What options do U.S. airlines offer for vegan passengers?
Airline special meals have long included options for passengers who keep kosher, are vegetarians or need low-sugar foods, and now there's an increasing focus on catering to vegans, too.
United Airlines announced last month that it would start focusing on providing plant-based choices to its passengers. Though the airline is still finalizing its vegan menus, it provided samples of a few possible dishes during its Media Day in Chicago in October. Those options included red beet hummus with roasted vegetables, and roasted cauliflower with whipped hummus and pomegranate. In one form or another, all six major U.S. airlines provide options to their vegan customers. Here's a quick guide to what's available:
American Airlines says about a fifth of its premium-cabin meals on international flights are vegan-friendly.
"We offer vegan special meals in premium cabins on most system-wide flights," American told TPG in a statement. "We offer them in international main cabin as well. Today, about 23% of our customers choose to pre-order a vegan meal. Today, about 20% of our entrees across our international premium cabin meals are vegan. Our premium snack basket always offers several vegan options as well."
Some examples the airline provided for its vegan options are grilled cauliflower with chili and grilled vegetables served with a grilled eggplant appetizer, salad, multigrain roll and vegan chocolate brownie in international business class; and Mediterranean ratatouille with farro and apple, and grits with a barley quinoa cranberry salad, multigrain roll and vegan chocolate chip cookie in domestic first class.
According to the airline, a special vegan option is available in all cabins on any flight on which meals are served. Free Biscoff cookies and almonds are vegan options for travelers on any flight of more than 250 miles, and on routes of 900 miles or more there are a variety of for-purchase vegan items. The tapas snack box is mostly comprised of vegan selections; just the Rondele cheese spread is not. The Crave snack box has Wheat Thins, Skittles and Tic Tacs, and the Crunch snack box has vegan tortilla chips and salsa.
The largest low-cost carrier in the U.S. doesn't serve full meals, so options for in-flight eats are generally limited to packaged snacks. Southwest said the pretzels it serves onboard are the only real option for its vegan customers, but pointed out in an email statement that passengers are always "welcome to bring snacks that fit their respective diet needs."
"New York's hometown airline" built its brand partly on free snacks, and it delivers for its vegan customers, too. The Terra Blue chips it helped make famous are vegan, as are Popcorners served for free on its flights. In the for-purchase category, the fuel up snack box has apricots and apples, and roasted almonds. The Savor Up snack box has multi-grain crackers, hummus and Mario Herbed Spice Snack Items. The Jimca Grape and Salad Shaker, also a for-sale item, has its cheese packaged separately. And the airline seasonally serves fresh fruit.
In its premium Mint cabin, many of the tapas dishes can be prepared with non-vegan items like cheese left off, and customers can also request vegan special meals 24 hours before their flight.
The Seattle-based airline always has a vegetarian meal option onboard, and generally provides vegan-friendly options as well.
On Alaska flights longer than 90 minutes, the Mediterranean tapas pack is vegan-friendly, and on flights longer than 60 minutes, Alaska also offers complimentary Biscoff cookies. On flights more than 90 minutes, Alaska also sells vegan popcorn, potato chips and trail mix.
In premium class, the airline offers almond clusters, and in first class, Popcorners, fruit and nut mix and dark chocolate.