Airplane meals and decadence

vegetarian meal @Thai Airways

Vegetarian Meal by Akaitori (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

Signs of the times.

We are going to fly Qantas. On the airline website you have the opportunity to file any special meal request. Having no peculiar needs, I had never considered this option before.

I expected to find a list of meal types aimed at people with health problems and related dietary restrictions, including allergies/intolerances (nickel, crustaceans, nuts…), low sodium meals… But I failed to anticipate that problems come mostly from the mind, not from the body.

Of course you get at least the diabetic and coeliac options, plus, unexplicably, babies from 0 to 11 months and from 2 to 11 years (sounds like toddlers between 11 and 24 months are not fond of traveling -or eating).

Then you get the 3 “religious options”: Muslim, Jewish and Hindu prescriptions compliant meals. Ok.
But! Here’s the meat of this story: you have a choice between 6 different types of possible vegetarian meals! I mean, six!

On a plane!

6 different ways to be a vegetarian: you cannot help but distinguish yourself, in those few hours in flight, from all those dirty “vegetarians” who are doing it wrong


Tickled by the discovery, I perform a little web search: airplane vegetarian meal types are actually 7, but those rubes at Qantas are discriminating against raw foodists!

Here they are, from the loosest to the strictest one:

  1. old-fashioned Milk+Egg Vegetarians. They refuse to eat animal corpses, but they are ok with exploiting cows and chickens. Pathetic: they are not putting in the effort.
  2. Oriental Vegetarians and
  3. Asian Vegetarians: I got a bit perplexed because the distinction here isn’t self-explanatory at all… but essentially with type 2 you choose Chinese-Thai-Japanese style cuisine, type 3 is for those who prefer spicy Indian flavors. Things get complicated because it’s not clear how strict the Oriental meal will be, while the “Asian” (Indian) food is a notch stricter than type 1, banning eggs. Curious: they treat cows like people, but are ok with taking their milk. They could have a talk with animal rights warriors that cry exploitation.
  4. Vegans. An instant classic. Behold: you can get used to anything! Nowadays they are mainstream and you don’t need me to explain that at this level any animal related food is prohibited. Think it’s hard to improve on this? Think again. Let’s go further down.
  5. Strict Indian Vegetarians. That’s the label. Come again? Turns out these are meals prepared according to Jainist religious prescriptions. Beyond level 4, now foods that grow near or under the ground are also forbidden: that includes mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic… At least they still get to use lots of spices!
  6. Raw Foodists. Here we get people who avoid any form of cooking. We must admit though that the poor saps reintroduce some foods that were excluded from level 5. Like munching a raw onion.
  7. Fructarians. Ok, fruit. Only fruit. I could understand ordering just a fruit plate from time to time: I love fruit. But eating just that every single day

If you are a fructarian, during the trip you could always try to pretend you got an upset stomach and didn’t care for anything else… the only problem is, you booked the meal at least 24 hours in advance, so you lose your cover… wait for the guy sitting in the adjacent seat to point outside the window: “See!?! Our plane is participating in the World Chemtrail Dissemination Program!”

Meanwhile, just by realizing I’m a “No Special Meal” guy, I feel intensely ashamed: I must be some sort of homophobe.

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