Vegan Travel Meal Ideas From a Former Flight Attendant! (Part 3)
(Super-secret information for flight crewmembers ONLY!!)
Vegan Snacks and Meals for the Regional Flight Attendant
For Anyone Who Travels a Lot)
By Alecia A. Lott
Alecia’s Favorite Vegan Travel Foods
This is by no means an exhaustive list, just something to give you some ideas. Some of the foods I’m suggesting may be no-brainers to those of you who have been vegan for a while, but I wanted to present as many possibilities as I could.
***If something on the list is in italics, it probably won’t taste good cold and you will need a microwave.
Good travel meals and snacks should, in my opinion:
- Not be too messy/smelly.
- Ideally, taste good hot or cold—I’ve learned the hard way that microwaves aren’t always available.
- Be (at least somewhat) wholesome and filling.
- Stay fresh and look appetizing for at least a couple days.
Snacks / Light Meals
- Fresh fruit: apples, oranges, pears, bananas, kiwi, grapes, strawberries…just pack them carefully! Peel and slice beforehand if possible.
- Crackers and: cheez, seitan, avocado, tomatoes…
- Vegetable sticks or cherry tomatoes with hummus
- Nuts and seeds. Try to bring dry-roasted, unsalted nuts, which are more difficult to find while traveling but healthier. I love walnuts, almonds, cashews and pumpkin seeds.
- Nut butter and apples, crackers, pretzels, fruit slices, graham crackers…
- Trail mix
- Granola / Chex mix (make sure it’s vegan!)
- Protein bars
- Meal replacement powder
- Dried fruit–I especially love prunes, cranberries and apricots.
- A big ol’ avocado. You might get funny looks if you eat it by itself on the plane, FYI. People are weird about avocados. You can use an old (clean) hotel room key to cut it open if you don’t have a knife. Sprinkle it with sea salt and it’s lovely.
- Sushi. Veggie rolls are a great snack or light meal.
- Instant soup, such as Dr. McDougall’s brand or instant miso soup without bonito (fish) flakes, or vegan ramen. Just add hot water.
- Edamame (soybeans). I love them! And you can eat them cold or steamed in the microwave.
- Popcorn, preferably popped on the stove at home. Have you tried it with cayenne pepper and nutritional yeast? YUM!
- Fruit leather
- Fake jerky, such as Stonewall’s Jerquee (my fave) or Primal Strips
- Olives and/or artichoke hearts. My favorite hotel room cocktail snack! I like to sprinkle them with hot pepper flakes.
- Giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables)
- Antipasto: combine the giardiniera, olives, artichoke hearts, and perhaps some roasted red peppers and sundried tomatoes for gourmet finger food.
- Oatmeal. You can make instant oatmeal on the plane, at Starbucks, in your hotel room, almost anywhere! Always pilfer a couple packets from your hotel.
- Wasabi peas
- Rice crackers
- Good-quality dark chocolate. A nice after-dinner (or mid-day) treat.
- Cookies, brownies and other vegan baked goods. These are difficult to find outside of health-food stores, so bring your own.
Are you sick of mushy oatmeal, fruit, toast, bagels and “breakfast potatoes”? Well, other vegan brekkie options are rare in hotels and restaurants, so plan ahead if you want to start the day off right.
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich. If your hotel offers a free breakfast buffet, they’ll likely have all the fixings for this. Peanut butter and apple is good as well.
- Bagels or toast w/PB, preserves, Tofutti cream cheese, or hummus. If you toast the bagel and put your toppings on before you leave home, it won’t get terribly soggy and TSA will probably be okay with it.
- Beans on toast! Very British, but a nice change of pace. Just use a can of vegetarian baked beans.
- Tofu scramble
- “Sausage” biscuit sandwich
- Unfrosted strawberry or blueberry Pop-Tarts. Not the healthiest thing but hey, there’s fruit in there somewhere, right?
