Working to improve in-flight vegan catering

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In 2017, The Vegan Society launched Vegan on the Go – our campaign to improve out of home catering for vegans. While the market is always improving, there are some situations in which vegans struggle to find suitable food. Working to improve this makes it easier for people to achieve and maintain a plant-based diet.

In its first year, Vegan on the Go looked at grab-and-go options on the UK high street – a situation which is now much improved. In 2018, we turned our attention to the travel sector, beginning with the rail industry. The campaign was a huge success, and we ended the year with almost every rail company offering a wider selection of vegan options and several running large advertising campaigns around their new products.

FlyVe Vegan on the Go

And now – Vegan on the Go is back! This year we’re teaming up with Humane Society International UK to improve inflight vegan options.

While we all need to do our bit to keep air travel to a minimum, it is only right that there is a vegan option available for those who do fly. Sometimes a vegan meal is difficult or impossible to order, or arrives and is clearly unsuitable for vegans. In some cases, this can leave a passenger with only crisps and nuts to eat over the course of a long-haul flight.

We want airlines to add well-labelled vegan options to their standard menus, meaning that they do not have to be requested specially and are available for anyone to order. We are reaching out to airlines to speak to them directly about this, but we need your help!

Introducing FlyVe – the first rating system for inflight vegan catering. We launched the FlyVe website at the end of April, and have already racked up nearly 100 reviews from vegan passengers.

Visitors to the website can rate their experience flying with a particular company. The criteria for rating are: availability, quality, price, selection, ease of ordering and the  helpfulness of the airline. Reviewers also have the option to include any additional comments, and to upload a picture of the food they were served.

Flying ahead of the curve is Turkish Airlines, with an accumulated total of 4.9 stars out of five! Reviewer Melissa states:

Had a great experience with Turkish Airlines last month. Purely vegan meal including hot bread and vegan butter. We had a tomato and mushroom pasty for breakfast, a veggie ratatouille with soy meat for main and we also had another breakfast which was basically a fry up without the meat but had hash browns, beans, mushrooms tomatoes etc. Everything served with bread and fruit as well as vegan cakes. Really great options!

However, not all airlines have got their systems and customer service down so well. Complaints levelled at some companies include some very concerning information. It seems that some airlines have a way to go in terms of educating their staff about vegan diets and the rights of vegans. Some passengers have been given non-vegan food, or had their specially-ordered meal given to another passenger by accident. Some passengers have had to make do on long-haul flights with only fruit and crisps for an evening meal.

If you have recently flown as a vegan and would like to share your experiences (good or bad!) please go to vegansociety.com/veganonthego and fill in the form. Together we can help to make inflight catering more inclusive, environmentally-friendly and compassionate.

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