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VeganMoFo: The wonders of mile-high vegan eating


This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food - or VeganMoFo to you and me. To learn more about Vegan Mofo, click here.



There are only two things that can help distract you from the grim reality of air travel - being trapped in a metal tube, with a foot of legroom and in uncomfortable proximity to any number of strangers, sleeping, drooling and farting for several hours - and those two things are food and films.

Only if you're a vegan, you've just got films to look forward to. Because if you're a vegan, as far as the airlines are concerned, you must have had your tastebuds disconnected and you might just as well lick your paper antimacassar as attempt to enjoy the plastic-wrapped crap that will turn up in front of you.

Let's examine the four horseman of the vegan airline meal in an attempt to see why it's just so fricking terrible: the salad, the main, the dessert and the roll and butter.

The salad: you can expect undressed leaves. This will seem particularly odd in light of the fact that your co-air-travellers will also be tucking into a salad - a salad that if you take out the cheese, would easily be vegan. There maybe some nuggets of taste winking at you from your neighbour's plate - olives, red onions, herbs - but don't expect the same to be gifted to you. No, dry leaves are for you, my animal-free friend.

Perhaps, if you travel with British Airways, you will receive a pot of salad dressing with your vegan meal. Likely as not, despite being included in a vegan meal, it won't actually be vegan and when you point this out to the airline, they will say you are making it up. You are not. You saw both milk and egg ingredients listed on the packet. Nice one, BA. Give your vegan passengers non-vegan ingredients, then when they inform you of your mistake, insult them.

The main meal: this will be either pasta, cous cous or curry with rice. This won't actually be too bad. It won't have much taste, and will be oddly sweet. You'll be forced to add industrial quantities of salt and pepper to try and make it taste of something. Your doctor won't be pleased.

The dessert: this will be fruit. It will never be anything else. There will definitely be melon and apple, and possibly orange. All of these will be given to you as tiny cubes or slices. You'd rather just have an apple or an orange. You will nonetheless think 'well, this could be worse' as you eat it. Then you will think 'Would it kill them to give me a cookie? The veggies and omnis get cake. Would it be a terrible imposition to source a measly sodding vegan biscuit?' You may, on extremely rare occasions, get that biscuit. You will then wish for fruit instead.

The roll and spread: you will be aware that you're eating this only because the nerves in your mouth tell you there is matter there. You won't know because of the taste, because there isn't any. Also, you have a 50-50 chance of having vegan spread if you're flying BA or Virgin - you're just as likely to have a milk-containing spread put on your plate. Would the airlines consider putting steak on the plate of a vegetarian? Of course not. But you, dear vegan, won't be granted the same consideration.

Sure, airline food is shit. Everyone knows it's shit - it's the standard of crap stand-up comics across the western world. Don't think I'm asking for gourmet food - it's just that vegan food on airlines is shitter than  the normal shit, we don't even get the same quality of shit as everyone else, we get shitter shit.

The annoying thing is that I always feel pathetically grateful for what turns up - because half the time, no vegan meal turns up at all, and with a shrug of an air stewardess' shoulders, I'm consigned to 11 hours of a grumbling stomach.

I've been mithering the airlines about their vegan options - specifically about whether they'll be improving them and actually making them 100 per cent vegan, 100 per cent of the time - feel free to join in.

In the meantime, if you want decent scran on your plane journey, just bring it yourself.

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5 comments

  1. This is totally spot-on! The salad thing always bugs me too! So true about the mains (couscous, pasta or curry, always too sweet). The worst part for me is breakfast - everyone else gets a piece of fresh fruit, and I get stuck with a cup of tiny fruit pieces floating in sugar water. Yech! Anyway, great post, it made me laugh (cry?) to see that someone else shares my experience when flying!

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  2. This is incredibly timely, as I'm flying from the US to Italy this weekend. You reminded me to call KLM and request vegan meals, so thanks! I'll definitely be blogging about the experience... :)

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  3. haha, shitter than the usual shit, oh so true!

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  4. Ha, so true. I hate always getting non vegan stuff with my VGML. I've never actually been given vegan margarine on a flight and Kuwait Air gave me a dairy laden croissant & insisted that I should eat it anyway because 'what does it matter' - so rude!

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  5. I think every vegan who has ever flown knows exactly what you're talking about because it seems we've all had the exact same experience!

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