In-Flight Meal: How To Order A Delicious Vegan Meal On Your Next Flight

Published on May 29, 2024

In-flight meals can get confusing especially for vegan travellers or those with dietary restrictions. Travelling as a vegan can sometimes feel like navigating a culinary minefield, especially regarding airline food. But with a little preparation and know-how, you can ensure that your in-flight dining experience is as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible. 

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or gearing up for your first adventure, our comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps to secure a delicious vegan meal on your next flight. 

From booking tips, confirming your in-flight meal, packing your snacks, and navigating airport options, we’ve got you covered.

Read on to discover how to take the stress out of vegan travel and keep your plant-based diet intact at 30,000 feet.

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    Researching Vegan-Friendly Airlines

    Research is the key to organising your in-flight dining experience.

    Not all airlines offer in-flight vegan meals, but many major airlines provide this option if requested. For this reason, if you are travelling on a long-haul flight, you must check what airlines can accommodate a vegan diet. 

    Here are some of the airlines that are well-known for providing vegan meal options:

    • American Airlines
    • Delta Air Lines
    • United Airlines
    • British Airways
    • Emirates
    • Qatar Airways
    • Singapore Airlines
    • Lufthansa
    • Air France
    • Cathay Pacific

    These airlines typically allow you to request a vegan in-flight meal when booking your ticket or at least 48 hours before departure.

    Budget airlines and smaller regional carriers might not have as extensive meal options as major airlines. Some may not offer special meals, while others might have limited choices. It’s best to check directly with the airline when booking.

    Once you have decided on an airline, you can book your flight. 


    Pre-Ordering A Vegan In-Flight Meal

    It is important to request a vegan in-flight meal in advance, and the easiest way to do this is during the booking process when you can pre-select your meal. When booking your flight online, you usually have the option to select a special meal. This might be under a section like Special Requests or Meal Preferences.

    Here are a few things to remember when booking your flight:

    • Choose the in-flight meal option usually labelled VGML or Vegetarian Vegan Meal. 
    • Ensure you save this preference before completing your booking. 
    • Please make sure to check with the airline if you have concerns regarding food allergies. 
    • If you book your flight over the phone or via a travel agent, remember to request a vegan meal on all flights.
    • If you want to check the status of your meal selection, you can log in on the airline’s website and go to Manage My Booking or by contacting airline customer service by phone. 

    Understanding Airline Meal Codes

    Airline meals use codes to determine the different meals available on each flight.

    Meals are often designed to meet certain dietary standards or restrictive religious standards that exclude specific ingredients. For example you can request Diabetic Friendly Meals, Kosher Meals and Halal Meals.

    In addition, a number of airline meals, such as lactose-free or gluten-free meals, cater to food allergies. 

    Here are some common vegetarian and vegan meal codes you might encounter when booking your flight:

    VGML (Vegetarian Vegan Meal):

    This meal is entirely plant-based, containing no animal products. It excludes meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. VGML meals usually include a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes.

    VLML (Vegetarian Lacto-Ovo Meal):

    This meal includes dairy and eggs but excludes meat and fish. It’s not strictly vegan.

    VOML (Vegetarian Oriental Meal):

    This meal is typically prepared in an oriental style and is vegetarian. It usually excludes meat and fish but may include dairy and eggs, so it’s not guaranteed to be vegan.

    GFML (Gluten Free Meal):

    This meal is gluten-free but not vegan unless specified. It may be suitable for those on a gluten-sensitive diet. 

    NLML (Non-Lactose Meal):

    This meal is dairy-free or lactose-free but not vegan. It may be suitable for those on a lactose-free diet. 

    ALML (Allergen Meal):

    This meal may be suitable for those with food allergies as it excludes common food allergies such as seafood, wheat, nuts, eggs and dairy, but it is not vegan. 

    VJML (Vegetarian Jain Meal):

    A vegetarian meal prepared as per the Jainism religious principles that is not exclusively vegan. 

    It is important to note that each airline’s website will have a disclaimer, so be sure to check the information regarding meal service and the availability of requested meals. 


    Preparing For Your Flight As A Vegan

    Preparing in advance for your flight, or multiple flights, is essential for a vegan traveller. 

    Packing the right vegan snacks for your flight can ensure you stay nourished and satisfied, especially if in-flight meal options are limited or unavailable. 

    Here are some convenient, travel-friendly vegan snacks that are great for flying:

    • Nuts & Seeds: Almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds are protein-rich and easy to pack.
    • Dried Fruit: Apricots, mangoes, raisins, cranberries, and dates provide a sweet and chewy option.
    • Energy Bars: Look for vegan-friendly bars that are made with whole ingredients.
    • Fresh Fruit: Apples, bananas, grapes, and berries are easy to carry and can be eaten without preparation.
    • Vegetable Chips: Kale chips, sweet potato chips, and beet chips offer a crunchy alternative to traditional snacks.
    • Rice Cakes: Light and easy to carry, rice cakes can be paired with condiments or eaten independently.
    • Hummus & Veggies: Pre-packaged hummus cups with carrot sticks, cucumber slices, or bell pepper strips make a healthy snack.
    • Popcorn: Air-popped popcorn or pre-packaged vegan popcorn is a great low-calorie snack.
    • Trail Mix: A mix of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and vegan chocolate or coconut flakes is sweet and savoury.
    • Granola: Portable and versatile, granola can be eaten on its own or added to a cup of vegan yoghurt you might find at the airport.
    • Crackers & Dip: Whole grain crackers paired with individual servings of guacamole or vegan cheese spread.

    In addition to vegan snacks, it is essential to stay hydrated during your flight. The lack of humidity in the cabin means that travelling can leave you feeling dehydrated. Remember to drink adequate water during your flight and airport layovers. In addition, avoid diuretic drinks such as coffee and alcohol. 

    Finding Vegan-Friendly Meal Options At The Airport

    Find vegan options at the airport can be overwhelming and if you are concerned there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your pre-flight worries. 

    • Check out the list of restaurants and cafes available on the airport website. Take note of any places you think are likely to have a vegan option and where in the terminal the restaurant is located. 
    • Food courts have a wide variety of options to select from including popular fast food chains and international cuisines. 
    • Scope out the airport lounges and the option to pre-pay for open lounge access for your layover. Open lounge access is available to anyone to purchase even without a priority pass or membership. 
    • Pre-pack a meal prior to leaving home that you can eat at the airport as a backup such as a salad bowl, sandwich/wrap, or snack box with fruit, dips, chips and nuts so you don’t have to reheat the meal. 

    Overall, most airports cater to a range of dietary requirements but if you are unsure you can also ask the service desk staff what dining options are available withing your terminal on arrival. 

    Interested in the most vegan-friendly airports in the world? According to Simple Flying, here are the top airports for vegan options as published in 2023:

    • Zurich Airport (ZRH)
    • Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN)
    • Manchester Airport (MAN)
    • Vienna International Airport (VIE)
    • Hong Kong International Airport (HKG):
    • Heathrow Airport (LHR)
    • Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)
    • Haneda Airport (HND)
    • O’Hare International Airport USA (ORD)
    • Denver International Airport (DEN) 

    Now that you are ready to head to the airport and enjoy your vegan meal at cruising altitude, you won’t want to miss out on our upcoming vegan getaways! 

    We still have a few spots open on our fabulous PLANTSPIRATION IN ITALY and LIVE WITH PURPOSE BALI in 2024 getaways, and we have already launched some of our most popular 2025 destinations with spots open on our PORTUGAL POR FAVOR and A PLANTASTIC ADVENTURE CROATIA getaways. 

    See you soon!



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