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Emirates Celebrates World Vegan Day With New Special Menu

The Middle East carrier is expanding its inflight menu with more vegan-friendly choices in response to heightened demand

by Fergus Cole

October 26, 2022

New Emirates Vegan Dishes-Quinoa Cakes / Photo: Courtesy Emirates Media Centre

Emirates is introducing new in-flight vegan meals ahead of World Vegan Day in November.

According to the Middle-East carrier, this initiative is part of a “resounding response to heightened demand for plant-based cuisine with a multimillion-dollar investment into new vegan choices onboard.” 

Emirates notes that interest in vegan food on flights has risen on Australian, American, and U.K. routes over the past ten years.

Vegan Marinated Tofu is just one of the many plant-based offerings at Emirates Premium Lounge Dubai. Photo: Courtesy of Emirates

All passengers will now be able to take advantage of the new options, with a gourmet selection—which has been in development for nearly a year now—available for business and first class customers.

The airline will update its new plant-based menus every month, taking inspiration from various cuisines. While Arabic cooking will naturally be on top of the list on every flight, passengers can also expect influences from Chinese and Indian specialty chefs.

From November 1, those flying with Emirates can choose options such as Beyond Meat koftas, vegan cheeses, and dark chocolate custard cake.

Emirates has provided meals without animal products since the 1990s. Initially, these were popular with Ethiopian Orthodox passengers and those from the Indian sub-continent, who abstained for religious reasons.

All this talk of improved vegan meals would only be complete with a smattering of sustainability—the new norm in the global aviation industry. All products will be sourced from the UAE, which ensures a minimal carbon footprint. 

Photo: Courtesy of The Blowup / Unsplash

One of the critical suppliers is Bustania, the world’s largest hydroponic vertical farm based in Dubai. The company will provide locally grown kale, cherry tomatoes, salad, and herbs.

Veganism has gained significant traction globally in recent years. Consumers—swayed by ethical and health reasons—have slowly but surely started moving away from animal food products. Airlines are now expected to serve at least some vegetarian meals to accommodate this.

Qantas recently found itself in hot water for not reintroducing vegetarian options, which were removed during the pandemic. However, following a social media firestorm, the Australian airline backtracked and brought a new vegetarian menu.

Airlines would be wise to take a leaf out of Emirates’ book. Introducing new plant-based options without being pressured is a fantastic way to endear oneself to passengers, as well as help to boost sustainable credentials at a time when carriers are under increased scrutiny to reduce emissions.