Help me fly the vegan skies
May 24, 2008 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Vegan airport/airline dining - connect and lunch in Dallas (DFO) or Chicago (ORD)? Somewhere else? How long to allow for a connection to assure we can eat at the restaurant you recommend? We're traveling from Raleigh-Durham to San Francisco and it's looking kind of grim for in-flight meals; it's > 7 hours overall travel time but broken into two segments; best advice for not-having-to-pack-lunch?

I can't tell if the (currently American Airlines) flights that I'm looking at offer a meal - everything involves a connection, so the individual flights may not be long enough. There's an icon of a dollar sign + knife + fork; I'm guessing that means I can purchase a snack/meal, but none of the purchasable options look even vaguely vegetarian.

The Continental flights I've seen offer no meals. Anybody know of a way to get a vegetarian/vegan meal in the air between Raleigh and San Francisco?

I'd really like to not have to carry food with me and pasta/bread/crackers will not give me the energy I want for starting our trip!

Any advice on dining in airports on the way? I'm currently looking at flights that connect through Dallas (DFW) or Chicago O'Hare (ORD), but if you know of a good food airport en route between Raleigh and San Francisco, please let me know.

I found restaurant listings for ORD - didn't look good. The Dallas airport looked like it might be slightly better, but the listing is broken up into four or five different terminals and nothing leapt out at me.
posted by amtho to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
Best answer: DFO and Midway (dunno about ORD) both have good Mexican food - I've never asked if the tortillas and beans are vegan, however. Even if they do offer a meal on your flight, you're unlikely to be able to get a PURE VEG meal like they used to - chances are everyone will have a burger or chicken sandwich. Most airports will offer an ABP-like place with a salad and bananas.

Really, your best bet if you wnt to be sure of veganity is to bring your own and buy beverages. A delayed flight might mean you have less time to make your connection, or the restaurant with one vegan option you want to try will be closed, or who knows what. Even if it works out the food will be overpriced and underwhelming. Pack some PBJs or hummus sandwichs or clif bars or whatever.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:01 PM on May 24, 2008

As a traveling vegan, I'd say you're better off carrying some food with you than not. What if one leg of the flight gets delayed, and you're stuck in an airport for hours where your choices are...plain bagels and...expensive salads??

I'm an omnivore, and on every x-country flight I pack a little ziplock bag of almonds/cashews+dried fruit, maybe some cheese (not for you, obviously), and something like a Lara bar. This guarantees that if the airplane food sucks, or if there's a delay, I will not develop the indecisive crankiness that afflicts me when I'm starving. It takes up virtually no room, and none of of it is messy or smelly, nor does it require cutlery or even a napkin.
posted by rtha at 6:01 PM on May 24, 2008

Response by poster: I used to pack nuts and bars; I probably still will, for emergencies. Unfortunately, though, tree nuts have started not agreeing with me (in a most unattractive way), and I really need me some protein. I'll do what I have to if I have to, obviously, but am trying to plan well enough that I can actually have a fairly good time :)

I know that Burger King veggie burgers are probably not vegan, but even knowing for sure that there was a Burger King at whatever airport would be helpful.
posted by amtho at 6:07 PM on May 24, 2008

I do know ohare pretty well. The food is not great, but there is a Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express, with is by far the least terribly thing in the American terminal. I'm not sure how much purely vegan food there is, but it's not terrible, like the crap in the food courts.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:18 PM on May 24, 2008

P.S. They actually prepare the food there, unlike the other places, so they would be more likely to leave out cheese if asked.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:20 PM on May 24, 2008

I don't buy food at the airport, and I'm an omnivore. It isn't a guarantee that vegan food won't be available there, but it's almost certain to be mediocre and dead sure to be overpriced.

All food on all domestic flights in the United States, "free" or supplied at an additional surcharge, is inedible.

Air travel is such a drag these days that I console myself by buying indulgences before heading to the airport -- a tub of shrimp salad, a bagel with extra lox, an expensive chocolate bar, a bag of fancy nuts -- that make my little picnic in the middle seat or on the concourse a little better than my usual lunch. Just go to the best deli in your area and pay twice what you'd usually budget for lunch. This helps make one tiny part of the horrible experience of contemporary air travel bearable.
posted by gum at 6:55 PM on May 24, 2008

Response by poster: Well, I just booked flights that go through the DFW airport (American). Recommendations for food at that airport are welcome, but I wait without hope...
posted by amtho at 7:16 PM on May 24, 2008

What restaurants are in these airports is information you can get online: and .

Camille's in DFW may have vegan stuff. I've eaten at one of their non-airport locations and they have a lot of salad stuff.
posted by fructose at 7:39 PM on May 24, 2008

Oops, didn't see that bottom part about you finding the listings.
Find out what terminal your flight goes through and you can research those particular restaurants. Bringing your own food will probably still be a better bet. I've had a ton of connections in DFW and over half of them involved being in a huge hurry to make the connection because of one delay or another (even for what were supposed to be long connections).
posted by fructose at 7:42 PM on May 24, 2008

Best answer: I was actually just at O'Hare, and unfortunately the Wolfgang Puck doesn't have much that's vegan, if anything at all (the only menu item I remember considering was "breakfast potatoes" but the line was so long I didn't feel like it was worth it to ask what was in them). They do have a food court - somewhere near the B terminal I think - with a Chinese fast food place that had a couple of things - szechuan tofu and mixed vegetables at least - and I remember a taco place too. (I got the Chinese.) There's also your usual places to get a veggie bagel sandwich scattered throughout the airport.

If you want protein, though, bring some Builder Bars with you - like rtha pointed out, your flight might be delayed and you may not have enough time to get to a restaurant. (BTW in terms of scheduling layovers, depending on how quickly you eat, I'd go for at least an hour and a half or two hours.)
posted by AV at 8:22 PM on May 24, 2008

Best answer: Looks like you have at least two options in DFW. Personally, I just bring bread with me (or buy it at the airport if possible) since airport food is usually pretty gross, even if it's totally vegan.
posted by cmonkey at 1:53 AM on May 25, 2008

Response by poster: Those look great, cmonkey - I tried to find some kind of vegetarian airport guide but missed that one. Thanks! I hope I have time to try one or the other.
posted by amtho at 7:48 AM on May 25, 2008

There is a 'Burrito Beach' at O'Hare that looked to be vegan. Pretty decent for airport food.
posted by buttercup at 8:48 AM on May 25, 2008

Burger King veggie burgers have egg whites in them. I'm assuming you already called your airline(s) to reserve vegan meals/snacks for whatever in-flight options are offered? I know the first comment up there says you're unlikely to be able to get a "pure veg" meal, but that's just not true at all. If you call ahead and tell the airline your dietary restrictions, you can absolutely get a vegan option for whatever they're offering.
posted by booknerd at 2:17 PM on May 26, 2008

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