Cool: Qatar Airways Launches Vegan Business Class Menu

Filed Under: Qatar

While I’m not a vegetarian (anymore), here’s a change I’m very happy to see…

Qatar Airways’ new vegan dishes

While it has long been possible to pre-order a “special” vegan meal, Qatar Airways is now adding fully vegan options to its a la carte menu for business class passengers. This will be available on all flights from Doha and select flights to Doha, and is intended to cater to the growing demand for plant-based food.

New vegan menu items include smoked moutabel, spiral courgettes and arrabbiata sauce, tofu and spinach tortellini, asian barbecue tofu, noodles, scallions and shiitake, fried tofu with vegetable tajine, cauliflower couscous and kalamata bruschetta, and chickpea flour omelette.

As Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker explains:

“We always strive to provide our customers with authentic and indulgent experiences in the skies. We are delighted to incorporate a vegan main course choice to our on-board menu, offering our passengers yet another lifestyle choice that redefines the expectations from a five-star airline.”

I have to commend His Excellency for using the term “lifestyle choice” correctly, which is refreshing to see… 😉

Passengers can continue to pre-order vegan meals if they’d like, in both economy and business class. This new vegan option in business class just gives people more flexibility, should they only want vegan food for part of their meal.

Why I love this change

I love the fact that Qatar Airways is integrating vegan dishes into its menu, and that’s despite the fact that I’m not a vegan/vegetarian (at least not anymore). A bit of background on me, and let me acknowledge that I’m extremely quirky in this regard:

  • When I was younger I was a vegetarian for about eight years, because I love animals
  • I still don’t eat pork, because I think pigs are really intelligent, and I’d love to have one as a pet (this has little to do with Qatar Airways, since the airline doesn’t serve pork)
  • I don’t mind eating fish, because I don’t think fish have feelings (at least not in the same way as cows, chickens, pigs, etc.)
  • While I do eat chicken, beef, etc., I only do so rarely, and when it’s actually good; in other words, I’m only going to order a steak at a great steakhouse, and not in American Airlines domestic first class
  • As I get older I increasingly struggle with dairy, so I avoid super creamy vegetarian dishes and ice cream

When you combine all of those factors, I love that Qatar Airways is adding vegan dishes to its menu. I’d never pre-order a vegan meal because special meals generally offer a watered down dining experience, but if I can pick and choose vegan dishes, a majority of what I’d order would probably be from that section of the menu.

Bottom line

While it has long been possible to pre-order vegan special meals, I love that Qatar Airways is now consistently adding vegan dishes to its standard business class menu. This is one of those things that I didn’t know I wanted until it was announced.

Now if only Qatar Airways would add iced coffee or cold brew to its menu, it would offer a pretty perfect business class experience (okay, in reality it already offers a rather perfect experience).

Would anyone else like to see more airlines introduce a range of vegan dishes on the standard menu?

  1. 100% for this. I went mostly vegan for a few months and I’m basically the same as you ben. No pork, chicken… only steak and burgers every now and then. Fish is fine. Also stoped drinking milk and eating yogourt… cheese I can’t give up 🙂 Some vegan dishes are actually super good.

  2. Probably the “ignorant American” in me, but any time I see vegetarian stuff from other parts of the world, I always have that scene from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” flash through my mind: “What do you mean he don’t eat meat…?”
    “He’s a vegetarian…”
    “That’s okay, I make lamb”

  3. Love this! Vegan J food options are often very underwhelming. Vegetarian (which I am) options always seem to come with more dairy than my body can take let alone while being immobile for 15+ hours.

  4. This is awesome! As a vegan, I hope more airlines follow suit and add more and better options in their premium class service.

  5. Ben, I’ve been reading this blog for about 7 years. For the most part I agree with most of the stuff that you say since you tend to use logic. On some subjective matters I may or may not agree with you… but on what basis have you come to the conclusion that “fish don’t have feelings”?

    I should probably add that I couldn’t care less about why you’d rather eat something or not. Don’t mean this in a bad way, but rather that nobody should have the need to explain strangers their food choices. But such a bold statement regarding fish feelings has really struck me lol.


  6. Lucky, just because a fish can’t express their feelings, it doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. Your belief is misguided. Fish have a nervous system and are sentient beings, therefore they do have feelings.

  7. @Peter funnily enough I have that reaction now that I live in the US. Vegetarian food is often boring/bland and seems like an afterthought but when I visit other parts of the world e.g. South Asia and South East Asia, I’m quite happy to eat a lot of vegetarian food!

