Veganuary kicks off for 2023 as Emirates notes 154% increase in vegan meals

posted on 9th January 2023 by Eddie Saunders
Veganuary kicks off for 2023 as Emirates notes 154% increase in vegan meals

From its UK origins in 2014, the concept of ‘Veganuary’, a month-long initiative promoting the vegan diet, has continued to garner interest amongst the general population.

In fact, Emirates has noted a 154% increase in vegan meals served onboard between 2021 and 2022, with over 280,000 plant-based meals consumed in the past year.

Currently Emirates offers more than 180 recipes catering to vegan passengers or those looking for a healthy meal onboard, and has been serving vegan meals since the 1990’s.

Initially, vegan requirements were focused on specific routes such as Addis Ababa where vegan meals are required during certain times of the year by those practising the Ethiopian Orthodox faith, or across the Indian subcontinent where multiple faiths encourage a plant-based diet.

Over recent years however, vegan dishes have been rapidly gaining popularity on US, Australian, some European and UK routes, with Emirates noting a sizeable increase in interest in vegan dishes over the last decade. Routes showing recent increasing interest in vegan meals include Beirut, Cairo, and Taiwan.

Current vegan meal favourites in Economy Class include a creamy spinach and avocado mousseline, with marinated tofu, blanched snow peas, radish, asparagus, pomegranate seeds, courgette ribbon and sriracha oil; multicoloured quinoa with succulent caramelised pear and celeriac purée, roasted cauliflower, glazed carrots, sautéed kale and lovage pesto; and the hearty flavours of barley risotto with mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, buttered chestnuts, blanched broccolini and toasted pumpkin seeds.

A brand-new gourmet vegan menu was also introduced in 2022 to First and Business Class, including chef-curated dishes like pan-roasted king oyster mushrooms, jackfruit biryani, sliced kohlrabi and burnt orange, chocolate truffle cake with hazelnut, pistachio and gold leaf, and green grape tart with candied rose petals, vanilla custard and berry compote glistening with yuzu pearls.

Notably, over 195,000 vegan desserts were served in 2022 across all classes of travel, including tempting choices such as a dark chocolate custard cake balanced by fresh, juicy strawberries, zesty lemon tart lightly laced with coconut cream and rich chocolate tofu cheesecake complemented by a sweet strawberry compote.

Vegan options are available to order and pre-order onboard, as well as in Emirates Lounges.

Customers can request vegan meals on all Emirates flights and across all classes of travel up to 24 hours before departure.

However, on high-demand routes, plant-based meals are also provided as part of the main menu options.

Emirates investment into vegan cuisine

Already consistently rated as the best airline for vegan travellers by many dedicated website polls including VegNews, Emirates invested into developing a new First and Business Class vegan menu in 2022 to rival acclaimed restaurants.

It spent a year in development in Emirates Flight Catering, an expansive facility based at Dubai International airport, which is home to 11,000 employees and serves up to 225,000 meals daily, the largest flight catering facility in the world with international chefs of 69 different nationalities.

A panel of highly skilled and experienced Emirates Flight Catering chefs worked closely with nutritionists to identify ingredients from existing popular dishes, which can be adapted to a vegan offering without compromising on flavour.

They also focused on fusing flavours and ingredients from around the world to create a menu that will appeal to all passengers across the network, not just vegan customers.

The menu was the focus of multiple presentations and tastings, featuring contributions from diverse cuisine specialists like Chinese, Indian and Arabic speciality chefs, to create a wide range of flavours and textures.

The tasting panels included both vegan and non-vegan chefs and team-members to ensure an inclusive approach.