The airline is meeting the ever-growing demand for plant-based catering onboard with new menus in time for World Vegan Day.
While many airlines still insist on serving options such as well-documented environmentally unsustainable beef, many have also listened to the request of passengers who do not want to compromise on their ethical and earth-friendly food choices while traveling. One of those airlines is Emirates, which has just announced that it is issuing a "resounding response to heightened demand for plant-based cuisine with a multimillion-dollar investment into new vegan choices onboard" in time for World Vegan Day on November 1.
The airline also shared some history of its vegan offerings, which began in the 1990s. At the time, it was mostly a service to cater to travelers from Addis Ababa who regularly abstain from animal products in their diets due to religious requirements of the Ethiopian Orthodox faith. Initially, the choice was also most popular on the Indian subcontinent.
However, with more and more of the world's population adopting a plant-based lifestyle for ethical, environmental or health reasons, an increasing amount of passengers have begun requesting "vegan" as their special meal option. Emirates says it has seen a significant increase on US, Australian, some European and UK routes, but also on services from Beirut, Cairo, and Taiwan.
Now, the carrier says it has introduced a curated menu of gourmet vegan dishes into first and business class, while economy menus have also seen a refreshed selection of plant-based produce. The menu for first and business has been in development for an entire year at the Emirates Flight Catering facilities in Dubai. It features contributions from diverse cuisine specialists like Chinese, Indian and Arabic specialty chefs, and tasting panels included both vegan and non-vegan chefs and team members.
The vegan dishes in economy will also be refreshed every month to provide variety to frequent travelers. According to the airline, current passenger favorites include creamy spinach and avocado mousseline with marinated tofu, blanched snow peas, radish, asparagus, pomegranate seeds, courgette ribbon, and sriracha oil, or the multicolored quinoa with caramelized pear and celeriac purée, roasted cauliflower, glazed carrots, sautéed kale and lovage pesto, and barley risotto with mushrooms, served with sundried tomatoes, buttered chestnuts, blanched broccolini and toasted pumpkin seeds.
The vegan desserts include dark chocolate custard cake balanced by fresh, juicy strawberries, a zesty lemon tart lightly laced with coconut cream, and a rich chocolate tofu cheesecake complemented by a sweet strawberry compote. (Ok, we forgive you for taking a break from reading and whipping up a snack or two because we just got very hungry – for plane food!)
In order to make the new menu, Emirates has looked to alternative plant-based ingredients such as artisan vegan cheeses, using coconut or vegetable-based cream instead of full-fat dairy cream, and Beyond Meat products to make vegan koftas for business class passengers, etc. Fruits and vegetables are sourced from several UAE-based suppliers, including fresh locally grown kale, heirloom cherry tomatoes, salad leaves and herbs from the world’s largest hydroponic vertical farm, a US$40 million joint venture investment through Emirates Flight Catering called Bustanica.
There are many ways to embrace a vegan lifestyle. However, what all vegans have in common is choosing not to eat any products derived from animals. This includes obvious things such as meat and fish, but you can also see vegans scouring ingredient lists for items such as gelatin, certain food coloring (ground-up lice, anyone?), or honey. They also spend a disproportionate amount of time discussing protein contents and vitamin B12 with people who all seem to gain a degree in nutrition at the mention of the word vegan. Meanwhile, thanks to airlines such as Emirates, they will, at the very least, not have to spend hours making plane-friendly food to take along to get through their next long-haul. Happy World Vegan Day!
Lead Sustainability Journalist – With a Masters in International Relations, Linnea has combined her love for current affairs with her passion for travel to become a key member of the Simple Flying team. With eight years’ experience in publishing and citations in publications such as CNN, Linnea brings a deep understanding of politics and future aviation tech to her stories. Based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
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