This month, Delta Airlines will add plant-based meat to its menu for the first time. On select flights of 900 miles or more, Delta One (Business Class) and First Class passengers will have access to multiple dishes. Nationally, Delta is adding two new vegetarian options: Impossible Burger (which features the plant-based patty rubbed with green chili spices and topped with caramelized onion chutney and Manchego cheese served on a brioche roll) ; and Hot Plate of Seasonal Vegetables (made with fresh broccolini, roasted button mushrooms, grilled heirloom carrots, grilled red onions, and roasted cherry tomatoes, served with herb-scented Israeli couscous and lemon-herb butter not vegan).
For passengers departing from the New York area (from both JFK and LaGuardia airports), Delta offers Impossible Meatballs which are served in pomodoro sauce with orzo risotto, cream of pesto , spinach and roasted tomatoes – a vegetarian dish offered in partnership with Union Evenements Carrés.
Across the country, passengers departing from Seattle can order Pan-Seared Cauliflower Cakes made with riced cauliflower, rapini and dairy-based Parmesan cheese served with pesto orzo. creamy, roasted tomatoes and roasted hazelnuts. Delta flights from San Francisco will offer a unique vegetarian option: meatless lamb meatballs made by local startup Black Sheep Foods in partnership with local mini-chain Souvla. The Greek-inspired dish is served with spinach rice and dairy-based feta cheese.
VegNews contacted Delta to find out if any of these in-flight vegetarian options can be ordered vegan.
Delta: plant-based meat is a sustainable option
Delta’s menu update also serves a sustainability purpose, given the dramatically reduced carbon footprint associated with plant-based meat compared to its animal counterpart. While animal-based food production is responsible for up to 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Impossible’s plant-based alternatives require 75% less land, 85% less water less and 90% less greenhouse gas emissions to produce.
Black sheep lamb is also much more environmentally friendly and uses 98% less land, produces 95% fewer carbon emissions and consumes half the water of commercially raised lamb.
“Not only are plant-based meats like Impossible Burger delicious to eat, they’re also often better for the environment, using far less land and water to produce them,” Kristen Manion Taylor, Vice President principal of in-flight service at Delta, said in a statement. “These new options are part of Delta’s broader mission to promote wellness-focused travel.”
In recent years, Delta’s competitors have begun to embrace plant-based menu options, and not just for first-class passengers. In 2018, Hawaiian Airlines added vegan meals, such as whole-wheat pasta with sautéed mushrooms, leek ratatouille with tomato sauce, and grilled vegetables, to the main cabin of almost all international flights.
In 2019, Middle Eastern airline United Emirates reported a 40% increase in requests for vegan meals in January, when many passengers participate in Veganuary. This demand led the airline to serve 20,000 vegan meals that month, which included dishes such as mushroom ravioli; Vegetable tagine served with couscous; and a sweet potato, lentil and spinach stew served with steamed brown rice; as well as dessert options.
Food for black sheep
Vegan lamb takes its wings
In addition to appearing on Delta’s in-flight menu, Black Sheep Foods’ vegan lamb is making its way to restaurants across the San Francisco Bay Area after debuting on the Greek chain’s menu last year. Souvla. The startup spent two years perfecting its meatless lamb using patent-pending flavor compounds and ingredients like textured pea protein, coconut oil and cocoa butter, resulting in a product that mimics the flavor and texture of its animal counterpart, without the heavy environmental footprint.
While other companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have developed plant-based alternatives to commonly consumed meats such as beef and pork, Black Sheep Foods seeks to provide alternatives to meats considered wild or heritage. These meats are often not accessible to most consumers due to their higher prices, which Black Sheep Foods seeks to change with its plant-based versions. Earlier this year, the startup secured $5.2 million in seed funding to advance the democratization of game meats with plant-based alternatives.
For more on plant-based meat, read:
Why the best new vegan meat products will come from Korea
Plant-based meat will be cheaper than animal meat sooner than you think
Brazilian start-up Future Farm brings its vegan meat to the United States