Spring time is quickly approaching and people will be putting away the hats and gloves to travel with their families, friends, or alone to places such as Disney, a cruise, a tropical island, or the warm sandy beaches in Florida. But there is one challenge that some of us face…where and what can we eat to ensure we are still maintaining a healthy vegan diet while traveling? You can often be stuck sitting on a plane for long periods of time—sometimes hours—without many options available to eat.
On planes there is a menu tucked in the back of each seat along with the emergency and safety instructions. This menu will have very beautiful and colorful pictures of foods that look like they are made from scratch, including sandwiches, salads, snacks and drinks. As you grab it and look it over, your stomach is growling, but there are no options for a hungry vegan.
Then, you watch as the person next to you orders food. When the attendant goes over to the metal storage container and brings the food over to the passenger, it looks nothing like what was pictured on the menu. The ingredients are a list of things that even a scientist cannot pronounce–mostly preservatives, fillers, artificial flavors and colors. The calorie content is usually high and so are the oils, sodium and fat. The expiration date is the year that you will retire. The meal is packaged in convenient plastic containers with a tear off cellophane top. It also comes with a bag of chips on the side. Not only are the items on the menu unhealthy, but there are no vegan options. So what’s a hungry vegan traveler to do?
My husband and I, who eat a healthy vegan diet, traveled recently to Las Vegas and our flight had 2 lay overs. We were in airports and planes from morning until early evening. Since the TSA can be strict on what we can take on a plane, I had to do some planning on what to eat during our long journey across the country. The airlines allow food as long as it is not in liquid form or gels.
Our flight left early in the morning, so for breakfast I made us peanut butter and banana sandwiches on sprouted bread, which we had at the airport after getting through security. I also made big zip lock bags of delicious spiced roasted garlic chick peas for the plane ride, and granola for when we would be site seeing and walking around. On the plane, we munched on our chick peas while reading our books and it was enough to satisfy our hunger pains while up in the air. The recipe below is what I made for our trip.
GARLICKY ROASTED CHICK PEAS
- 3 cans of chick peas (BPA free cans) or as many can as you want, you can even use dried chick peas, only it is a longer processes to cook
- 2 table spoons of coconut oil, melted
- 1 cup of cashews soaked for a couple hours (or any other nuts or seeds you like)
- 2 -3 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp rosemary
- ½ tsp cayenne (or more if you like them with a super kick)
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- Sea salt and a pinch of pepper
First preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper. Rinse the chick peas well and then let them sit in the colander for a bit to dry out. Then, put them in a zip lock back or container with all the spices and oil and shake them up so they are all evenly coated. Put them on a cookie sheet (may have to use 2), making sure they are not overlapping. Cook them for about 40 minutes. About half way through, take them out and stir them up a bit. And take your soaked nuts, rinse them out and spread them on the cookie sheet with the chick peas and give them another stir with your spatula. When they are done they should be crispy. Let them cool before putting them in a container or zip lock bag.
These chick pea treats will last for up to a week and are great for a plane ride or to take along while site seeing. There are many different variations of the recipe and it is fun to experiment with different spices and herbs to add in. They are also great with some chopped cilantro, thyme, basil, or sage with tamari and nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. Try some cinnamon and nutmeg and add pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the menus on flights will change anytime soon. So until then, take some time to make this simple, quick and healthy recipe, stock up on chick peas and other healthy vegan snacks to take on your trip. Be creative—there are some great recipes for other delicious vegan snacks to take along with you while traveling. By doing this you will know that you are eating healthy, you’ll know all the ingredients, and you’ll save money.
OTHER TIPS FOR A VEGAN TRAVELER
- Most restaurants in the airport are accommodating. Ask the server to omit an ingredient or to make a different variation of something.
- Some airline menus will offer a salad option, simply have it with no or very little dressing.
- Print out a list ahead of time of vegan restaurants, health food stores, and grocery stores from Happy Cow (and you can download their app too).
- Stores located inside airports will have convenient snacks in a pinch, but remember to read those ingredients. Things like trail mixes can contain lots of sugars and oils.
Remember: being a vegan traveler should be enjoyable, not challenging.
Image sources: CompeteOutsideTheBox.com
About Author Cheryl Coelho: New Years Eve 2008 and a resolution changed my life forever. I wanted to become healthier so I trained for a 5k. I was instantly hooked. Then, I decided to go back to school and earn my Bachelor’s in Health & Wellness and my personal trainer certificate. After watching the movie Food Inc., I decided to become vegetarian, which then led to reading, researching and watching everything I could to learn about the food industry. About a year after that I became vegan and earned my certificate in plant based nutrition at Cornell University. I now run marathons, bike, lift weight, yoga and have been featured in Vegan Health & Fitness magazine. As I continue to grow, it is my passion to educate other on becoming vegan for life.