As you may have guessed from the title, I have some quite strong feelings about the subject of this blog post.
To give you some background, before I went to Brazil, I hadn't been in an aeroplane for over eight years, which was also before I went vegan, although I was already vegetarian by that point. In general, I remember the vegetarian food on board being pretty poor in quality, and having problems getting any vegetarian food at all on at least one occasion.
Despite having this in mind when boarding the plane, on the flight out to Rio de Janeiro with British Airways, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was it simple and straightforward to order a vegan meal in advance, but that the food provided was really very good! I enjoyed some excellent couscous and vegetables, a lentil salad, a tomato and vegetable panini and much more besides. However, this post is about the experience I had last night and today on the return trip flying back home from Rio, which was significantly less enjoyable.
The first problem arose when the cabin crew brought out the meal at the beginning of the flight. Now, one of the nice things about being vegetarian or vegan on an airline which is happy to provide food for you is that you usually get your meal brought out to you first, before the meat-based ones are given out. However, unfortunately this also gives other people the opportunity to see your food and decide that they would rather eat that themselves, and this is what happened to me last night. Whilst the cabin crew did work hard and manage to pull together a pretty good tray of fruit, plain crisps and nuts for me once they realised that they had given my meal to someone else, it really wasn't filling enough for a main meal and I was left hungry for the majority of the 11 hour long flight.
It was pretty obvious who had taken my meal for themselves in this instance as they were sitting only a couple of rows away. They semi-apologised to me once this had become apparent by saying that they were veggie themselves, had forgotten to order their meal in advance and had taken mine by mistake, believing that there would be more vegetarian and vegan options available, which does of course make sense, not least because many non-vegetarians would be likely to choose a good veggie option themselves given the choice.
I accepted this somewhat unhappily right up until breakfast was served just before landing. As the cabin crew were now aware that I was the person who had ordered a vegan meal, having checked the seat number with their paperwork, I did in fact get my meal this time, and it was very good. I especially enjoyed the hot tofu and spinach sandwich!
It was at around this time, however, that I noticed that the same person who had decided to take my vegan meal on the same flight the night before, claiming to be veggie themselves, was now happily tucking into a cheese and ham sandwich provided as the standard hot breakfast. I just can't understand why someone would behave like this in such a self-centred manner, and lie about it to my face when it was obvious that I would find out that they weren't vegan, much less vegetarian.
This whole incident annoyed me for several reasons, not the least of which being the preventability of it. If the cabin crew had bothered to check the seat number for the vegan meal before giving it out, this wouldn't have happened. If the airline stocked spare veggie meals as standard, or offered it as an option to all passengers, this wouldn't have happened.
However, it did happen, and as a result I spent the majority of my flight hungry. With a few simple steps this could easily be prevented from happening again, but having spoken to a few other vegetarians and vegans about it today, it seems like this happens a lot and the aviation industry just doesn't care enough to make these small changes.
So that's my rant over for today. I promise to try to post something more positive next time as the Vegan Month of Food continues!