Pictured: Airplane food, not vegan. Photograph by Robyn Lee.

From a previous eight month stint of living a vegan lifestyle, I can tell you that traveling as a vegan can be a daunting task. Though I'm a believer that being forced to eat on a plane or in an airport food court is not the most enjoyable no matter what your food preferences, vegans have it rough in the land of fried food and mystery ingredients in the terminal and in flight. Most airlines don't provide cuisine in coach—Jet Blue will give you (vegan but oily and gross) Terra Blues, Virgin America might deliver a box of cheese and crackers if there are leftovers from first class and the flight attendant is in a good mood. Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the U.S., suffers much more than a casual traveler like myself—not only is he vegan, but he's a frequent flier. With all of the restrictions in airports these days, taking approved food on a plane is increasingly more difficult. Pacelle has tried.

On a recent flight I brought a jar of vegan creamy peanut butter with me. 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.

Luckily he was able to take his peanut butter on the flight. However, I'd prefer snacks that are solid, inexpensive and less likely to confuse a TSA agent: fruit leather, whole grain crackers, homemade popped popcorn. While waiting in the airport, it's possible to find a packaged salad that could pass off as edible, but grabbing pizza, a chicken sandwich, or a burger is a convenience that most vegans don't have. Though I'm unfamiliar with airplane food courts around the country, Newark Airport has decent options (including a cereal bar) and SFO seems to have a wide range of cuisines available past the security gates. And—if you're a vegan who can be lazy on occasion—there's always french fries.


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