  8. @kq747, There are plenty of places in the US with great vegetarian options (many from S/SE Asian cuisines), but perhaps not in many of the fly-over states.

  9. Most cuisines developed as largely vegetarian, albeit not vegan. It’s only been in relatively recent times that the psycho-carnivores have emerged; sadly they seem to be completely indifferent to the impact their dietary choices have on the environment; it goes without saying they don’t care about the suffering of animals, many of which are ‘prepared’ and killed in the cruelest way imaginable.
    Foie gras is the most extreme example.
    It won’t be long before the only food available on planes is vegetarian; I look forward to that day….

  10. Glad to see this. Most vegan travel options consist of unhealthy starches (white rice, pasta, potatoes) slathered with a tiny amount of healthy veggies and a strange sauce. Good to see someone finally providing real, healthy food for a change.

  11. I am eating all kind of food (and I am proud of it) and I like to try always new things (and cook then the best recipe at home later).
    If QR want to add some more interesting food, vegan or whatever it’s welcome if interesting.

    But I am NOT interested to be forced to eat any junk the airline want, like what we can see actually with some boxed food that we can see on some airlines as TK. Also or when you fly QR Asia to Europe, you can get 2 flights following each other with only a breakfast choice, sorry but +12h eating breakfast is NOT fun or interesting.

    @Paolo About the impact their dietary choices have on the environment, we can destroy but also clean our planet, so basically I do not agree with you.
    If you are really concerned about the planet as you pretend, don’t fly and stop hypocrisy.

  12. Ben,

    Check out “The Game Changers” on Netflix, if you haven’t yet seen it.

    It may motivate you to make the switch back to veganism. It did for me about a year ago, and I feel fantastic!

  13. @Paolo
    “It’s only been in relatively recent times that the psycho-carnivores have emerged; sadly they seem to be completely indifferent to the impact their dietary choices have on the environment; it goes without saying they don’t care about the suffering of animals, many of which are ‘prepared’ and killed in the cruelest way imaginable.”

    Isn’t it problematic to argue your diet choices are somehow more ethical? Do you know how many small mammals are killed by giant combine harvesters? How many billions of insects are destroyed by overuse of pesticides on crops? I suppose the latter aren’t cute and it’s impossible to anthropomorphise them, unlike a cow with sad eyes.

    Farming monocultures are devastating to biodiversity — there’s more biodiversity in your average bit of the Sahara than in an intensively farmed crop field in western Europe or North America.

    And labelling people whose diet choices are different as “psycho-carnivores” is frankly bizarre. To argue that it’s only in “relatively recent times” that humans have emerged whose diet is predominantly animal is to show a complete ignorance of human diversity. What do you think Inuit peoples have been eating since, well, since they emerged as Inuit? Clue: there ain’t no plants in the Arctic. Or, closer to the equator, check out those crazy Nuer people, whose diet largely consists of milk, blood and meat from their cattle and goats (no 5-a-day there). There are lots of similar examples.

    I’m all in favour of more customer choice with airline food. Ironically, Qatar already has so much menu diversity that I’m often spoiled for choice. But this is a great addition.

  14. Welcome news! Vegan is the future and it’s happening right now. There is a groundswell of interest in stopping the consumption of animal flesh – and for good reason. For the planet, for one’s health, and for the animals, vegan eating is the right choice.

  15. The nice Paul

    While their stupid phrasing and almightiness was completely unnecessary, I don’t think anyone can make a serious argument that a typical meat based diet is equally ethical to a typical vegan diet. You can certainly claim that the difference is small enough not to matter (I’d disagree, but I can see some merits to that statement), but there is no way you could possibly deny it’s more damaging.

    They seem like a bit of a nut job so who knows, but no-one sane makes the argument that Inuit or poor people who genuinely need meat to meet their nutrition requirements should be vegan. The general consensus is to minimise harm as much as possible – in rich Western countries that would be by being vegan.

    Monocultures are also not “devastating” to biodiversity. Within the specific field maybe, but that’s ultimately irrelevant – not every square inch needs to be equally biodiverse. And although you haven’t specifically said it, many people think there would have to be a huge increase to feed a vegan diet. That is not true as vast amounts of this produce is currently fed to cows etc.

    But why stop at insects? How many billions of bacterial cells are we killing every minute? Very few people place as much value on the life of a mosquito as the life of an orangutan, and I highly doubt you’re one of them!

