lizabelle: Vegan (Vegan)
I've just returned from the UK (where I celebrated a fantastic Christmas and New Year with many much-missed friends and family), and was once again astounded by the failure of the airline to provide me with food in line with my prebooked request.

Before I go into details, let me say that although I'm talking here about Etihad, I have had similar experiences with Emirates, British Airways, Qantas and Virgin over the past few years. Never once have I travelled between the UK and Australia without being served something that contravened my request for a vegan meal, although this is almost invariably offered as an option.

So yes, this time we flew with Etihad. As always, I was careful to request a special meal with my booking, in this case the "VGML - VEGETARIAN MEAL". Etihad states that this option Does not contain any meat, fish or animal by-products e.g. animal fat in biscuits etc.

My experiences eating Etihad's 'vegan' food, cut for length )

On the way home, I didn't say anything because by this time I was convinced I must have somehow made a mistake and the VGML meal (I carefully checked the label each time I was handed a meal tray) wasn't intended to be vegan. On the way out, I did ask the flight attendants a couple of times about whether something was vegan or whether they had any soy creamer (I was given some once, so surely they had more somewhere, right?), and they were very nice, but clueless. They seemed to have no idea what the VGML description signified or what a vegan meal involved.

All of this was annoying and frustrating, but ultimately not fatal. But what about people with food allergies? If an attendant makes a mistake and hands me some yoghurt (and I'm stupid enough to eat it, which I wasn't), then there's no real harm done. If they do the same to someone with a nut or dairy allergy, the results could be very different.

Conclusion: airlines are increasingly offering a range of special meal options for people with a variety of dietary requirements based on health, ethics and lifestyle choices. If they are going to do this efficiently, they need to do their research and train their staff properly, so that passengers can feel assured that they are actually being fed in accordance with their requirements.

I will be contacting Etihad to let them know how disappointed I was with their service in this respect. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what else I could do to counteract this widespread problem?

ETA May 2012: This post has been hit by spammers, so I am now disabling comments. If you have anything to say to me about the post, please feel free to do so using the contact info listed in my user info.
lizabelle: (Sparkly flowers)
1. This is the first in a series of five fascinating posts about one of my favourite books, David Mitchell's Cloudstreet Cloud Atlas*. All the posts are up now, and I urge anyone who's read the book to check them out.

1b. I am getting increasingly impatient for David Mitchell's new book.

2. Doctor Who! The eleventh doctor debuted on Saturday, and wasn't he lovely? I felt all my adoration for early Ten (pre-angst) being rekindled, although I admit that I spent most of the episode thinking thinky thoughts like "Hi, Eleven! Hi, Amy! You're really cool!" V. much looking forward to the rest of this series.

3. I am volunteering for the Sydney Writers' Festival this year - at least, I've volunteered my services, so will be volunteering if all goes to plan. The programme comes out this weekend, and I can't wait to see who this year's guests are.

4.Vegaroo is a new website set up by a friend of mine over here to act as a resource/hub for vegans in Australia. So far, there are restaurant reviews, events, a "get involved" section (this is my favourite part), and a blog that's just getting off the ground, but which already has some excellent posts up (this post, in particular, spawned an interesting discussion about the whys and wheretofores of using the word "vegan" in marketing). They need contributors, particularly from parts of Australia that aren't Sydney, if you're that way inclined.

5. Files are DONE! And so am I. G'night, all.

*Q: When do you know you've been in Australia too long? When any book with "cloud" in the title automatically becomes Cloudstreet.
lizabelle: Vegan (Vegan)
I've been having FUN eating out recently, so here's a run-down of what I've been up to.

First of all, I met up with some other local vegans and vegetarians at a pub in the city: Yulli's (which doesn't seem to have a website, but there are a couple of reviews here and here) was a cool, cosy place offering an all-vegetarian menu and several vegan options. I went for the vegan version of the massaman pie, which was delicious and sparked a discussion of other sources of vegan pies. The pie was definitely the most popular dish of the night, with half of us going for either the veggie or vegan version. I was also tempted by the tofu with papaya salad, but couldn't resist the pie in the end.

It was a lovely night, and so relaxing to be among people with similar mindsets. I'm looking forward to the next meetup.

On Saturday, I scooted across to Newtown for a vegan breakfast at Naked Espresso, a vegan brekkie place that shares premises with Basil Pizza. Newtown is on the other side of the city from Manly, so by the time I got there it was after midday and I was worried that they'd stop serving. After I sprinted along King St, I think the owner was a bit disturbed by my incoherent gasps of "food - are you still doing food?" But he kindly sat me down at a table and let me catch my breath.

I'd obviously just missed a rush, so I had plenty of time to look around while waiting for my food. I noticed two things: 1) the place was obviously doing very well, and tables were never empty for long; and 2) most of the patrons looked disgustingly healthy. After checking myself in the mirror, I decided that I looked pretty healthy, too. Must be all those green vegetables!

As well as sprinting across Newtown, I'd also been for a run that morning, so decided I could justify the big breakfast. It was fantastic! One of my major complaints about Australian veggie food is the lack of decent fake meats; I don't eat that sort of thing very often, but when I do I have high expectations, and the stuff that's generally available in Australia is pretty disgusting. The big breakfast came with two soy sausages (there's a photo of them in this blog post - yeah, I know the sausage looks pretty disgusting, but so are meat sausages when you think about what's in them), and they were delicious. Yay! I would've asked the staff where they got them, but I was still a bit flustered and in a hurry, so I'll have to find out next time. There will most definitely be a next time.

Next on the agenda was the Sydney Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, which had entirely sold out by the time I got there. :( That was great news for the organisers and the charity that it was in aid of, though, so I can't be too sorry. I shall just hope they do it again soon. One of the organisers has a write-up here, with lots of fantastic pictures of all the goodies.

Finally, I met up with some friends at The Bentley on Saturday night. I'd already emailed them and been promised some vegan food, but I've been promised that by other restaurants and have ended up with a plateful of shredded vegetables and nothing else, so my expectations weren't high. Nevertheless, the food I got at Bentley was amazing. As a group, we went for tapas, so I picked my own dishes while my friends shared various others. I got the artichokes off the regular tapas menu (delicious - I love artichokes anyway, but these were something special), a polenta tapas, and black sesame and pea fondant with snow peas, both of which were adapted from the main menu. The black sesame was one of the highlights of the night - even the omnivores admired it, and it tasted even better than it looked. I also ordered some braised red cabbage, and even that was delicious.

I was also offered a vegan dessert, but decided I didn't have room, so I made do with a glass of dessert wine.

The Bentley isn't cheap, but we were very well looked after, the staff were friendly and informative, and I particularly appreciated their unobtrusive but helpful attention to my dietary requests. I'll definitely be going there again when I have something to celebrate.


lizabelle: (Default)

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