Last week I took a short trip to visit my daughter in Colorado. It was my first experience travelling while following a vegetarian diet. Not surprisingly, the biggest challenge was finding healthy vegetarian options at the airport.
By the time I got to my rental car I was starving and still at least an hour away from having lunch with my daughter, so I ate one of the Soyjoy bars from my stash of snacks.
It really hit the spot.
On my way back home, I got to the airport really early–it was the first day of Spring Break in the area, so I was worried about how long it would take to return my rental car and get through security, but I was done with both within half an hour! Since I knew I’d be sitting down for hours on the plane, I decided to use the time to roam the airport and forage for healthy vegetarian airport food.
While Denver International Airport has numerous Einstein Brothers places, I knew there was a Starbucks somewhere, so I headed there first. When I finally got to the small stand at the very end of Gate B, I realized that they would not have the egg white, spinach and feta wrap that I was hoping for–I don’t think any airport Starbucks has their hot sandwiches. They did have the single-serve hummus and pretzel packs, so I got one of those–and a tall bold coffee of course.
I kept looking for something more substantial for lunch on the plane, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay $8 for a “vegetarian” sandwich made with several slices of cheese and a handful of vegetables. I realized that I would have balked less at paying that price for a ham sandwich, but I knew the vegetarian sandwiches would be mostly (white) bread and not very satisfying. I checked every deli case for hard boiled eggs, but only found Chobani for $3 a cup–not a shocking price at the airport, but I didn’t think it would taste very good with the hummus.
I decided to look for a salad, but the pre-made “to go” options I saw included chicken, or were Caesar salads with a bit of romaine, a lot of cheese, and a big packet of creamy dressing. As I headed back towards my gate, I spotted a McDonald’s, and remembered that they do have salads. While the menu assumes that you will have chicken (the prices listed are for “grilled” or “crispy”), the Southwest salad was pre-made without any meat.
I was pleased to see the generous portion of mixed greens, and handfulls of roasted corn and black beans. Who knew that McDonald’s would save the day with a yummy salad?
By the time I boarded I was starving, so I nibbled on some pumpkin seeds from my stash of snacks, to tide me over until I could put my tray table down and enjoy my salad, hummus and pretzels.
All in all, I was pleased with what I found, although it was even more important to have my own supply of “emergency snacks” to supplement the limited healthy vegetarian airport options.
Do you bring your own food when you travel?