How Vegans & Vegetarians Can Eat Well While Traveling…

Contributing writers:

Lara Adler,

Jill Nussinow,

Meredith McCarty,

Nomi Shannon,

Elaina Love,

Sasha Luci

Favorite Grab-and-Go Foods.

Elaina is the “McGyver” of raw foods on the go. In the side pocket of her soft cooler, she stashes high mineral sea salt and onion powder, along with a traveling knife. At mealtime, she uses whole romaine leaves as a taco shell, and stuffs it with avocado slices and cherry tomatoes. Then she sprinkles it with sea salt and onion powder, and sometimes seasoned pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

She also packs apples and nut butter. And she’s found that carrot and celery sticks — great with hummus — stay fresh longer than other chopped veggies. Of course, she doesn’t have Nomi’s long skinny purse.

You see, Nomi has found that green beans and a head of romaine lettuce will keep for several days in her purse while traveling!

Along with some dates to make romaine-date rollups, this is her grab-and-go airplane food. (See recipe included with this lesson.) She still can’t figure out why the lettuce keeps well in her purse without refrigeration!

Jill’s travel food kit includes “Mary’s Gone Crackers” (or flax crackers), kale chips, dried sea palm fronds, dried fruit and trail mix. The kale chips recipes are in Lesson 24.2 and Lesson 24.3.)

Lara tells us that bagged nuts and dried and fresh fruits have saved her on long distance flights, especially when she didn’t get the vegan meal she asked for.

When it comes to lightweight snacks that don’t require refrigeration, our favorite is Veggielicious Spice. This is just one of many whole food energy snacks offered by its manufacturer. You can check out the product line at

How to Plan Ahead.

Before traveling, search online for health food stores near your destination. Then you can stop to buy refrigerated foods like fresh greens and hummus.

No matter where you’re traveling, visit You’ll find a GLOBAL directory of veg-friendly restaurants and health food stores. Lara does this every time she travels internationally — which is a lot — and she’s found some incredible restaurants this way.

In the U.S., visit to locate farmers markets near your destination, or on the way. You’re sure to find fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables. And at some markets, you’ll even find homemade baked goods and hot meals.

For a list of all co-ops, health food stores, and green businesses with a quick zip lookup, Sasha recommends

Finally,  many cities have websites devoted to their vegan / vegetarian resources. For example:


Custom Plates at Restaurants.

So many people today have dietary restrictions — ranging from gluten intolerance to lactose intolerance to veganism. Special diets are so common, in fact, that restaurants have gotten used to making custom meals on the fly.

So if a restaurant doesn’t have an entrée you’re willing to eat, don’t be shy about asking for a custom meal!

Here’s a time-tested approach. Look at the menu for the ingredients in other entrees. Then ask if the chef could create a plate with just those ingredients.

For example, at Mexican restaurants, we regularly ask for a plate of romaine lettuce, whole beans, and a “double side” of guacamole — with no rice or tortilla shell. We’ll also request grilled vegetables if available. Keep it simple so it’s not too difficult or time consuming for the chef.


When you book your hotel room, request a dorm fridge to store vegetables and other perishables. Some hotels will provide a fridge at no additional cost. But since they don’t have enough for every guest, it’s first come, first served. So reserve it in advance!

If a fridge isn’t available, ask if the wet bar in your room can be emptied out so you can store food in it.

As a last resort, bring your own cooler and fill it with fresh ice each day.

If bringing a cooler isn’t possible, use the bucket in your hotel room (the one normally used for a wine bottle).

When Meredith stays at hotels, she doesn’t like to rough it at all. So if she can’t get a room with a kitchenette, and there’s no vegetarian restaurant nearby, she’ll bring her own hot plate, or an immersion coil for making hot beverages. Then she treats herself to hot miso soup, oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat or millet, mochi and tea.


If you’re vegan, meals at conferences can be challenging because they rarely have plant based protein. You might find macaroni and cheese or fettuccini alfredo. You might even find portabello mushrooms, but hotels rarely serve vegan proteins like tofu, hummus, or bean soups. The solution?

Even if you have no fridge in your hotel room, you can bring almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or flax crackers and sprinkle them on your salad. All these are easy to pack in a suitcase. You can make your own flax crackers, as in Lesson 24.6. You can also buy flax crackers from either of these web sites:


Road Trips.

The great thing about driving is that you don’t have to worry about the weight of your luggage. So you can bring a large cooler filled with ice packs and vegetables. You can also bring canned soups, an electric hotpot, cutting board, knife, bowl, silverware, and even a blender or Vitamix!

