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Demand For Vegan Airline Meals Soars By 40% With Economy Passengers Most Likely to Opt For Plant-Based Food

Demand For Vegan Airline Meals Soars By 40% With Economy Passengers Most Likely to Opt For Plant-Based Food

a man and woman sitting in an airplane eating food

As the world celebrates Veganuary – a month-long challenge held every January to embrace Veganism – the Dubai-based mega airline Emirates has reported a 40% year-on-year surge in passengers requesting plant-based meals that are compliant with a vegan diet.

To cater to this growing market, the airline has developed a menu of more than 300 vegan recipes, which is nearly double what Emirates’ in-house catering department offered only two years ago.

In 2023, Emirates served 450,000 plant-based meals onboard – a big increase on the 280,000 vegan and other plant-based meals the carrier served in 2022.

On average, Emirates has witnessed a 40% increase in customers requesting vegan-compliant meals, but in some markets, the demand for vegan meals has grown at an even faster pace.

In its home market of the Middle East, for example, requests for vegan meals have grown by a massive 74%, while Africa and Southeast Asia have seen demand for vegan meals rising by 44% and 45%, respectively.

Despite the growing demand, however, Emirates doesn’t serve a plant-based meal option on its flights as standard. Instead, customers must order a special meal at least 24 hours ahead of their flight.

There are a variety of options to choose from, including a Western-style vegan-compliant meal, as well as plant-based religious-compliant meals like a Jain meal.

Demand for vegan meals is growing fastest in the Economy cabin and even Emirates cabin crew are embracing a plant-based diet – in fact, the airline first introduced vegan meals specifically for cabin crew back in 2018.

Vegan-compliant meals have come a long way since the 1990s when Emirates first started serving plant-based foods. At the time, the airline only offered vegan meals on a handful of routes, such as between Dubai and Addis Ababa to cater for passengers of the Ethiopian Orthodox faith who required plant-based meals at certain times of year.

But with demand for vegan meals on the rise, later this year, Emirates plans to add even more plant-based options to its culinary offering, including fruit muffins and vegan pizza, chocolate pecan cake, and even a pistachio raspberry and raspberry tonka cake.

Vegan meal options are also available across Emirates’ worldwide lounge locations, but remember, if you want to eat a plant-based meal onboard, you’ll need to pre-order ahead of your flight.

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