all about avoiding chain restaurants to save money and stave off boredom, but if there’s a locally-owned place nearby that looks really good and you can afford it, I say go for it! To me that’s part of the fun (okay, most of the fun) of travel.
  • It would be great to stay in a hotel that offers suites with kitchenettes so you can easily prepare meals, but those can be pricey and/or not conveniently located. Instead, try to find a hotel room with a microwave and/or mini-refrigerator. Some hotels don’t have enough appliances for every room but may have a few available that can be brought to your room upon request. If there’s a mini-bar, ask if the hotel will empty it out for you to use.
    • If you can’t get these appliances in your room, see if the hotel has an employee break area where you can refrigerate/heat your food. If all else fails, use ice from the ice machine to keep your meals chilled and use hot water from the coffeemaker—almost every hotel room has a coffeemaker—for instant soup. (Please don’t put food inside the coffee pot!  Uggghh)
  • Look for a hotel near a grocery store, health-food store, co-op, or farmers’ market. I always like to supplement my meals with fresh, more perishable items whenever possible, and you can pick up small quantities of liquids like soy milk or hummus.
  • See if your hotel offers free breakfast, and if you’re feeling really bold, find out what they serve before you leave home. If they serve bread/bagels, then you won’t need to pack those. If they serve potatoes, perhaps bring some fake meat or veggies to go with it.

Well, that’s all I have for Part One… Stay tuned for security warnings, my tips for eating on the plane, and FOOD IDEAS!

What do you think so far?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2011 7:36 pm

    This is timely, as a bunch of us who work together are headed on a work trip in September (we’re all coming from different states) and we’ve been kind of warned that our food options are going to be sketchy! Thanks for the insulated lunch bag reminder, too–I look forward to parts 2 and 3.

  2. June 26, 2011 7:59 pm

    Hey again Angel! Glad you liked it. :) Part 2 will be tomorrow. Where are you going, if you don’t mind my asking? Maybe I can suggest a place to eat…

  3. ellie permalink
    September 29, 2013 11:02 am

    I see you have food ideas on here. I was recently hired on as an FA and am trying to find compliant shoes, do you have any suggestions?

    • Alecia permalink
      September 29, 2013 5:15 pm

      Hi Ellie!
      Honestly, anywhere that you would normally buy shoes will probably have what you’re looking for. Plain black shoes or boots with no decorative stitching, zippers, peep-toes, etc. Because I’m frugal, my usual shoe places are Payless (their Mary Janes are pretty comfy!), Target and With the first two, the shoes may not last long but they’ll be inexpensive and compliant, depending on your airline of course. You can always buy 2-3 pairs of cheapies and upgrade once you start making more money, if you’d like. Hope that helps!
      Congratulations on your new sky-high career! You’ll love it. :)

      • Ally permalink
        January 24, 2016 1:55 pm

        Try vegetarian shoes ( a UK company) or Moo Shoes!

  4. Ally permalink
    January 24, 2016 1:53 pm

    I just applied online to be a flight attendant, so I have no idea where that will lead me but I am vegan and freaked after thinking about airplane food. Your blog was the first I found after searching “vegan flight attendant” and I’m glad I found it!!


  1. Vegan Travel Meal Ideas From a Former Flight Attendant! (Part 2) « Bang-Bang's Quest for Yay, Yum, and Yes
  2. Vegan Travel Meal Ideas From a Former Flight Attendant! (Part 3) « Bang-Bang's Quest for Yay, Yum, and Yes

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