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Reserving Vegetarian/vegan meal for flight?

Has anyone reserved a veg. meal for a flight? Was it edible? Or did you regret making the reservation? --Was/is it always pasta?

I ask because I am flying on an international flight that includes meals. I want to know if people have had a 'good' (at least edible, I don't expect greatness) meal for the vegetarian/vegan options.. or if I should just plan to bring my own dinner. I also don't like any pasta dishes.. so that is why I figured I would ask if it typically is pasta.

Thanks for any suggestions!

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  1. it depends on the airline. i rarely have gotten pasta, i think.

      1. re: enbell

        Thanks--yes! I looked through those.. they are entertaining, aren't they? They endorsed my decision to ask the question because they seem to--at times--be questionable.

      2. No standard answer. Depending on airline, city pairs, time of day, length of flight you may not be able to order a special meal. If you need to eat and have dietary restrictions, always bring your own.

        1. I just returned from Italy via American Airlines. My four meals consisted of a mild lentil curry with vegetables; couscous with eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes; and two variations of a tex-men veg, rice and beans, one moderately spiced, one mild. All were served with fresh cut fruit and bread. Main meal included salad and cookies. They were actually quite edible, not dry and flavorless. You also get served first!

          1. GraceW, as others have said, it depends on the airline, length of flight, destination and class of service. I have had good/very good and inedible so I can't be of much help. Back in the olden days (!) ordering a 'special meal' was almost guaranteed to be a better choice than whatever else was being served. For that reason, I have ordered the whole gamut - from halal to kosher to vegetarian and others which escape my memory. Nothing sticks out as 'fabulous' in the special meal category. Best food I've ever had was First Class British Air, NY - London. I didn't want to get off the plane, but that is another post.

            Edit: I don't recall the vegetarian meals as being pasta-heavy. You might think about bringing some foods that you enjoy just to hedge your bets.

            1. British Airways has an Indian vegan meal ("Asian Vegetarian" choice) that is pretty decent, as far as airline food goes. Usually a nicely spiced dal-like dish with rice. Chutneys, mango pickle, a roll and some pudding thingy. Sometimes a little salad too. It's actually not bad.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Science Chick

                um, not necessarily. The Indian "Asian Vegetarian" meal I ordered on British Airways looked awful. I say "looked" because the one time I ordered it (on a flight from London to Mumbhai, via Dubai), the airline loaded enough beef meals for everyone on the plane (most folks did not pre-order meals) and two "Asian Vegetarian" meals for my husband and I (at the time DH had not yet gone vegetarian, but our experience was that the pre-ordered meals were better.) Well, the flight from Dubai to Mumbhai was full of Indian nationals returning from working the oil fields (It was right before New Year's, so I assume they had holidays). Anyway, none of them wanted the beef, naturally. So DH and I traded our Veggie meals with folks near us for the beef meals. The beef meals looked a lot better, btw. Shame on British Airways for having no option other than beef on a plane they should have known would be full of Hindus.

                DH finally tried the "Asian Vegetarian" meal on a flight to Mumbhai several years ago (I stayed at home). He reported back that it tasted no better than it looked....

                1. re: janetofreno

                  All that being said, the regular vegetarian meals on Delta on recent flights to/from Tokyo were pretty good, and better than the regular meal imo. One out of the four contained pasta, but two of the four were breakfasts.

                  1. re: janetofreno

                    British Airways flies from Dubai to Mumbai? I never knew that.

                    1. re: butterchicken2nan

                      Well, it was quite a few years ago, so the schedule could have changed. So could have the food, but DH says no....Same ole, same ole...

                    2. re: janetofreno

                      I've had them several times from Boston to London and they were fine. I'm not saying this was gourmet dining, just a heck of a lot better than the feeble vegetarian meal my DH got (with limp pasta).

                      We are flying Austrian Airlines in September and ordered them again. Will report back!

                  2. Just assume its going to suck and bring your own meal. Something like a just add hot water meal cup thingy is perfect- so if you're pleasantly surprised it will keep.