Best of all, you can bring all the fresh fruit, lemons, and avocados you want.

For easy “tailgate preparation”, Elaina brings travel knives, wooden utensils, a wooden bowl, and a mini cutting board.

Bringing a blender allows you to make smoothies in the mornings. Or, if you want a more filling breakfast, you can make Nomi’s “Oats with Almonds and Dates” as in Lesson 24.4.

If you travel a lot, consider buying a Thermoelectric Cooler. You can plug it into your car’s power socket. And some models offer a separate adapter that you can plug into any electrical outlet.

Fruit is great because it doesn’t require refrigeration. Avocados turn salads into filling meals and lemons can be squeezed over salads. That brings us to the next topic.

Salad Dressings.

Squeezing lemons over salads will save you from restaurant dressings made with fillers, preservatives, or animal ingredients. (Even dressings without anchovies or bacon may contain calcium stearate, a byproduct derived from cows or hogs.)

Elaina makes salad dressings by blending flax crackers with some water and a little lemon juice.

To create on-the-spot dressings without a blender, Meredith likes to bring Nama Shoyu and umeboshi paste. Since they have salty tastes, she likes to mix them with either apple cider vinegar, brown rice vinegar, or lemon juice.

You can ask the restaurant for olive oil to supplement the other seasonings.

Airport Tips.

If you try to bring a container of hummus or almond butter through security, it’ll be confiscated. (After all, garbanzo beans and almonds pose a very serious threat to airline safety.) But if you pack a hummus or almond butter sandwich in your carry-on, you can skate through with no hassles. Go figure.

Many airports have smoothie places. If you’re a vegan, ask for a custom non-dairy smoothie. And if you carry green powder with you, most places will blend that in for you.

Panda Express offers Chinese tofu and vegetables.

Panera now has a “Mediterranean Veggie” sandwich with hummus and feta cheese. If you’re vegan, you can ask them to hold the cheese and substitute whole wheat bread. Also, if you’re gluten intolerant, you can ask them to serve the hummus and vegetables on a plate of romaine lettuce instead of a wrap.

Some regular sandwich places offer “3 Bean Salad”, a high protein addition to any salad.

Even in cities where you wouldn’t expect it, you can improvise respectable meals. For example, the Kansas City, Missouri airport has a Mexican restaurant that happily prepared our favorite vegan plate.

And the Nashville, Tennessee airport has a sandwich place that — if you ask them to — will spread avocado and veggies on whole wheat bread.

Flying Tips.

On International flights, many airlines offer vegan and vegetarian meals if you reserve them in advance. However, Lara recommends confirming and re-confirming a few times, because she’s had a few no-show meals. Note that some airlines aren’t familiar with the word “vegan”, so you have to ask for a meal that’s “non-dairy vegetarian”.

Continental is the only one we know of that offers custom meals on coast-to-coast flights (i.e. from the east coast to the west coast and vice versa). If you know of others, please post a reply.

Beware that on airplanes, hot meals are microwaved. If you consider this unacceptable, then be sure to bring your own food.

When flying, pack a soft sided, collapsible cooler in your suitcase. Not only do they hold more because of flexible sides; they pack flat and are very light. Just tuck some covered containers or ziploc bags into your suitcase to hold and keep melting ice from leaking.

Nomi suggests packing a thin flexible cutting board. When traveling with two suitcases (or a companion), you can pack your blender’s carafe in one suitcase and its base in the other. Of course, fill the carafe with socks to avoid wasting precious suitcase space!

When flying in cold weather, think twice before filling your suitcase with anything that might freeze and expand. For example, we once packed a jar of almond butter and a plastic container of agave nectar in our suitcase. (The one we checked.)

Fortunately, neither one exploded during transit. But we spent the whole flight worrying that the cold air outside would freeze these foods and cause the containers to burst.

Getting Enough Vegetables.

Whether you’re at a fancy American hotel, or traveling in Costa Rica, it can be hard to get enough vegetables. (Ironically, during my trip to Costa Rica, the only restaurant I could find with a green salad was McDonalds!)

Here are some shrewd solutions to this problem:

  1. Sea vegetables

    Sea Vegetables such as dulse and sea palm, are lightweight and don’t require refrigeration. They can be rehydrated in a minute and added to any salad.

  2. Kale chips

    These salted, spiced dehydrated kale leaves are as addictive as Doritos — but far healthier. See the recipes included in Lessons 24.2 and 24.3. There's also a recipe in the free ebook Supercharge Your Health With Whole Foods.

