Keeping a plant-based diet while traveling long distances can be a serious challenge. If you're driving, you can always try one of the many vegan fast food options, but frequent flyers struggle to find vegan meals or snacks in the air. Now, United Airlines is adding new Impossible Foods menu items to select flights and airport lounges. The new plant-based menu items are a first step in United's mission to improve sustainable offerings in the air.

“We want our food offerings to evolve and change along with people’s preferences – we’re proud to work with Impossible Foods and think our customers are really going to love these new options,” United Managing Director of Hospitality and Planning Aaron McMillan said. “To many travelers, the quality of food choices at the airport and in the sky are a really important part of the customer experience, so we’re invested in making sure our menu items exceed their expectations. This is the first of many updates we look forward to sharing in the months ahead.”

Currently, the airline flies between 100 million and 200 million people a year, meaning that a significant portion of flyers is likely following plant-based, flexitarian, or fully vegan diets. United will provide an Impossible Meatball Bowl to all first-class customers on domestic flights more than 800 miles in the continental U.S. The bowl features three vegan meatballs with broccolini, couscous, and herb-infused tomato sauce.

United will also provide a specialty vegan meat option for breakfast at the Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, Newark, and San Francisco Polaris lounges. The Impossible Sausage will be available for diners as an omelet ingredient or as a breakfast patty in the buffet. Unite aims to provide its customers and flyer with healthier, more sustainable options as customer preference begins to veer into plant-based interests.

“United is all about offering the highest quality customer experience, which is something we have in common here at Impossible Foods,” Senior Vice President of Sales at Impossible Foods Dan Greene said. “It's exciting to see the airline bring new options to consumers that are better tasting and better for the planet. We think United flyers are going to love having access to Impossible dishes in the air and in the lounge.”

Plant-Based Travel and In-Flight Experience

Vegan tourism is on the rise. Last September, a report revealed that vegan-friendly tourism is becoming a far more important segment of the overall travel industry. Surveying 5,700 people globally, the report found that nearly 76 percent of respondents believed that ethical and environmental sourcing of food influenced their choices. Now, tourism is nearly back to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, and more people than ever desire plant-based options.

One app, Vegvisits, works to alleviate the stress of plant-based travel. The global travel platform provides a resource for vegan tourists to find vegan and plant-based experiences while in new cities. Now, the app is available in over 80 countries and the founders, Linsey and Nicholas Minnella, hope to expand further.

This March, Delta Airlines announced its new plant-based menu, featuring five plant-based menu items. The plant-based dishes became available for the month-long trial period on flights that travel 900 miles or longer. The meatless meals – available to Delta One or First Class customers – included meatless meatballs from Impossible Foods and vegan lamb from Black Sheep Foods.

Bottom Line: It's Getting Easier Than Ever to Travel as a Plant-Based Person

This week United Airlines announced it is partnering with Impossible Foods to offer vegan and plant-based menu items on flights. More and more carriers and airports are beginning to cater to plant-based consumers.

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