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 in bread, plums—yes, just plums—and steamed, unseasoned vegetables and rice. Tasty.)
These days, most vegans can look forward to more than just the 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, which means you could be halfway through your salad before your seatmate is served his questionable-looking meat and gravy.)
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.
US domestic 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. While those without this particular food allergy sorely miss those roasted, salty snacks, 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. As of spring 2022, the only complimentary vegan snack offered on United is GourmetNut Mega Trail Mix, though the Recline Snack Box can be purchased for $8. The latter is complete with hard pretzels, red licorice, Oreos, and LesserEvil popcorn.
Those flying Jet Blue can look forward to munching on 88 Acres Seed Bar Things and PopCorners Popcorn Chips 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.
If it’s not misir wot, you might see others like Tofu Jalfrezi, Shiitake Ravioli, or Ancho Three-bean Chili. Or you could be treated to one of the airline’s newer options, which include Multi Colored Quinoa with Caramelized Pear and Celeriac Purée and desserts like Chocolate Tofu Cheesecake. And, if you are lucky enough to be flying in first or business class, as of fall 2022, the airline has developed a new curated menu, which includes kofta made with Beyond Meat.
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 are traditionally prepared in a “Western” style and always include the major vegan food groups. For example, spaghetti marinara served with salad, fruit, and a bread roll or chili with rice, steamed veggies, salad, and fruit are two recently 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, 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 vegetarian hot 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. Eurowings partnered with Berlin-based vegan supermarket, Veganz, to serve vegan gummy bears beginning in May 2022. Depending on who you ask, these whimsical treats may be even better than Biscoff.
Vegan meals, such as a lentil and artichoke ragout, 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, grain, 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 October 2022, Alaska Airlines announced its new fall menu, complete with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. There’s the Brusselin’ Vegan Salad, for example, which was created in partnership with Evergreens, a Seattle-based fast-casual restaurant, and features Tuscan kale, romaine lettuce, shaved brussels sprouts, and more. There’s also a new Chickpea Teriyaki, and for flights under 1,100 miles, there’s now a vegan quinoa salad option (for first class only).
The airline seems to refresh its menu seasonally, so you can expect to see new vegan options in the future. Prior to the 2022 fall menu, it offered a vegan summer salad option called Soy Meets World with greens and fried tofu.
9 United Airlines
In the summer of 2022, United Airlines treated customers in its United lounges and its first-class passengers 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 vegetarian breakfast sandwiches, made with Impossible Foods’ sausage patties.
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 a Chickpea Hamburger Steak with Vegetable Curry and Vegetable Pilaf Stewed Red Lentils & Vegetables.
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 Farro Salad and Spiced Chickpea Wrap, 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.