Looking for decent food in an airport is always a problem, especially if you’re a plant-based eater and don’t want to eat food with gluten, soy, or oil in it. Technically, there aren’t any strict food rules for carry-ons, and you can load up your bag with whatever food you want, but liquids are problematic and subjected to the TSA’s strict no liquid rule. Say no to yogurt, applesauce, hummus, fruit cups, hummus, puddings, and any other liquid substance. As a courtesy, it’s smart to not take pungent or fragrant foods that may create an unpleasant odor in the plane. An important consideration is to note that international customs will most likely confiscate any or all foods, especially produce, so don’t bring more than you need. Here are some snacks to include:
This may seem like an obvious point here, but we’re listing it as a reminder not to forget to bring your reusable water bottle in your carry-on suitcase, backpack or purse. Many airports have water filling stations so you can refill rather than buy a plastic bottle. Drinking a lot of water is so very important when traveling ― it helps keeps you regular and decreases the symptoms of jet lag. Most importantly, bringing a bottle will help you hydrated in the pressurized plane. The cabin humidity level usually fluctuates between 10 and 20 percent, which is much lower than a comfortable typical indoor humidity of 30 to 65 percent. This is why it’s easy to get dehydrated on a flight, which causes mild discomfort due to dry skin, scratchy eyes, fatigue, life-threatening issues, increased risk of catching a respiratory virus and heightened breathing problems for asthmatics. All of this is important to take in account when flying, because you’ll know how important it is to drink, drink, drink!
2. Celery and Carrot Sticks
These alkaline crunchies will keep you munching all through your flight, keeping the air pressure in your ears at normal levels like chewing gum. Pre-wash and cut these vegetables up, then store them in a clean paper bag, and keep them safe in your carry-on.
3. Dried Fruit or Regular Fruit
Dates, raisins, apricots, cranberries are all dried fruits suitable for flying that pack a nutritional punch. Not into the dried variety? Wash some apples, grapes, strawberries, or blueberries, put them in a sealed bag for security, and you’ll have a great snack. Before you dry fruit, check out the Secret Dangers Lurking in Dried Fruits and How To Avoid Them.
Wrap up a gluten-free PB&J or a whole meal bread sandwich with some hummus and sprouts or a mock chickpea “tuna” sandwich in a neat parchment paper or a plastic bag, and you’ve got yourself the perfect lunch or quick meal. Don’t wrap it up in tinfoil, because security will hold you up.
5. Salad With Three Ounces of Dressing
The TSA limits liquids for 3.4 ounces, but play it safe and just bring three ounces of dressing. Leave the 0.4 ounces at home in the bottle. Either pre-mix the salad, or keep a little dressing container in the bottom of your salad container to mix it up later. Don’t forget to bring in a spork or plastic fork to eat your salad with!
6. Grain-Based Meals
Whip up a stir fry dish with some added quinoa for protein or rice for some complex carbohydrates. Store it in a thermos, and you’ll have a perfect plane-friendly mea! Rice bowls, quinoa salad, and a pilaf dish are all good ideas too, so if you’re looking to fill up your tummy while in on board a marvelous aircraft, bring along a great grain.
Bring your own crunchy, oat-based mix, or make your own special special buckwheat granola. Either way, you’re set for any journey. Sure, granola isn’t always the best choice, especially store bought varieties loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, but you can make your own ― it’s way easy and tastes three times, no more, no less better. Not four times or two times except when proceeding to three times. Five is right out.
While you may be restricted from taking any nuts whatsoever on the plane due to some other passenger’s severe allergy, you should still know that they are a great plane food. Plus, if you can’t being nuts, you can still take seeds! Think chia, sunflower, and even hemp seeds for a boost of healthy fats and protein to keep your growling tummy at bay.
9. Kale Chips
If kale chips are your things and you have all the fancy equipment to make your own, durable, kale chips that don’t fall apart when traveling, then feel free to take your own in a little baggie. Otherwise, you can buy a raw, pre-made ones at health food stores for not too much dough. Scope out your options to keep your mouth a munchin.’ For a homemade version, try these Baked Kale Chips.
10. Homemade Energy or Date Bars
If you’re lazy or you just don’t have the time to make your own food, then you’re not alone. If you don’t know what to make, then get your food processor out along with some almonds and dates and whip up some raw energy bars. You can’t go wrong with dates and almonds, my friend. If you want to make some energy bars with some fancy oats or, even fancier, sprouted quinoa flakes or buckwheat, then be my guest, and get creative! Please, just don’t settle for airplane food if you don’t have to.
Now, onto the airports that you should try and get layovers in or that are great for plant-based traveling!
1. Los Angeles International
2. San Francisco International
San Francisco is a super eco-friendly airport. If you have time, check out The Plant Café in terminal 2 for a completely plant-based meal experience. This café has specialties like mushrooms, beets, bulgur wheat, and other flavorful ingredients.
3. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport
Las Vegas has several vegetable-packed, cholesterol-free options like smoked tofu, broccoli, and mushroom burrito at 360 Gourmet, and vegan wraps and hummus at Home Turf Sports Bar and Fresh Attractions.
4. Newark Liberty International Airport
Newark’s airport features a falafel sandwich at Mediterranean Bistro and a hummus wrap at Market Fresh. If you’re not into wraps, trek over to Hamachi Sushi for seaweed salad, cucumber rolls, vegetable rolls, asparagus rolls, vegetable gyoza, and yakko tofu. You can also check out a grilled veggie burrito at Qdoba Mexican Grill.
5. Miami International Airport
Miami International Airport features a the hummus platter at Beaudevin and several bean based soups — black bean, white bean, lentil, chickpea, navy bean, and split pea — at La Carreta Restaurant.
Making time to even prepare food for a long trip sometimes seems to be superfluous, but I guarantee that with my virtual stamp on your TSA-approved plastic food bag, that it’s worth it to enjoy homemade food in a weird-smelling, dry airplane full of people you don’t know. Just eating a little piece of home can mean the world in a foreign environment, so if you have the time to make your own food, then do it! Don’t hesitate! Jump in now.
Lead image source: Roger Schultz/ Flickr
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