As global interest peaks in Veganuary – an initiative that has highlighted the benefits of a vegan diet for the last decade, Emirates has noted a surge of 40% in customer demand for plant-based meals. To meet this demand in 2024, Emirates will introduce an array of new vegan dishes onboard and in lounges later this year, adding even more dishes to its ‘vegan vault’ of more than 300 curated plant-based recipes.
Emirates vegan meals: Bitesize Breakdown
- In 2023, Emirates has more than 300 vegan recipes in rotation across 140 destinations, up from 180 recipes in 2022.
- In 2023, Emirates served more than 450,000 plant-based meals onboard, an increase from 280,000 plant-based meals served in 2022.
- Vegan meal consumption has grown 40% year on year in line with passenger volumes, but in some regions, consumption has exceeded passenger volume growth – such as Africa with an additional 4% increase, Southeast Asia with an additional 5% increase, and the Middle East showing a significant additional increase of 34%.
- The biggest increase in consumption of vegan meals occurred in Economy Class.
- Significant increases were noted specifically on Emirates routes to China, Japan and Philippines.
- Many Emirates Cabin Crew are also embracing a plant-based diet, as Emirates introduced vegan meals for Cabin Crew in 2018.
Emirates vegan cuisine in every class
In Economy class, Emirates customers can enjoy moreish dishes like chickpea crepe stuffed with carrot, peppers, mushroom and tomato concasse, experience a textured pumpkin frittata, tuck into a tofu tikka masala or enjoy a hearty chickpea kale stew with parsley pilaf rice and baby spinach. Scrumptious vegan desserts in Economy include a coconut mousse with mango compote, moist banana cake with chocolate crumble or luscious chocolate pudding with cocoa soil.
In Premium Economy class, customers choosing vegan cuisine will be served nutritiously delicious dishes like jackfruit curry with basmati rice, or a rich squash chestnut stew followed by a light chocolate tofu cheesecake or a smooth and satisfying raspberry parfait with a pop of orange compote.
In Business class, a range of elegant and creatively curated dishes are offered including roasted cauliflower with ancient grains, caramelised pear and lovage pesto or a warming ragout of Asian tofu and shitake mushroom with glass noodles. Customers who have room for dessert can feast on a tropical coconut pineapple cake or indulge in a chocolate cheesecake accented by a dark chocolate cigar and strawberry compote.
In First class, customers will be treated to exceptionally elevated vegan cuisine like creamy polenta cake with thyme mushroom ragout, sautéed spinach drizzled in a rich root vegetable jus. Dishes offering a burst of sophisticated flavours include aubergine curry with charred rice and turmeric potato, with a dash of coconut and mint chutney. Decadent desserts feature curated contrasts including the tartness of rhubarb tempered with strawberry charlotte, Chantilly cream and raspberry tuille, or a tempting warm chocolate fondant, dashed with salted caramel sauce and whipped cashew cream.
Later in the year, Emirates will be launching a selection of new vegan main courses, new vegan snacks such as fruit muffins and vegan pizza, and an array of delectable desserts including chocolate pecan cake, pistachio raspberry and raspberry tonka cake.
Vegan options are available to pre-order onboard and order directly in First Class, 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.
The best vegan ingredients from around the world
Emirates continues to elevate cuisine in the sky, with high quality products sourced from every corner of the globe. Some of the products used are plant-based proteins from California’s Beyond Meat, soybean protein from Singapore and UAE-based Arlene, Qian Ye pressed tofu from Japan, organic dark vegan chocolate from Linnolat in France, vegan margarine from MeisterMarken in Germany, vegan curry paste from Pantai in Thailand, Koita almond milk from Italy, amongst many others. Emirates also incorporates fresh locally grown kale and lettuce from Bustanica – the world’s largest hydroponic vertical farm, a joint venture investment through Emirates Flight Catering. The Bustanica produce is grown without pesticides, herbicides, or chemicals and First and Business Class passengers can enjoy farm fresh leafy greens in some dishes, including lettuces, arugula, mixed salad greens, and spinach.
History of vegan cuisine and Emirates
Emirates 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 regions 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 Asian routes, with Emirates noting a sizeable increase in interest in vegan dishes over the last decade. A brand-new gourmet vegan menu was introduced in 2022 to First and Business Class to offer even more choices to Emirates customers following a vegan lifestyle, or simply looking for a healthy and light meal choice while travelling.