Vegetarian Food Review: American Economy 787-8 ORD to PEK

Airline: American Airlines

Flight: 187

Route: ORD - PEK

Aircraft: Boeing 787-8

Class: Economy

From start to finish, the flight attendant on our aisle was quite good. He had no problem joking around, a slightly dry sense of humor like my own, so I appreciated it. Service is certainly made better by a good crew, and this crew did not disappoint.

Food was another story though. When I experience the vegetarian meals out of Philadelphia, it has been historically bad, and Chicago managed to one up Philadelphia on this occasion. There is one thing that is very important when preparing a vegetarian meal, remembering that his too includes vegan, so don’t put milk in things!

As is the normal case for economy class meals, everything is shoved down in front of you in one single go, a case of needing to serve hundreds of people with a limited cabin crew in a short period of time. This is fine, comes with the territory of economy class, though often leaves me trying to find room to move trash and items around to find a place to get a utensil in to my food.

We started shortly after taking off with the dinner service. The meal started off with a drink, as has been the case recently, I went with my favorite sparkling water, I like this because my previous go to was cranberry juice, which has become so full of sugar that I actually feel terrible after drinking it during a flight. The drink was accompanied by a small bag of pretzels, yes they have in fact returned to the cabin for American Airlines economy, snacks are back.

After this, the main meal was delivered to me as the flight attendants made their way to the front of the cabin. The meal consisted of a salad, which is very common for economy meals. A piece of bread, and some balsamic dressing. The main course was called a 3 pepper bean medley. Fancy sounding name for the main, too bad the name was about the only creative thing about the meal.

First off, I opened all of the containers and immediately was greeted by cheese on the main course. A quick facepalm later, I read the dressing ingredients and saw milk. At this rate facepalming was going to give me brain damage. This was a properly labeled VGML meal, so it is in fact supposed to be both vegetarian and vegan according to American Airlines guidelines, and this is common across the industry. VGML meals are supposed to be both vegetarian and vegan. So right off the bat, Chicago had completely missed the mark, wildly. This give little confidence in meal preparation services, and make me question what other ingredients are being used that either aren’t labeled, or immediately obvious.

Vegetarian/Vegan Economy Meal

Vegetarian/Vegan Economy Meal

After moving on from the massive blunder of not evening making a proper special meal, I dug into my meal. The bread was terrible, gritty, and mildly bitter. Not a pleasant piece of bread. Next up was the salad, with the dressing it was decent, hard to screw up leaves and dressing. Mixing up the main course, the 3 peppers were not obvious, I saw yellow peppers, not other kinds were obvious. The dish was mildly spicy and may have had a spicy pepper in it as another pepper. The beans were chickpeas and were well cooked. Really the sauce wasn't very pleasant, and I would  ever want this as a meal if I had the option.

Last was the classic dessert course, which is always honeydew melon for a vegetarian meal, would be nice to see this mixed up a bit. There are desserts that are vegan, while I like fruit, it would be nice to see some effort here. Also, the fruit was frozen, a bit of a thaw before placing it on board would have been great.

After that everyone settled in for a long flight. Somewhere over the north pole though,  everyone was woken up for a snack service. This was a small meal mid flight, though I found the timing odd as it was 1am Chicago time, the way things were run basically woke everyone up to serve a snack, might have been better to offer a quiet option of a snack and let other sleep if so desired.

The snack consisted of an apple and a wrap. Not hard get the apple right, so of course a good piece of fruit is always welcome. As for the wrap, it seemed to be made of rice and some other difficult to discern ingredients. Inside the wrap was a sauce/dressing of sorts, it was rather sweet but not terrible. Not exactly something I would order, but halfway good for an in flight economy meal.

A few more hours in the air and we were close to landing in Beijing. The last meal was considered a pre-landing snack. This consisted of more of the crappy bread they gave at the beginning of the flight, along with pasta, and some more damn honeydew melon. At this point I'm not sure I ever want to see honeydew melon again in my life, I get it so often on airplanes. The weird thing about the fruit is that the standard meal included a slice of melon, orange, and strawberry. So why couldn’t a similar fruit plate be included for the vegetarian meal?

The main was some kind of small pasta with a sauce that tasted like nothing. There were peppers in the pasta which is about the only flavor you received. Really this was probably the worst meal of the flight.

Soon after this we landed and disembarking into China. Overall, the flood was a pretty big flop here.