These Are the Best and Worst Airports for Vegans

When thinking of airport food, most people might picture fast food joints and unhealthy options galore, but times are changing and travelers — especially vegan ones — have more options than ever.

A study released by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) says that all 24 of the nation’s busiest airports offer vegan meals now — and we’re not talking about just a banana or apple to grab on the go. The study looked at entrees served throughout the day (sides didn’t count) at the airports with the most travelers in the country and 71 percent of all of those restaurants offered at least one.

Not to anyone’s surprise, Los Angeles International Airport ranked first on the list, with 90 percent of its restaurants featuring at least one plant-based entree in their menus. Since 2014, the airport has replaced food court staples like McDonald’s and Burger King with healthier options like The Counter that serve veggie burgers and salads, Lemonade that has more than 12 vegan entrees including a lentil and eggplant stew and Ink.sack, a restaurant famous for its watermelon siracha and veggie bánh mě with barbecue tofu.

Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey came in second after a whole new wing filled with healthy restaurants opened last year, and the airports in Philadelphia and San Francisco tied for the third spot with 82 percent of its restaurants offering vegan entrees.

According to the study, a few factors have contributed to this surge in healthier options: people’s increased interest in the nutritional value of their meals, the rise of veganism as a mainstream diet option and the farm-to-table movement where people seek to eat foods that are locally grown. In 2015 both John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Chicago O’Hare started urban airport farms to grow produce it can serve on site. It doesn’t get any more local than that!

Still, it’s not all tempeh wraps and avocado toasts everywhere. The Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport in Minnesota ranked last on the list with 56 percent of restaurants having a vegan option available and in many others around the country it may seem like not a single option is available. What is a hungry traveling vegan to do then?

“We always carry some snacks with us like nuts, fruit or similar,” explain Dale Davies and Franca Calabretta, authors of the Slow Vegan Travel blog. “We would buy something beforehand or order a salad somewhere or just fruit and fresh bread (make sure it’s vegan). There are always options.”

Lauren Yakiwchuk, half the traveling vegan duo behind the Justin Plus Lauren blog also recommends packing a snack when traveling, making sure they’re not liquid and can pass through security, and being extra diligent when eating at the airport.

“When you’re at the airport, explore your options. Ask questions when you can. At some airports, I’ve been able to modify freshly-prepared meals to include extra vegetables, while leaving out the meat and cheese,” she adds. “Make sure you read the product labels if they’re in English. ‘Vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’ are not common terms in some countries, so make sure you are clear on what you can and cannot eat.”

Some research ahead of time also helps. PCRM’s Airport Food Review has all the vegan meals at the busiest airports outlined, even noting the location of the restaurant at the airport.

Curious on how other airports ranked? Here’s the complete list:

1. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX): 90%

2. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR): 84%

3. San Francisco International Airport (SFO): 82%

4. Philadelphia International Airport (PHL): 82%

5. Denver International Airport (DEN): 80%

6. Reagan National Airport (DCA): 79%

7. Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC): 79%

8. Dulles International Airport (IAD): 77%

9. Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI): 77%

10. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK): 76%

11. Boston Logan International Airport (BOS): 75%

12. Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW): 74%

13. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA): 72%

14. Miami International Airport (MIA): 72%

15. San Diego International Airport (SAN): 70%

16. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS): 67%

17. Charlotte Douglass International Airport (CLT): 67%

18. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW): 65%

19 Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH): 64%

20. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX): 64%

21. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD): 62%

22. Orlando International Airport (MCO): 61%

23. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL): 57%

24. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP): 56%

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

187 comments

John B
John B2 months ago

Thanks Natalia for sharing the list and info.

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Chen Boon Fook
Chen Boon Fook4 months ago

noted.

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Chun Lai T
Chun Lai T4 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Dagmara W
Dagmara W5 months ago

Thanks!

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Philippa P
Philippa P6 months ago

Thanks.

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Brett Cloud
Brett Cloud9 months ago

Ty

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Brett Cloud
Brett Cloud9 months ago

Ty

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Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawn9 months ago

more trains would be sensible ...the only train we got from perth to sydney and back again is a luxury train where people hoilday on it , it is the Ghan..........its $1900 each way........its just ludricoius that we don't have a train from ohne side of australia to the other, so everyone has to get the aeroplane whivh leaves huge greenhouse emissions or drive........trains would be logical, easier and better for environment

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Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawn9 months ago

theres only airport near me and it is a 90 minutes bus trip to get there and i live near a city .....hopefully aeropeilican at swansea nsw starts flights again as it australain owned and local owned and not got anything to do with jetstar and qantas and virgin airlines etc........little airports would be more open to the idea of ethical goods and services

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Janis K.
Janis K9 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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