When National Airport made its debut on the Physicians Committee’s 2007 Airport Food Review, just 42 percent of restaurants offered vegan entrées. It’s a world of difference eight years later: Nearly 80 percent of National restaurants now offer at least one vegan option.
I’ve flown through Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport pretty frequently over the years. But there’s been an exciting change recently: Standard airport fare, like burgers, fries, and pepperoni pizza, have given way to black bean chili, seaweed salads, and made-to-order vegan pizzas topped with chickpea crumbles.
It’s been great to see. It wasn’t long ago that the search for a vegan meal in an airport yielded little more than stale bagels and cold French fries. When National Airport made its debut on the Physicians Committee’s 2007 Airport Food Review, just 42 percent of restaurants offered vegan entrées. It’s a world of difference eight years later: Nearly 80 percent of National restaurants now offer at least one vegan option.
Across the nation, it’s easier now than ever for travelers to grab healthful plant-based options on the go. According to the 2015 Airport Food Review, 71 percent of airport restaurants nationwide offer at least one fiber-packed, cholesterol-free, plant-based entrée – a 25 percent increase since the report debuted in 2001.
Real Food Daily, the nation’s first all-vegan airport restaurant, now dishes up lentil mushroom burgers to travelers passing through Los Angeles International Airport, while Chicago O’Hare International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport offer colorful salads made with fresh greens grown right on-site in the nation’s first airport urban farms. Even fast-food chains are on board with the trend: The Counter, a burger chain at LAX, Miami International Airport, and San Diego International Airport, piles sprouts, tomatoes, and roasted corn and black bean salsa onto vegan veggie burgers.
From upscale restaurants to grab-and-go kiosks, the increased availability of plant-based options reflects a cultural shift: Consumers are demanding healthier, plant-based options, and restaurants are listening. According to The National Restaurant Association, vegan entrees are a rising trend for 2016, with demand increasing by 58 percent since last year.