Gone are the days when you had to remember to stockpile vegan snacks in your carry-on for every trip. The plant-based movement has penetrated the world of airline food service, which up until recently, was notorious for less-than-delectable meals and a depressing lack of vegan options. Some of the worst reports include cucumber on bread, plums—yes, just plums—and unseasoned steamed vegetables with rice.
But if you’re flying home for Thanksgiving, these days, you can look forward to more than just vegan snack options. For the most part, on longer flights, completely vegan meals are available when you call ahead, and some have even made it onto the main menu. Bonus: many airlines will serve “special meals” first.
Specific meal options are always subject to change—particularly when dealing with supply chain issues—but here are a few airlines you can rely on to provide plant-based sustenance during your travels. But first, if you’re flying short-haul anytime soon, you’ll want to know all about vegan snacks.
Flying domestic? Grab these vegan snack options
If you’re flying domestically within the US, you may not require a full meal, but a snack is always a welcome distraction on a flight lasting more than 90 minutes.
If you’ve flown in the past three years, you’ve likely realized that salted peanuts are no longer available. In fact, most airlines banned them around 2018 and 2019 due to the risk they pose to passengers with severe peanut allergies. But many airlines have replaced the peanuts with something better (and no, it’s not hard pretzels, though those are pretty universal, too). We’re talking Biscoff cookies. These accidentally vegan crunchy cookies are served on Delta and American Airlines flights.
United used to carry Biscoff treats but replaced them with Oreo Thins, which were short-lived. In February 2023, the airline announced it was rolling out Undercover Snacks’ Dark Chocolate + Sea Salt Chocolate Crisps, which are vegan and gluten-free.
Those flying Jet Blue can look forward to munching on Stellar Vegan Butter Pretzel Braids and Sea Salt Popchips along with a black cup of Dunkin’ coffee—sorry, no soy milk yet. The information on available snacks is limited for other US airlines, but unless you’re flying Spirit, there should be some type of popcorn, nut, or chip option that’s vegan-friendly. Those unwilling to leave their snack cravings to chance should pack their own food—unless it’s a liquid or something quasi-liquid like hummus, you can get almost any food item through security.
11 best airlines for vegan food
1 Emirates Airlines
You don’t have to be in first or business class to get the vegan treatment on Emirates Airlines. Even those in economy can choose a vegan meal, but you do need to book the meal at least 24 hours before your flight. While the misir wot (an Ethiopian spicy red lentil stew with sautéed spinach, spiced potatoes, and carrots) is a common option, exact meals vary by flight, season, and destination. At the time of writing, the sample menu offers dishes like vegetable crêpes with a vegan spinach spring roll and fresh seasonal fruit. You might see other options like spinach and avocado mousseline, reported Time Out Dubai earlier this year, and in first class, Beyond Meat koftas are one of the tasty options on offer.
2 Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines always has a vegan meal available, but you’ll need to pre-order when you book your flight. The options range but always include the major vegan food groups. For example, sweet and sour tofu with fried noodles, mushrooms and spaghetti with beans, and scrambled tofu, salad, and olives are three reviewed options on Abillion—a vegan food review site.
3 American Airlines
About 23 percent of American Airlines’ customers choose to pre-order a vegan meal, according to information obtained in 2020. Grilled cauliflower with chili is just one example of the type of option the airline has offered in the past, but you might also find grilled vegetables served with a grilled eggplant caponata appetizer. A vegan salad, multigrain roll, and chocolate brownie may accompany the entrée, too.
4 Swiss International Air Lines
When an airline partners with Hiltl, the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, you know you’re in good hands. While there is a hot, vegetarian meal on long flights, you can also preorder an à la carte option from Hiltl while booking your flight. The meal, which doesn’t list any animal products in the ingredient list, includes a mesclun salad with Hiltl salad dressing, vegetable green curry with basmati rice, and mango mousse with fresh mango compote.
This popular European airline offers a range of vegan meal options for longer flights for those who pre-order ahead. However, its German subsidiary airline—Eurowings—provides more than just a bread roll and an assortment of grains, vegetables, and fruit. Right now, the airline’s bistro menu offers options like nut butter cups, lattes made with Oatly, and fries with vegan mayo.
Vegan meals rotate on Delta as part of its special meal program. Note that on its website, the airline lists “vegetarian (vegan) meal” as one of three vegetarian meal options, which is what you should specify when ordering. These meals are available to all classes on international flights and to first-class on certain cross-country domestic flights.
In March 2022, Delta also partnered with Impossible Foods and Black Sheep (a San Francisco Bay Area startup) to offer plant-based meat options, including an Impossible Burger and vegan lamb, on select long-haul flights for business class and first-class passengers. Complete your meal with a complimentary, Delta-stamped Biscoff cookie, and you’ll stave off hunger even if you get stuck on the runway waiting for a gate to open.
A vegan meal option is part of Qantas’ in-flight special menus, which vary by location and season. Expect to find any combination of rice, fruit, vegetables, grains, soy, pulses, tree nuts, or nut products. Both the Vegan Vegetarian Meal and the Jain Vegetarian Meal are plant-based. Choose the latter option if you’re in the mood for something made with Indian spices.
8 Alaska Airlines
In May 2023, Alaska Airlines announced its new first-class menu, complete with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. There’s the new Harissa & Chorizo Frittata, for example, which is made with JUST Egg. There’s also a Spicy Tofu Wrap, White Bean Chili with Grilled Polenta, and if you’re flying economy (like most of us!), then you can also grab a Banh Mi Salad with Tofu. This airline seems to refresh its menu often, so you can expect to see new vegan options in the future.
9 United Airlines
In the summer of 2022, United Airlines treated first-class passengers and customers in its United lounges to plant-based options made with meat from Impossible Foods. On select flights, there’s an Impossible Meatball Bowl option, for example, served with broccolini, couscous, and tomato sauce. Now, all domestic flights over 1,500 miles also offer vegan breakfast bagels, made with JUST Egg, vegan cheese, and harissa spread.
All Nippon Airways
10 All Nippon Airways
Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) started offering new vegan options, prepared in partnership with chef Hideki Takayama, in November 2022. The dishes are available on all flights out of Japan and include green curry and five-grain rice as well as cauliflower and tofu mousse with vegetable gelée.
11 Air Canada
Air Canada also updated its vegan menu for fall 2022. Its Bistro Menu, which was created by Montreal Chef Jérôme Ferrer, now offers a vegan chickpea wrap and mezete classic hummus and breadsticks, as well as vegan snacks, including Good to Go Blondies. Like most airlines, Air Canada offers a pre-order special meals service, but these are only offered on flights that do not serve the Air Canada Bistro menu.