- Breakfast burrito–I make a sweet version with peanut butter, banana, walnuts and raisins, all on a wheat tortilla. It’s the “PMS Special!”
- Breakfast burrito with tofu scramble. Pack fillings/tortilla separately.
- Cold cereal. Don’t forget your non-dairy milk of choice!
- Muffins, banana bread, cornbread…nom nom
Almost anything you eat at home can be packed for lunch/dinner, but not everything tastes good cold. Granted, there are a LOT of things that I’ll eat cold so feel free to disagree with me. Here are just a few ideas:
- Ratatouille. Here’s a recipe that looks promising…
- Tuscan White Beans, Greens, Tomato and Polenta. Use store-bought polenta (cornmeal mush) or make your own. Sauté some garlic with some green leafy vegs, such as kale, in olive oil. Add canned diced tomatoes and white beans (Cannellini, Navy, or Butter are my faves). Simple, but good! Freezes well. See pic below!
- Pasta with Pesto or Marinara Sauce
- Spicy Peanut Noodles with Broccoli
- Curried Lentils
- Aglio e olio…Spaghetti tossed with olive oil, red pepper flakes and sauteed garlic. Add basil and spinach if you’re really fancy. It’s messy and smelly but tasty!
- Stuffed peppers
- Chili and Cornbread
- Spanish Rice n’ Beans
- Super-Lazy Curried Chickpeas & Tomatoes (Can of chickpeas + can of tomatoes + curry powder and a bit of salt)
- Lentil Loaf, mashed potatoes + green beans
- Casserole! It travels well, it freezes well!
- Green bean
- Chili Mac
- Mexican Polenta
Drop that Boca patty! Screw those tasteless grilled veggie wraps that seem to be on every hotel dining menu! Make a real sammich that sticks to your ribs. For a lighter alternative to bread, try making a wrap with either a tortilla or a steamed collard leaf.
- Nut butter and preserves or fruit–duh
- Avocado & tomato with vegan mayo.
- Broccoli slaw, sun-dried tomato, artichoke hearts and hummus (You’ll find all the ingredients for this at any grocery store.)
- “Meatball” sub
- Lentil loaf
- BBQ seitan or tempeh
- “Tuna,” “Chicken,” or “Egg” salad (don’t you love all these quotation marks?)
- Lentil loaf, with extra ketchup
- TLT–tempeh (or tofu), lettuce, tomato. Add avocado and sprouts, too!
- Leftover pasta or grain dishes in a wrap–I like tabbouleh with lots of tomato.
- Falafel pita
- Stuffed grape leaf pita (tried this in a restaurant in Chicago once…mmm. It was just a bunch of canned stuffed grape leaves inside a pita with lettuce, tomato and hummus)
- Potato salad, coleslaw and seitan (Messy, but so good!)
- Spring/Summer Rolls
- A big, green salad. Yes, in theory you can order one anywhere but once you omit the non-vegan toppings what are you left with? Often, just iceburg lettuce and a few carrot shreds. And at a lot of fast-food places the salads are pre-made and have been sitting in a refrigerated case getting all funked-up with hard-boiled-egg residue, so… what was I talking about? Yeah. Just make your own dang salad.
- Pasta salad has saved my life so many times! It’s usually eaten cold but you can heat it as long as you don’t use a creamy dressing. Just combine any pasta (including couscous) and any vegetables, add some beans or other protein and a light dressing or just season with garlic powder, salt, pepper etc, olive oil and lemon juice.
- You can substitute brown rice, quinoa, or barley for the pasta.
- Roasted Beet Salad
- Fatoush salad
- Sweet Potato Salad
- Carrot & Raisin Salad–my favorite! Shredded carrots + raisins + garam masala (weird but good) + a bit of oil and agave nectar.
So, those are a few ideas… If you need more, try The Kitchn’s recent post, filled with vegan or easily veganizable ideas.
What are your favorite vegan travel foods?