Saturday, April 13, 2013

UNITED AIRLINES in-flight vegan meal REVIEW

Our sad vegan meal on United Airlines

United Airlines
In-flight mealsSummer 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words and it is especially true in this review of vegan dinner service on UNITED AIRLINES INTERNATIONAL flight.

I don't think anyone enjoys airline meals anymore, which is a shame because when I was younger, I used to look forward to the in-flight meal which was never delicious, but 
Notice the drops of food coloring trying to pass for vegetables!
edible and certainly not awful. Now a days, I have to say, that airline food is d-i-s-g-u-s-t-i-n-g! Even though we no longer each much of it, my kids and I always order a special meal when traveling on an airplane that has food service, just in case it turns out to be edible.  We like to order Vegan although not every airline offers it, but we found every airline has a Vegetarian option so that is our second choice. We travel to London almost every summer and the flight is 11 hours from San Francisco to London. and it would be so nice to have a nice meal to look forward to. Sadly, in the last 6 years, we've never had a decent meal, and this time was no exception, if not the WORST MEAL WE HAVE EVER BEEN SERVED. Even though my kids are vegetarian, they order VEGAN meals with me from the airlines just to avoid the potentially hazardous and possibly spoiled dairy options. A good friend of mine who used to be a flight attendant, once told me that after seeing what goes on "behind closed curtains" in the galley of an airplane, she would never, ever let her kids (or herself!) eat what is served on a plane. I listened to what she told me and have not put another bit of uncooked food (salad, fruit, etc.) in my mouth since. Sometimes though, I like to try the entree if it is hot, just to see what the chef thinks would be an appetizing meal for a vegan. This particular United Flight offered us a meal with an Indian...theme, or so it smelled like Indian Food. The entree came in three sections, one section looked like a legume  of some sort, one section was a dark brown, mushy substance I am thinking was vegetables, maybe eggplant or squash of some kind. And in the middle was some sort of grain which I believe was some sort of couscous. But you haven't heard the best part. Inside of, or rather on top of, the couscous, were these brightly colored specks of red and green. It was difficult to tell what they were at first, but upon closer inspection, it turned out to be specks of food coloring! Incredible! Instead of spending 5 cents to throw in a few micro bits of red peppers or peas for color, the airline chef decided to add just the color, as in FOOD COLORING to make it look like there were bits of vegetable in the grain! ! I couldn't believe my eyes, I just had to take a photo of it. My sons and I have been laughing about it ever since. How low can you go when pinching pennies preparing a meal. We were wondering who's job it was at the food prep center to drip the spots of food coloring on the food before sending it out as a special meal. My advice? BRING YOUR OWN FOOD ON THE PLANE WITH YOU!

Now that most airlines are allowing solid food to be taken on-board again, we always pack some snacks to take with us because 11 hours is a long time to go without eating.  I have a few favorites that are easy to travel with . Trail Mix: I like to mix some almonds, dried cranberries, walnuts and a few vegan dark chocolate chips in a bag to snack on. That helps with energy and the chocolate chips help with our sweet tooth. Other favorites are almond butter sandwiches, dry cereal, peanut butter krispies (recipe in Kind Diet book by Alicia Silverstein), and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies found in the Real Food Daily Cookbook. They are made with dried fruit (recipe calls for dates but sometimes I use prunes), and they are healthy and delicious. 

Love these healthy vegan cookies which are also easy to pack!

AND, of course, we always buy a big bottle of water before we board and make sure we sip it throughout the flight. Staying hydrated really helps with headaches and fatigue that gets me when I change so many time zones. Flight attendants do hand out cups of water during the flight, but inevitably they handle the cup by the rim, which is so unappealing since they have just handled a few hundred cups, plates, trash, etc. throughout the flight and then pass you a cup with the same hand. NO thank you!

Friday, April 12, 2013

HEALTHY DINING: San Francisco Airport

I'm going to begin with our trip to England in the Summer 2012. We left from San Francisco Airport and here is my journal entry from that day:

June 10, 2012
San Francisco Airport
International Terminal
United Airlines

Wow! How disappointing SFO was this trip for veggie food options and healthy choices. I thought San Francisco was the utmost in healthy eating /healthy living places, so I had high hopes for healthy food choices at the airport. Our flight to England was on United Airlines and unfortunately  we were at the United Airlines International Terminal 5 hours early (turned out to be over 7 hours since the plane was VERY late). Strolling down the row of food choices next to the gates there were only about 6 choices. There was an Il Forniaio, Italian of course, which served only panini sandwiches, none of which were vegan and I did not even see a "just cheese" sandwich for vegetarians. They offered no hot dishes such as pizza or pasta. Very disappointing .Next was a Japanese restaurant that did not have any vegetarian dishes except a small bowl of edamame. Hard to believe. Finally, we ventured down the row near Gate 94 to a Mexican Restaurant called Andale, which actually offered a tiny Vegetarian menu of 4 items (see photo) but we were thrilled to see it. The prices were expensive (around $10 per entree) and portions were small, but we did find a tofu burrito and taco. Since we had 7 hours to wait before our flight left (see story under United Airlines) I sadly decided to visit the bar at Andele before we ordered food. Big mistake. Not only were the margueritas more expensive than the meal ($13 each for Marguerita rocks, I stupidly didn't ask the price before I ordered) but they were VERY strong. Too strong for someone getting on an 11 hour flight. Alcohol is the enemy on an airplane flight ( causing added dehydration and a general feeling of being unwell. It was unusual for me to drink at all, but I was feeling in "happy travel" mood and we did have several hours to go before we boarded. In the end,  I chose not to finish my drink (good bye $6.00!). We all ordered some veggie tacos, which were fine but bland and were a very meager portion. I think a burrito would have been a better choice. They also had a salsa bar which we did not see until we were leaving. That might of helped with the bland-ness of the meal.

All in all I would rate this place 7 out of 10. Normally probably 5 out of 10, but we were so happy to find a vegetarian/vegan option, it gets a few more points.


Ahhhh, trying to stay healthy when traveling! An impossible task you say? Not at all! And that's why I'm here to help!

Following a few healthy ideas when you travel will allow you feel great, enjoy your adventure that much more, and feel good about being yourself and the planet. Just a little bit of planning ahead of time, and you are on your way to good health and happiness on your next journey! ❤