Eating healthy at the airport can be difficult. I thought this would be a fitting blog post as my family just took a vacation to Florida. We had 2 layovers on our trip. As we walk up and down the terminals of the airport, about every 10 steps you take is an opportunity to buy food. As we strolled into the store to look at the food options, it becomes very obvious that finding a plant-based, whole food option is going to be difficult, darn near impossible.

At store #1 guess how many food options I found to eat? One. I found one thing to eat which were whole cashews. But wait, as I grabbed the package off the shelf and read the nutritional information they added palm oil. So, I really found no whole food, plant-based options to eat at store #1.

We roll down to the next store and they have a large stand of granola-like bars, plus all the other garbage that was at the last store. Bars of all sorts and sizes. High protein bars, all natural bars, plant-based bars, granola bars, basically any bar you can imagine. I found a bar that was labeled on the front as plant-based and this grabs my attention. I pick up the bar and first head to the ingredients list. Here I find about 20 different ingredients that goes into make this bar. Some of the ingredients I have never even heard of. To make matters worse, I go to the nutrition fact label of this bar and look at the grams of sugar. This bar, which I could possibly eat in one bite costs $5.00 and contains 13 grams of sugar. Also, the “all-natural” bar is probably the furthest thing from natural that I have seen. Filled with artificial preservatives and added sugar hardly seems natural to me.

At this point my wife and I won’t even walk into an airport restaurant anymore because the food options are so discouraging and way overpriced. And to be honest, if you have a 2-3 hour layover and a short flight, do you really need to eat? I highly doubt in the history of airports has someone ever vanished off the face of the earth because they were unable to eat for 2-3 hours. Grab a water, or better yet fill up your own reusable bottle, grab a book and get your mind off food. It is a simple idea, but will take a little bit of willpower to battle off the temptations that lurk in the airport.

So below are a few tips and tricks my family will use to help us eat healthy at the airport if we do in fact decide to buy food.

How to eat a whole foods, plant-based meal in an airport:

  1. Plan, plan, plan! Try and pack as many snacks as possible, which will make your travel much easier. You won’t have to rely on searching for whole food, plant-based options at the airport.
  2. Do your homework. Some airports have an online section listing available restaurants. Sometimes a better option is in a different terminal, so if you have a long layover, you could venture away from your gate and discover a better place to eat.
  3. If you are stuck eating at the airport and were not able to pack any acceptable snacks, here are some ways to get around the lack of plant-based options offered. Be mindful of veggie burgers, french fries, veggie burritos, and other similar items from airport restaurants. A lot of times, eggs, milk products, etc.. are added and not labeled accurately. Most food items at airports are pre-made and frozen, so the kitchen is not able to modify your order. You may feel like you are ‘snacking’ with the below suggestions, but these are much better options.
  • Starbucks: some stores have veggie/pretzel cups with hummus
  • Starbucks: some stores have vegan guacamole and can pair with pretzels
  • Other coffee shops: some have veggie cups or pretzels with hummus
  • Smoothie shops: usually sell whole bananas, apples, oranges. Choose the whole fruit option instead of a smoothie. Most smoothie places advertise ‘whole strawberries’, but really have the strawberries in a sugar syrup! They also advertise ‘coconut water’, but it comes as a coconut syrup with added sugar.
  • Buy unsweetened, no oil added whole nuts from any regular convenience store in the airport.
  • Look for butter free, unsalted popcorn bags from any regular convenience store at the airport.