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Travel Tip Tuesday: Deciphering Your Airline’s Special Meals

(Phone from here)

(Photo from here)

Ever since I got back from my world trip, I’ve been trying to eat healthier and after reading some convincing books on the subject, Mr. T and I have somewhat given up meat.  Well, he’s given it up (for which I applaud him).  I occasionally cheat (Hey, you try being pregnant and having cravings for bacon! Yea, not so easy, huh?).  Anyway, when we went to Dubai, we ordered an “Asian Vegetarian” special meal assuming we’d get some nice chinese entree.  Instead, we got curry after curry after curry.  It was to the point where I told Mr. T, “OMG if they give me one more curry dish, I’m going to puke!”  Seriously, who eats curry for breakfast?!  Apparently the people who order “asian vegetarian” meals on Turkish Air do.

Anyway, I stumbled across this description of the various special meals airlines offer from Happycow.net the other day and thought that if I had read this earlier, I might have picked a different special meal (I mean, the Vegetarian Lacto-Ovo option would at least let me have eggs for breakfast, right?!).  Here it is for your reference:

A summary of Airline Meal Descriptive terms*:

Vegetarian Meal (VGML) – Also known as Vegan, this meal is totally free of any animal products or by-products such as eggs or dairy products. It contains one or more of these ingredients: all types of vegetables and fresh fruit. It does NOT contain any type of meat, fish, or animal products or by-products.

Vegetarian Lacto-Ovo Meal (VLML) – This is a Vegetarian Meal that may also contain eggs and dairy products. It contains one or more of these ingredients: vegetables, fresh fruit, eggs, dairy products, and pulses. It does NOT contain any type of fish or meat.

Vegetarian Oriental Meal (VOML) – This is a Vegetarian Meal (VGML) [presumably therefore vegan] that is also prepared Chinese or Oriental-style.

Asian Vegetarian Meal (AVML) – This meal is available for vegetarian passengers. It is usually aromatic and spicy, and incorporates flavors from the Indian sub-continent. It contains one or more of these ingredients: all types of vegetables, fresh fruit and milk products. It does NOT contain any type of meat, fish or eggs.

Vegetarian Jain Meal (VJML) – This meal is for members of the Jain community who are pure vegetarians. It is prepared with a selection of Indian condiments. It contains one or more of these ingredients: fresh fruit and stem vegetables that grow above the ground. It does NOT contain: animal products and by-products, and any root vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, etc.

Raw Vegetable Meal (RVML) – This meal consists exclusively of raw vegetables and salads.

Fruit Platter (FPML) – This meal may be ordered for dietary reasons. It may also be ordered by members of certain communities who eat only fruit while fasting. It contains one or more of these ingredients: seasonal fresh fruit.

Hindu Meal (HNML) – This meal is available for members of the Hindu community who are not strictly vegetarian and eat meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. It may contain one or more of these ingredients: lamb, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, and dairy products. It does NOT contain beef.

*these terms may be used differently by various airlines so please confirm for yourself when reserving a meal

(For their original post, which also includes a sampling of the types of meals offered by major airline, click here.)

As a note, not all airlines will offer all these special meals, but at least you’ll have a reference to go off of if you see these terms.  It is worth reiterating that you should double check with the airline on what exactly that “special meal” means lest you want to be caught with entree-envy at what everyone else is eating…

Help me keep this series going!  If you have any travel tips, please email me at diana@justwanderlustblog.com and your tip may end up in a future post!

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