                    Absolutly bring your own meal if you are vegan.
                    I've had some good meals flying back to the US from abroad but not the other way around. For overnight flights I usually eat before boarding, ask them to leave me alone and have an ambien snack :)

                    1. I've had a lot of pasta meals on domestic carriers headed to Europe. Cheesy, overcooked pasta bake things. Bring your own snacks so you won't go hungry if the meal is inedible. If there is an Indian/Asian veg. choice, that is likely to be pretty good, as Science Chick said. And international carriers tend to be better.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jennymoon

                        I think it really depends on the international carrier (and the primary clientele they serve). This wasn't that recent, but 10 years ago on Air France flights between NYC and Paris and return the veg main plates consisted of plain rice, potatoes, and overcooked vegetables. That's it. I'd hope they've improved, but wouldn't bank on it. So, I definitely agree with bring your own snacks.

                      2. Don't overthink this. As a ff who has ordered special meals for years, I can tell you that 1) they vary 2) find one you like and they'll change it. 3) the odds that they will actually have the meal you reserved are not all that high.

                        Maybe you'll get your special meal 6 or 7 flights out of 10. Remember that if you have to change connections mid-trip, your special won't be on the rebooking. Or it doesn't get loaded, or coded correctly or.. there are so many ways this happens. I have even had stewards deliver my meal to the wrong aisle/row/seat.

                        The step that is really crucial to your happiness on long flights is to always take food in your carry on.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: AdinaA

                          Oh, yes. Totally true. I've had flights where they ran out of veg meals before they got to me, even when I reserved one, or just don't have them at all. Don't depend on the in-flight meal. That way if it happens to exist and be good, it's a pleasant surprise!

                        2. Wow, if you go int'l ask for the options and see if you can get "Indian Vegetarian" that's been great, really delicious. Asking for generic 'vegan' or just 'vegetarian' usually gets you pasta and a cookie and a cold salad...bad..bad..bad..I bring my own food when I fly and there is no Indian veg option.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Rory

                            The airline description is Asian Vegetarian (AVML) - and it is usually awesome - almost always Indian - not necessarily vegan though, it often contains paneer or cream sauce.

                            Talking from experience on BA and Virgin - so you would expect the Indian food to be of high quality.

                            1. re: butterchicken2nan

                              Please note that it depends entirely on airline as to how things are described and what is available. I am about to fly and had a choice of not only Asian Vegetarian, but Asian Vegan and Indian Vegetarian and Indian Vegan. There were further options as well. What I will get or if things will be forgotten entirely, we will see for this upcoming trip.

                              Personally as long as it is in line with your tastes consider any vegetarian option that is not a western vegetarian style option. At least for a dinner type selection you are bound to get something that has a bit more flavor. For an overnight flight be warned that everyone else around you will be getting a yummy looking breakfast or snack option (comparatively), possibly even a vegetarian option and you will be provided something simply revolting. It baffles the mind that when the option you choose matches whatever the plane is already being served that you don't get to eat that. Why wold they provide something else when they are already serving the right thing?

                              A good example was a flight a good while back that included me ordering a vegetarian lacto ova meal. As the filling snack option my husband was provided a fabulous cheese sandwich with tomato, hot and toasty. Me? I got some werido bun with some type of mayo spread, a slice of tomato and a single slice of cucumber. It was ghastly and untouchable. We have a picture of me holding it with a frowny face as a momento.

                              Long and short, pack a snack or grab something to take with you in the airport like trail mix so that you can be prepared.

                          2. after receiving hideous kids' meals, I just quit messing with it (every airline we flew handed out soggy chicken nuggets and runny mashed potatoes or limp fries. Ugh.)

                            I just resign myself that the onboard meal isn't going to be all that great and look forward to my meals in Europe.

                            On the way home, I'm usually too tired to care.