  3. Wheat grass tablets

    You can buy these in a jar from any health food store. According to the label on Pines International wheat grass tablets, 7 tablets equals one serving of a deep green leafy vegetables.

  4. Veggielicious

    Veggielicious is a mix of dehydrated raw vegetables including Broccoli, Green Beans, Sweet Corn, Peas, Tomatoes, Green Peppers, Red Peppers, Green Onions, & Carrots. It’s lightweight and doesn’t require refrigeration. You can order it at

  5. Sprouts

    When traveling by car, Jill likes to pack mason jars with newly started sprouts (and sprout tops). That way she’s assured fresh “vegetables” for at least a few days. Of course, she rinses them with bottled or filtered water, not tap water.

    When traveling by plane, you can pack dry grains, seeds or quinoa, and start sprouting once you arrive at your destination. Since jars are heavy, you can sprout them in a Hemp sprout bag or one of Elaina’s nut milk bags. As you likely recall, we covered sprouting fully in Lesson 20.

Grocery Stores.

Grocery stores are a good option when you’re on a road trip. Hummus has reached mainstream status and can be found at most grocery stores. Buy a container of hummus along with a cucumber or a bag of pre-washed salad greens. Then slice up the cucumber and dip it in the hummus.

More and more conventional grocery stores have a small “Natural” section where you can find packaged foods without artificial ingredients. For example, you can buy natural peanut butter and eat it on whole wheat bread or apples.

Or buy a natural cereal and soy milk. SILK Soymilk is owned by Dean Foods, the largest dairy company in the US, and can be found in most grocery stores.

Bring Sweeteners.

When it comes to sweeteners, most restaurants and hotels only offer white sugar and artificial alternatives — like “Sweet & Low”. So it’s smart to bring your own sweetener.

Stevia and “Organic Zero” both come in single-serving packets, making them easy to travel with. On road trips, you also have the luxury of bringing Agave nectar, raw honey, or brown rice syrup.

Note: Later we’ll cover the pros and cons of these sweeteners in the lesson called “Healthy Sweeteners: How They Stack Up”.

Worried About Water Quality?

If you spend a lot of time in hotels, and you cringe at throwing away empty water bottles, consider buying a water distiller. Unlike a water filter, it doesn’t need to be attached to a faucet. You can plug it into any electrical outlet. It distills a gallon of water in four hours, and then shuts off.

If you’re traveling abroad and worried about water quality, don’t fret. You can get plenty of water by eating cucumbers, melons, and juicy fruits like oranges and mangoes. This is what we did while traveling in Costa Rica.

Camping Trips and Outdoor Gatherings.

Vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots and beets can last for days without refrigeration, even in the summer. And amazingly, cabbage holds up quite well in warm climates.

If you have other tips or suggestions, please click “Post a comment” below, and add your input to the mix!

6 Comment(s)

  1. Well that's nice but doesn't help much out of the States. In the rest of the world, we don't have those brands. Consequently, we have to be super creative.

    Anne-Sophie | Reply

  2. You can purchase silky sea palm, sea palm, sweet kombu and dulse from Ocean Harvest Sea Vegetable Company at; They are delicious right from the bag and easy to tuck into a purse or backpack.  They are vegan and always raw!  We are one of only two companies on the west coast to test our seaweed for radiation.  Our test done in May 2012, shows that our seaweed is once again radiation free!

    Terry d'Selkie | Reply

  3. Thank you so very much. This info is so supportive; it gets lonely out there sometimes. I can feel like such a foreigner in my own land.
    Special hello to Meredith – I took a series of your cooking classes at your Strawberry place and really enjoyed both you and the classes. I have one of your cookbooks too. We now live up north in Bellingham, WA
    Thank you for all your support, Susan

    susan guerrero | Reply

  4. I have concerns about Truvia, Purevia, Zevia, Zerose, Zsweet, which are marketing names for an artificially blended erythritol and rebiana mix. Rebiana is a chemically modified form of stevia, it is NOT pure stevia. Learn more here:
    you might like Just Like Sugar better

    hn | Reply

  5. I've seen hummus plates at a couple of airport "fast food" places, and even at Starbucks, that consist of hummus, 3 pita triangles, carrot sticks and broccoli florets.

    she | Reply

  6. Thank you so very much. This info is so supportive; it gets lonely out there sometimes. I can feel like such a foreigner in my own land.

    Sugar Land electrician | Reply

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