How To Bring Vegan Food On An Airplane

Essential Tips For Bringing Vegan Food Through Airport Security

You booked your trip and are so excited until you realize that your layover may pose an issue to your meal schedule.

What is someone who is eating plant-based or vegan supposed to do on long flights or layovers? The easiest option is to plan ahead and bring your own vegan food.

The following guide will show you how to bring vegan food on an airplane so that it successfully passes through airport security.

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What Travel Food Restrictions Are There For Vegans?

After too many meals consisting of an overpriced out of season fruit cup, I decided to look up the Transportation Security Administration restrictions on food items.

The TSA website states:

Solid food items (not liquids or gels) can be transported in either your carry-on or checked bags. Liquid or gel food items larger than 3.4 oz are not allowed in carry-on bags and should be placed in your checked bags if possible.

All food that you want to carry on to the plane must be checked in the X-ray machine at the TSA security checkpoint. The food you bring through security must be wrapped or inside a container.


Creative Vegan Travel Meal Ideas For The Plane

Be creative while still following the TSA food restrictions. Solid and whole food items are mainly unrestricted but there’s a gray area when it comes to creamy dips and spreads.

For instance, hummus in a container will fall under the 3.4 oz liquids restriction but hummus on a sandwich with other veggies do not as long as the sandwich toppings are substantial enough that it doesn’t look creamy.

These are the perfect leak-proof options for taking dips and dressings with you.

healthy vegan travel meals for an airplane with a sandwich, vegetables, and fruit

Can You Bring A Greens Salad On A Plane?

Yes, you can with some slight modifications. If you want to bring a salad with greens, it’s best to bring the dressing separately in case you run into any issues.

The lettuce and greens fall under solids so those should be fine. The dressing falls into the 3.4 oz liquids restriction.

If you want more flavor without dressing, you can do that with additional toppings.

Add beans, such as chickpeas, and non-juicy vegetables (sorry tomatoes). Drain all excess liquid from them before adding them to the salad.

Guacamole falls under the creamy liquid restriction BUT you can bring a whole avocado through no problem.

Use a knife from the after security food court to cut the avocado open and add it to your salad before getting on the plane.

Can You Bring Hummus On A Plane?

Already prepared hummus can be brought on a plan in a 3.4 oz container or smaller. Anything larger than that is not allowed.

If you’re feeling adventurous, bring a whole uncut lemon and a container of drained whole chickpeas. After you go through security, mash the chickpeas with a spoon and squeeze the lemon on top.

Voila! You just made some airport hummus.

Can You Bring Guacamole On A Plane?

Yes, guacamole is allowed on a plane but it falls under the 3.4 oz liquids rule.

If you’d prefer a larger amount of guacamole, you can bring a ripe, uncut avocado and whole lime through airport security.

Once in the terminal, mash the avocado in a bowl, squeeze lime on top, and add some garlic salt.

Can You Bring Pasta On An Airplane?

Plain pasta tossed with a small amount of oil isn’t an issue. If you start adding more liquid such as sauce, it will fall under the 3.4 oz rule so it’s better to keep the sauce separate.

I had success bringing rotini noodles through security with just enough sauce to coat the pasta and not have any liquid pooling at the bottom.

Pasta salads can work too if they’re drier and are mixed with other veggies.

vegan orzo pasta salad in a togo container for airplane travel

Additional Vegan Plane Meal Ideas

The main takeaway with anything you want to bring is to make sure there isn’t pooling liquid or a creaminess if it’s already mixed in.

Sauces, dressings, and condiments fall under the 3.4 oz liquid restriction. You can still bring them but it’s a good idea to have them in a separate container until after you get through airport security.

  • Quinoa salad
  • Tabouli
  • Rice and beans
  • Vegetable Wraps
  • Burritos
  • Hummus sandwiches
  • Lentil salad
  • Baked tofu
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich

Vegan Travel Snacks For The Plane

The most obvious travel snacks to bring are whole produce items.

Self-contained fruits and vegetables make great vegan travel snacks. They’re easy to pack and healthy.

  • Baby carrots
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Blueberries
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Grapes
  • Whole mangos work if you give yourself enough time to find a plastic knife to slice them open in the terminal.
fruits and vegetables in a lunch box for plane travel

Some other healthy vegan travel snacks are:

granola, protein bars, dried fruits, fruit leather, kale chips, popcorn, vegan jerky, and tortilla chips.


How Do You Pack Vegan Food When Traveling?

TSA WILL check your food so make it easy for them. You will need to remove your food from your carry on bag before it goes through screening.

All foods should be wrapped and not left open. For whole produce items, I’ll place them in a bag to comply with this rule.

Here are the best ways to pack your food while traveling:

1. Silicone Zip Bags

FDA grade certified PEVA silicone reusable zip bags. These bags are PVC, BPA, chloride and lead-free.

They are easy to close, leakproof, and completely washable. A great way to eliminate single-use plastic zip bags.

2. Individual Condiment Containers

These stainless steel condiment containers are leak-proof due to their silicone lid.

This set comes with three containers, each holding 3.4 oz which is the liquid limit for travel. Perfect for dressings, sauces, and dips.

When not traveling, I use these containers to hold snacks in my purse and for my son’s daycare lunch.

3. Glass Dishes

I find that glass dishes hold up better over plastic in our household. I use the same ones at home as I do for travel.

These glass dishes are “meal prep” size and can hold 36 oz of food. The lids are plastic but have a snap lock to keep them from leaking everywhere.

While my food was being inspected, they picked up a dish and flipped it over to inspect the underside. That is when I found out my dish lids weren’t leakproof. Also, glass dishes are heavy.

4. Bento Boxes & Tiffins

Bento boxes and tiffins are a compact way to carry all your food. Bento boxes are one box with different compartments separated.

Tiffins are multi-layered stackable dishes. Each dish is a compartment of its own.

I recommend going with leak-proof versions since TSA agents will tip your containers upside down during inspection.

5. Reusable Utensils

Don’t forget to bring reusable silverware with you! I’d leave the knives at home though.

This travel utensil set is made from bamboo. Additionally, it comes with a travel case and reusable metal straws and straw brushes.


How To Keep Food Cold On A Plane

One good thing about vegan food is that many of the meals can be made and stored at room temperature.

Without needing to worry about eggs, dairy, and meat food safety, the biggest food safety hurdles are overcome already.

Just like you would pack a lunch for work, the same precautions should be taken to keep your food cold and within temperature safety standards.

At a minimum, a thermal insulated bag should be used to store cold food items during travel.

Can You Bring An Ice Pack Through Security?

According to TSA guidelines, a frozen ice pack can go through the security checkpoint as long as it is still completely frozen.

If the ice pack has started to thaw, is slushy, or has pools of liquid, then it must meet the liquid restrictions.

Tips to help keep your icepack frozen:

  • Leave it in the freezer until the last minute before you go.
  • Pair the ice pack with frozen foods you planned on eating such as frozen peas or grapes.

Conclusion

Bringing vegan food on an airplane isn’t as difficult as you may have thought.

With only a little creativity and an understanding of the security food restrictions, you can easily bring your healthy vegan meals with you during travel.

I’d love to know what your favorite vegan meals you had while flying.

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Stephanie Mantilla

Plant-Based Diet & Vegan Lifestyle Expert

Stephanie is the founder of Plant Prosperous, a plant-based vegan living, and parenting blog. She has been eating a plant-based diet for over 24 years along with a B.S. in Biology & Environmental Science. She also has over 14 years of experience working in the environmental and conservation sectors. Stephanie is currently raising her son on a plant-based diet and hopes to help others who are wanting to do the same. You can read more about her here.

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