Meat-free burgers, bolognese, and schnitzels could be on the menu at Qantas lounges and onboard flights by the end of this year, with the airline developing a range of dishes that look, smell, and taste like the real thing.
“We’re doing a lot of menu planning for the future in the next month, and I think in the next six months we’re hoping to launch some things” Qantas chef Neil Perry tells Executive Traveller.
“We’ll have a complete plant-based dish on each of the menus and we’ve also started looking at plant-based meats like Beyond, Impossible and V2, which is an Australian product.”
Impossible Foods, a US startup, is a hero in the booming ‘fake meat’ industry. Air New Zealand, American Airlines – as a vegan alternative to its Flagship Lounge Burger – and Delta Air Lines have already introduced the Impossible Burger.
Impossible Meatball Bowls on domestic first class flights and Impossible Sausage patties in Polaris business class lounges are now available on United Airlines.
“And we even do meals at home with V2 at the moment… out of our five family meals a week, we’ll have at least two that don’t have a meat or fish protein base,” Perry says of his Margaret Restaurant in Sydney’s Double Bay, which has partnered with home-grown V2 Food to add more plant-based items to a fine dining menu already strong on sustainability.
V2, backed by Australia’s CSIRO, has also made inroads into the mainstream, with Hungry Jack’s flame-grilled Rebel Whopper burger making its way onto the shelves of Woolworths and Coles supermarkets (alongside competitors Impossible and Beyond Meat).
“We’ll decide which company to go with and how that will affect the menus starting next year,” Perry says.
Carnivores, however, need not worry: this does not spell the end of the business class steak sandwich or the economy option of ‘chicken or beef.’
“I don’t think we’ll ever give up meat, and I don’t think we should.” In my opinion, it’s all about balance and changing people’s perceptions of how much meat they need to consume.”
“Getting people to eat more plant-based meats and realising how delicious they are, and that they kind of (satisfy) that meat craving is a way to get that balance… we can give people the pleasure and satisfaction of eating a meat meal,” Perry says.
Perry’s artificial meat menus will complement the airline’s November 2021 introduction of plant-based meals across all cabins, reflecting a growing trend towards healthier lifestyles – especially on long international flights where you’re sitting for hours on end.
It’s certainly good news for the legions of vegans and vegetarians who frequently get the short end of the stick when it comes to in-flight meals.
However, many meat eaters are simply becoming more aware and, dare we say, mindful of their diet, including the adoption of’meat-free Monday’ (allegedly created by Paul McCartney in 2009) to help balance out the remaining six days of the week.
Visitors to Qantas airport lounges may be the first to try the airline’s fake meat menu because “we have an opportunity in lounge to be a bit more nimble and bring things in faster (than on flights),” Perry says.
“Domestic travel is faster than international travel, and lounges are faster than both.”