If you avoided my 2013-word post on the past year, let me sincerely wish you a happy new year 2014!
You may or may not know that I spent my New Year’s Eve on a long-haul flight to Australia, and that I get a serious attack of the munchies during any form of travel. I don’t know why, but I get consumed with this need to snack. Sometimes it’s for a nibble, sometimes it’s for more substantial food, sometimes it’s for sweetness, sometimes it’s for savoury. There is no pattern to it, no telling how or when it is going to strike, but the only thing I know for certain is that it will happen.
I could give in totally, arm myself with a multitude of snacks and hope that I have what I am in the mood for when the craving strikes. Unfortunately, I usually crave whatever I know I have in my bag, and I end up eating everything
at once. Which is great at the time, but I just feel rubbish afterwards, both physically and pyschologically. I can deal with that when I’ve been training hard, eating well, working steadily, and just need a break, but I have just spent the last month thoroughly enjoying the festive season and frankly, just wanted a little bit of normality.
When I left France the day before flying to Australia from London (follow?), I had to empty the fridge of its perishables including three carrots. Ideal! They were chopped and bundled into a zip-lock bag; the ideal combination of crunchy, slightly sweet, not cloying, slightly hydrating, dainty, and with no risk of resulting in crumbs of melting chocolate being sat on.
If you’ve been around for a little while, you’ll recognise these guys. First discovered in relation to my last trip to Australia, and frequent visitors to outgoing UK Vegan Food Swap boxes, they are definitely a favourite travelling snack. Each bag is a little different, and this one was full of chewy, sweet, almost caramelised pear slices.
I also had a bag of apple chips from a supermarket in Luxembourg which Ben and I snacked on throughout. I don’t know how they make them so good, they are 100% apple with no added preservatives and no fancy dehydration methods, just plain old supermarket brand apple chips with no internet link. They were perfect for a post-meal hit of sweetness.
Despite doing a fair amount of snacking before even embarking on the 27+ hour journey, I couldn’t ignore my hankering for something more substantial. Luckily at the last minute before leaving the house I had remembered the Pulsin Vanilla Choc Chip protein snack bar I had received in December‘s UK Vegan Food Swap. I ate it before we’d even taken off, and while it was a bit pasty and floury it oddly hit the spot.
Now for the “real” food. On the first leg of the flight, from London to Dubai, there was no option of a vegan meal but there was a fruit platter, so we chose that. To be honest, it’s really nice just having a variety of fresh fruit on at least a part of a long-haul flight, and this fruit was surprisingly good. I would definitely recommend it! In the middle, I also got the box of snacks from the standard menu; the cheese, obviously, wasn’t vegan but the crackers, foccacia slices, and chili dip were all vegan.
We had a 7-hour stopover at Dubai, which earned us a free meal voucher (complimentary to all passengers with a 4-hour layover or more). Not that we were made aware of this at any point during our booking or check-in process – had we not had an issue with our seating which caused us to harass as many Emirates staff members as we could find at 2am, we never would have stumbled across the desk issuing them.
The places where you can redeem your voucher are, obviously, limited. McDonalds are obviously on the list, as was a seafood restaurant, a buffet restaurant, an Indian and a Thai fast-food outlet, and a few sandwich places including Le Pain Quotidien. We made the most of our time to scour the entire airport in order to examine all of our options and walk as much as possible, and eventually, predictably, ended up at Pain Quotidien where your voucher gets you a sandwich, a scone or brownie, and a drink.
This roasted eggplant and spicy hummus sandwich with tomato, rocket, and pesto sauce is vegan and so delicious. The bread was great, fresh and crusty, and the fillings were generous and flavourful. I couldn’t have asked for anything better after 7 hours of unsubstantial snacks, little sleep, and an hour of walking around the one of the world’s most soulless airports at 4am. I kept talking about this sandwich until well into our next flight.
Another outlet covered by the voucher is Così, an unexciting sandwich-salad-pizza place who did offer a hummus and salad sandwich on the voucher deal, and Taste of India and Thai Express both offered set menus for voucher-holders; Taste of India’s main included paneer and I don’t know if that can be replaced by additional chana masala, and I have no idea about Thai Express. Frankly, I wouldn’t consider going anywhere other than Pain Quotidien, which is also a little quieter with a less cafeteria-like setting.
On the Dubai-Sydney leg of the flight, I got the exact same meals I had had back in April. For lunch, an unexpectedly tasty ravioli dish in tomato sauce, a vine leaf with hummus and a decorative bit of salad, and some citrus fruit. I ended up eating Ben’s hummus&co and his fruit. This is why I don’t need extra snacks when I travel!
For breakfast, I had what I think was supposed to be a hash brown, with spinach, mushrooms, and a tomato – again, all actually really tasty – and a fruit salad. All with a side of heavy turbulence hence no photos – but it’s the same as I posted here in the second-last picture. And again, I ate most of Ben’s too.
Having landed almost 16 hours ago, I can confirm that this is the best I have felt after a long-haul flight. I don’t feel bloated, or crampy, or gassy, or just gross from eating too much sugar. I think my usual regime of as-much-water-as-I-can-acquire plus electrolytes plus carrots and fruit for snacks instead of chocolate and cereal bars kept me a lot better hydrated and topped up vitamins and minerals to keep me feeling fresh, and avoiding the bread rolls kept my digestive system happy.
I’d love to hear other people’s experiences on flights, vegan or not – what are your tricks to stay healthy and sane?