  16. @Callum
    I completely agree with you that it’s possible (and helpful) to have debates about lifestyle adjustments which might lead to a healthier and sustainable planet. Necessary, in fact.

    But I object to claims that a high-meat diet is somehow unethical because “will nobody think of the animals?”! Your point — that every mouthful we consume is stuffed full of living organisms that we are consigning to their deaths — is well made, and I was actually holding it in reserve in case I was attacked. By just existing, a human will be killing billions of creatures. It is unavoidable.

    But setting that to one side, arguing that eating vegan food is more ethical because it saves the planet — when the article is about eating vegan food ON A PLANE — is so mad that I struggle to see where to start dissecting it. And not just on any plane (on a trip taken because of a dire emergency, perhaps) — but in the luxury of BUSINESS CLASS.

    Monocultural fields really are an issue, especially when some people argue that crop-based fuels are a good substitute for, say, Jet-A1. Isn’t the whole Amazon close to a tipping point where it will be reclassified from rain forest to plans?

    In that context, with his accusatory language of “psycho-carnivores, the OP’s lack of self-awareness is startling.

  17. Paul

    Well it’s a good job my argument was not “will nobody think of the animals!?” then isn’t it…

    That’s a tricky claim to object to. Your objection seems to be that insects are killed growing crops so it’s therefore fine to kill “higher”, sentiment animals too. Where that falls apart is that it relies on valuing different animal species equally, which is something I’m sure you’ll really admit you do not do.

    So your claim is that because air travel is damaging, it therefore makes no sense whatsoever to reduce emissions elsewhere? If you sit in a business class seat then there’s no point doing anything whatsoever to protect the environment elsewhere? While you can label the specific person who does that a hypocrite, the actual argument itself is so absurd that I’m not even going to dignify it with a response. You seem vaguely intelligent – I’m sure you can see why.

    No, they really are not an issue… They are an issue when they replace productive habitats like rainforest, but they generally do not. The Amazon rainforest is indeed in danger, I’m glad you bring it up as it’s an area I studied greatly in my Biodiversity master’s degree. The main drivers being cattle production – both grazing land and soy crops grown specifically for said cattle (not to make vegan soy milk, as people attempting to use this as a “gotcha” love to claim). A better argument from you would have been Palm oil production – particularly in SE Asia, though given these things have nothing to do with vegan diets, both are redundant.

    Finally, I’d encourage you to attempt to think rationally on this topic. While it’s great to question literally anything you’re told (far too many people do not), why do you think that every single major environmental organisation on the planet actively supports reducing meat consumption? Do you genuinely believe you possess information that they do not, or that your analytical skills are far superior? If so, I’d love to hear your argument. You can certainly debate the merits of doing something and what degree of impact it really has, but any argument against veganism being better for the planet is akin to climate change skeptics.

  18. I have to say some one of worst vegan meals I’ve had was one of the best first class products … JAL.
    Etihad first did ok, but the best have been in economy on QF and in J on LAN.

  19. It’s great news about Qatar Airways’ new vegan meals! But, Ben, please don’t make life-or-death decisions for animals based on a hunch. While fish may not scream like pigs or cows do, they are intelligent, sensitive beings who feel pain and fear.

    Neurobiologists have long recognized that fish have nervous systems that comprehend and respond to pain. They have neurotransmitters such as endorphins that relieve suffering—and the only reason for their nervous systems to produce these painkillers is to alleviate pain.

    Fish have even been subjected to cruel experiments to prove that they feel pain… in one, rainbow trout had painful acetic acid or bee venom injected into their sensitive lips. They stopped eating, rocked back and forth on the tank floor, and rubbed their lips against the tank walls. Fish who were injected with a harmless saline solution didn’t display this abnormal behavior.

    It’s so easy to leave fish (and all animals) in peace while we enjoy delicious, cruelty-free foods to our hearts’ content. I hope you’ll give it another try, Ben. 🙂

  20. @The nice Paul

    While Paolo may have been a bit extreme in his choice of words, the substance of what he said is not wrong. Humans throughout most of their existence were not primarily meat eaters. Also, to claim that contemporary meat eating is no worse that vegetarianism because vegetable crops require the killing of billions of animals is specious reasoning. Most of the crops we grow go to feed livestock, so a reduction in the consumption of animal products would mean a reduction in the overall killing of animals. Living necessarily means killing other life, but one can reduce the amount of cruelty involved. Carbon output from agriculture dwarfs that of air travel. If anyone claims to care about anthropogenic climate change and still eats meat, he is a hypocrite and should kindly shut the front door. As for Lucky’s reasoning regarding eating meat, it is clearly nonsensical, but it is the rare person who isn’t irrational in his justifications for his life choices. Whether you are eating meat or not, make sure to keep your mask on between bites as per Governor Newsom’s dictates. Obey!

