11 September 2012

Airplane Food (aka. "the camino starts here!")

En route to starting the Camino, both of us are visiting some friends in other parts of Europe. So, I thought I'd start by writing about my experience with the food on my airplane ride from the Chicago to Heathrow. I flew American Airlines, which was overall a good experience. I'd give the ride itself an A- (my headphone jack didn't work so I couldn't watch the movies... womp womp) and the food will get a B-.

When we purchased our tickets, there wasn't a way to reserve a special meal, so a week before my flight I called the customer service hotline, and they were able to reserve a vegetarian meal for me. Conveniently, American Airlines lists their "special meal" options online, including a sample menu. Not-so-conveniently, they do not offer a completely vegan meal.  My gluten intolerance adds another complication, but I figured the vegetarian option was better than nothing. 

I came prepared with extra snacks in case my meals weren't filling enough. I brought a little bag of almonds and pistachios, 2 Pure bars, and some powdered protein drink mix. I had an early flight, so my first breakfast was a banana and a coffee at the airport... with a side of adrenaline because I was so excited for the journey! 

Breakfast on the plane was: 
Banana french toast
Bowl of fruit
bottled water
Hot tea
(Jam, cream cheese and butter on the side)

Dinner on the plane was: 
Penne pasta with red pepper-olive-cheesy sauce (didn't eat), with one half of a cherry tomato
One bread roll with a side of butter
2 slices of honeydew melon
Ginger ale

I was desperately hungry, so I did something stupid and I ate the bagel and the roll! Perfectly vegan-friendly, but not gluten-free! :(  I felt ill later on, but honestly I hadn't packed enough food to sustain myself otherwise. Ooops. 

Even still, I wasn't super impressed with the portions of the vegetarian meals in comparison with what my fellow passengers received. They seemed to have gotten lots of snacks for the 5 hours in between meals that I didn't receive. And of course meat and eggs are more filling than fruit and bread. But oh well.

So, I wish I had brought more food! The hardest lesson to learn as a traveling gluten-free vegan is that I kinda have to look out for myself.

It's always good to check with airlines (talk to a person to get the most accurate info), check airports beforehand to see what the restaurant options are, and pack accordingly.  Be careful about abiding by the carry-on "liquids" guidelines, as well as any laws about traveling internationally with fresh fruits or veggies (usually a no-no). My hotel offered a "full breakfast," but it wasn't free and I am sure it wouldn't have been worth paying £9.50 for a bowl of fruit and maybe oats, so I had to consider that as well. (Luckily I did receive complimentary in-room tea!)

London blew my mind with vegan & gluten-free options, but that's another story!


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