Vegan meal on Etihad Airways business class is beautiful

by Anshul
1 comment
a tray with food on it

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The benefits of travelling with a vegan partner are that I can explore the best of both worlds and experience the plant-based options served onboard. Over the years, I have noticed significant improvements in the plant-based offerings on inflight menus and the VGML (IATA code) special-meal option, a vegetarian meal suitable for passengers who do not consume animal by-products and dairy. We flew on Etihad Business Class from Chicago to Melbourne via Abu Dhabi on our trip to Australia. So how was the vegan meal on Etihad Airlines?

I had pre-ordered the VGML special meal for both legs of our trip. Depending on airlines, airports, or catering companies to load the correct options, special meals can be hit or miss (in quality and availability). Happy to confirm that Etihad lived up to its name, did a stellar job of offering the requested meals, and plated them beautifully in the luxurious Armani/Casa cutlery and glassware. Etihad Airways and Armani/Casa announced a partnership late last year, which has now rolled out across the airline’s network.

Vegan Meal on Etihad Airways – Chicago to Abu Dhabi

The first course of the VGML meal was a buckwheat and lentil salad, served with bread and vegan butter. The Arabic Mezze was requested as an add-on from the standard menu since all items on the platter (minus the cheese pastry – Fatayer) were vegan-friendly. Hummus, Tabbouleh, and stuffed grapevine leaves were excellent! The food overall was of high quality, fresh, and very satisfying.

Arabic Mezze on Etihad

ORD – AUH: Start of Vegan meal on Etihad

For the main course, the VGML meal consisted of a plant-based rendition of the Indian Dal Makhani (slow-cooked whole black lentils and red kidney beans, typically made with butter and cream) – and roasted cauliflower, served over basmati rice. I was not a big fan of the cauliflower, but the lentil stew over rice was hearty and fulfilling.

a plate of food on a tray

VGML Main course – Vegan Dal Makhani with rice

Etihad served a beautiful fruit plate with grapes, kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, and orange – all fresh and refreshing for dessert. The crew confirmed that the baklava on the main menu did not use any honey, so it was consumed merrily 🙂

Vegan meal on Etihad

VGML dessert – fruit plate


food on a black plate

Snack menu – Baklava (vegan friendly)

Vegan Meal on Etihad Airways – Abu Dhabi to Melbourne

For our second leg in Etihad business class, the VGML meal service started with the traditional Arabic mezze again. This time, the entire mezze was vegan-friendly, with Muhammara (roasted red pepper and walnuts) being the standout item on the platter.

Vegan meal on Etihad

AUH – MEL: Vegan Arabic Mezze

The main course was a simple basil pesto pasta, which was fantastic. The pasta was Al dente, and the sauce was fragrant and flavorful. The dessert, once again, was a fruit plate served alongside the main course.

Vegan meal on Etihad

Main Course – Basil pesto pasta

Take Away – Vegan meal on Etihad Airways

Etihad offers an extensive array of special meals to suit the needs of all passengers. The VGML meal in the business-class cabin was beautiful in taste and presentation. There is room for improvement in the dessert department, however. With such lavish offerings for two courses, a fruit bowl for dessert seems a cop-out. That said, the quality vegan meal on Etihad, and the presentation of the meal, were exponentially better than any other airline we have tried thus far—an excellent choice for vegan travellers.

Photo Credit: PK 🙂

1 comment

On Screen Solution May 27, 2024 - 8:33 am

It’s wonderful to see such beautifully presented vegan meals in Etihad’s business class, showcasing both elegance and mindful dining.


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