  21. Love that you’re (almost) vegan! The UN says that a global shift toward vegan eating is necessary to combat climate change. I would politely ask you to read a little more about fish intelligence and their ability to feel pain though. After researching, I no longer felt that I could in good conscience eat sea animals, especially after learning about how many dolphins, turtles, whales, and other species are killed as “bycatch.”

  22. @Callum
    Your wonderful Freudian slip has blown the gaff:
    “Your objection seems to be that insects are killed growing crops so it’s therefore fine to kill “higher”, sentiment animals too.”
    Exactly: sentiment (even though I’m sure you intended to write sentient).

    My objection is not to shifting lifestyles to ones which are less harmful, and I’m sure many of us seek to do that (and that’s what I wrote in my first comment). But I object to people bleating on about how it’s somehow ethically superior to decide to be vegetarian because it involves killing one sort of sad-eyed animal rather than another. There is evidence that squid are as emotionally intelligent as higher mammals (in the UK you need a licence to vivisect them for scientific purposes, just like monkeys), yet most of those pescatarians seem to turn a blind eye to their suffering…

    Life for some inevitably involves death for others. The only way to truly minimise our impact is to kill ourselves.

    I’d change your example to read:
    “If anyone claims to care about anthropogenic climate change and still has children, they are hypocrites”.

    Creating even more humans, especially in consumption-intensive western societies, is pretty much the single worst thing anyone can do. Once you’ve had kids, any other lifestyle changes will be far less significant.

    But I still welcome the choice of vegan meals on Qatar, and look forward to trying them… 🙂

  23. Exciting! I went vegan 27 years ago, when I realized that all animals, including fish and other sea animals, have feelings and suffer when killed. I recommend Gardein’s faux fish fillets, crabless crab cakes, and there are many tasty vegan tuna options available now. I like to fly on compassionate airlines that realize that all beings deserve kindness and there’s no excuse for eating them!

  24. Fish are not swimming vegetables. Research on fish sentience has revealed that fish have excellent long-term memories, are savvy social learners, develop cultural traditions, use tools, and feel pain. Don’t eat them.

  25. I am all for such options, although I am a non-vegetarian.

    There are so many people with dietary restrictions due to health, as well. Plus, let people choose what they want to eat – they paid for the flights, it’s their money what they want to spend on.

  26. Callum, well said, Damn Right!

    Vertical farms, greenpeace, the vegan diet, food impossible and the crappy beef substitute. People in china and the korean peninsula eat dog from dog farms and all kinds of animals, you guys should do something about it, I remember a few years ago in the streets of Bali, the German tourists we’re eating grilled meat skewers, without knowing was dog meat, as you know in Asia the use different sauces like oyster sauce, fish sauce, teriyaki, mirin, soy sauce among many others, so you don’t really taste the meat you are eating in your dish. you taste the strong flavors of the sauce and spices.. So be careful out there! In the western world dogs are pets, lovely animals, not food. The nice Paul and all of you please FOLLOW UP!!

  27. Let’s be realistic guys…any attempt to wellness via food is neutralized by wearing a mask that exudes microscopic plastic fibres, the co2 you exhale and the chemical induced sterile environment of the post paranoid cabin that you inhale. I’d opt for eating an organic carrot from the floor in a non-paranoid just normal Qatar gulfstream private jet….! Stacking up the bitcoins….

  28. Great to have the option. Something I’m noticing as a trend in some really great restaurants, I’ve been to in recent years, eg. Yotam Ottolenghi’s Nopi and Ben Shewry’s Attica, is that the vegetable dishes are often more interesting, creative and tastier than the meat ones. Making them the stars of the meal. I love to eat meat and fish but this has been a revelation, happy to eat less meat when the alternatives as so good.

    I remember not so long ago, when my step mother was suffering from cancer and couldn’t it much meat she would bemoan that the vegetarian options are restaurants were so dull, often mushroom risotto. Things have changed a lot. It’s great to have good options.

  29. The funny thing is that Qatari people make fun of westerns and vegans all the time , they look down on such a diet ! it would be so interesting to see their reaction on this

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