Frugal Traveler

Frugal Traveler: Vegan air travel on a budget

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceApril 20, 2013 

Navigating vegan vacations on the ground is one thing, but frequent travelers need more than basic salted nuts in order to stay fueled for problem solving in the air. Sure, more airport venues are stepping up with veggie burgers and individual fruit purchases, but once your plane goes wheels up you’re basically trapped in a closed system until you get where you’re going.

With fewer flights offering meal selections these days, even the old standby option of ordering a special vegan dinner selection ahead of time is difficult to implement with regularity. If pretzels don’t have a place on your list of preferred travel snacks, you’ll need to pack your own.

Following are just a few of the food finds I recently discovered while shopping for workable personal solutions for vegan air travel.

Boxes: Traditional home-boxed lunches may or may not pass security scrutiny, depending on what you pack. However, Go Picnic offers a variety of prepackaged meals including one vegan option I ordered by the case to test for a recent international flight. The meal consisted of shelf-stable hummus, crackers, two different nut-and-seed mixes and a piece of dark chocolate seasoned with sea salt. Purchased through my Amazon Prime membership, which provides free shipping, my cost per boxed meal was roughly $4.

Additional vegan products the company offers include a black bean dip and plantain chips picnic, one with sunflower seed butter, a three-bean dip with rice chips option and more. Most are available at roughly the same cost of $4 per boxed picnic as the hummus lunches that I ordered in bulk. As someone who keeps a close eye on plastic waste, I’d like to see them put a bit more effort into sustainable packaging, but it’s nice to see a product available that doesn’t require me to compromise my food choices.

Packets: In the cereal aisle at my nearest Whole Foods, I purchased packets of instant organic oatmeal by the box to take on the plane. Since most airlines still offer a hot beverage service, it’s possible to pour the cereal into a coffee cup and add the hot water the flight attendants make available for tea. At less than a buck per envelope, I had a healthy and efficiently packed alternative that could fit in the pocket of my jacket.

Another penny-pinching packet solution presented itself in the form of a Tasty Bite envelope – a seasoned multigrain and soy bean pack at the grocery store. Granted, this one is a bit tough to eat on the plane unless the staff is willing to heat it up for you. However, it’s easily transported in a carry-on and provides you with something to microwave in your hotel room if your flight arrives too late for take-out goodies to be an option. The products are available at many major grocery chains and can also be ordered over the Internet.

Myscha TheriaultMcClatchy-Tribune News Service

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