                            1. I appreciate the info about the Indian Veg meals. For some reason the smell of Indian spices makes me nauseated.. so I went for the Asian Veg. I will report back how it tastes.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: GraceW

                                As I read the descriptions above, 'Asian Veg' IS Indian vegetarian, they are not different items. Sounds like you should bring snacks.

                                1. re: susancinsf

                                  Yes, Asian Veg is their code for Indian......

                                  1. re: Science Chick

                                    They were two different options for my carrier--regardless, I will definitely bring high-protein snacks.

                                    1. re: GraceW

                                      Virgin and Lufthansa (which I flew) had fab Indian food. GraceW, make some cashew butter & jelly sandwiches, or buy hummus & baba ghanoush, ripe bananas, tofu/tempeh egg sald (you can see I've practice) and cookies, almond milk. You'll be happy you did.

                              2. I recently flew AA to Tokyo. On the first leg of the trip, my vegetarian meal was a pretty nice spinach empanada-type thing, some couscous with tomato and cucumber, a green salad, and a fruit salad. Not bad at all. On the second leg, the meal was plain spaghetti plated (container-ed?) next to a stew of potatoes, corn, string beans, green peppers and sunflower seeds. I don't even know what the hell *that* was supposed to be. So there's really no way to tell - same airline, same trip, two very different meals.

                                1. It did end up being a curry/Indian-type of meal for me.. on both the flight abroad and the return flight. In the future, I will definitely reserve in-advance again because even if it was curry/Indian, I appreciated getting it first and not having to even deal-with or pick-around any-type of meat.

                                  Also the return-flight back into the US was much better than the flight-out.. even though it had the same Indian-main; it also had a fresh looking salad with chopped vegetables on top, fresh fruit, a roll with Kerrygold butter, and also a dessert.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: GraceW

                                    Did you request vegan and they gave you butter?? Regardless it sounds like the experience and meal was good enough to avoid resorting to emergency snack stash.

                                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                                      Selecting vegan .. means you get the vegetarian option.. which meant that there was yogurt on the flight there as part of the meal and butter on the way back. --Regardless, I was still impressed because it was way better than eating the random vegetables off of a meat-dish on an airplane.

                                  2. I just flew Lufthansa and Air Canada over seas. I could not pick vegan but asked for oriental veg and asian veg. Air Canada had no special meals, just the veg and non-veg option for everyone.

                                    Asian veg is more likely to be curry, vegetables, rice. Oriental is more likely noodle based (I had a veg noodle dish for breakfast).

                                    Air Canada had a tomato/spinach/cheese wrap and a tomato/cheese pasta for the two meals.

                                    Personally, I would just bring my own if you are picky.


                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: blinknoodle

                                      Blinknoodle, just for future reference, on both Lufthansa and Air Canada (and on many other airlines), the standard "Vegetarian meal (Western)", is vegan in the sense that it contains no meat or fish products and no dairy products or eggs (don't know about honey). If you want vegetarian with eggs and dairy, you have to order the "Vegetarian meal (Lacto-Ovo)".

                                      The Vegetarian (Indian) -- sometimes called Asian-- means vegetarian with dairy but no eggs on most airlines, since that's the Hindu definition of vegetarian.

                                      1. re: ninrn

                                        Oh, great to know. I'll keep that in mind next time

                                        1. re: blinknoodle

                                          Air Canada veg meals are vegan as well.

                                    2. As others have said, it depends on the airline. I've had good and bad. One surprising experience was with Qatar Air. They're a really good airline and the main hot part of each meal was delicious (definitely not pasta). However, I'd ordered vegan so was very surprised that to go with my hot meal, I got a roll with dairy butter and dairy cheese, and a small pot of yoghurt for dessert.
                                      The crew were unable to tell me what had happened but I later queried it with their head office and I was told that the only part of each meal which is adaptable is the hot part. All the other ingredients on the tray are the same for every passenger, regardless of what dietary requirements they had requested.
                                      That was a few years ago so it may have changed.
                                      I would recommend contacting the airline direct with any queries.