Passengers traveling on some Japan Airlines flights between 1st March and 31st May will find a new option on the in-flight menu. The airline has confirmed it will be serving plant-based burgers from Beyond Meat on three of its services to America.
Veganuary may be over but Japan Airlines passengers have no reason to fear. The airline has confirmed that for three months it will offer a plant-based burger on its menu.
The flights in question are Flight JL061 from Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita, Flight JL015 from Los Angeles to Tokyo Haneda and Flight JL001 from San Francisco to Tokyo Haneda. However, the burger will only be available to first-class passengers.
So, if you’re heading to the west coast of America, keep an eye out for the new menu. Beyond Meat began in 2008. It offers food products that are designed to replicate meat products. They now operate in more than 50 countries around the world and, as of March, in the skies.
Commitment to sustainability
While several airlines have offered vegan or vegetarian options before, it has widely been recognized as a reflection of the growing interest in meat-free lifestyles in general. However, Japan Airlines has stated that its decision to offer the plant-based burger is due to sustainability issues, rather than changing taste buds.
In a statement on its website, the airline said “a Beyond Burger uses significantly less water, land, energy, and generates fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions than a standard 80/20 beef burger. Through this implementation, JAL aims to contribute to realizing a sustainable society”.
Animal products are criticized as having high carbon footprints to produce, especially beef products. The aviation industry is facing the growing issue of flight-shaming and looking to replace out-dated, inefficient aircraft with newer, cleaner technologies. Japan Airlines’ decision to offer a meat-free burger is a reflection of the changing attitude.
But is it enough? The airline is only offering the burger on three flights over three months, and only to first-class passengers. It comes across more as a publicity stunt to highlight the airline’s sustainable development goals than a long-term sustainable action. Having said that, if this test is successful, perhaps we could see the burger return on a more permanent basis.
Other airlines menu options
Japan Airlines is not the first, nor will it be the last to use its menu as a publicity stunt. In January, Emirates offered a vegan option on its menu for business and first-class passengers on flights from Dubai to the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Addis Ababa. It proved so popular that it also offered it to economy passengers on the flight to Addis Ababa.
While this was not implemented due to sustainability issues but rather due to the growing interest in plant-based meals, there is a market for it. Emirates commented that last year it served almost 350,000 vegan meals inflight. These can be pre-booked.
Perhaps if the Beyond Meat burger proves popular on Japan Airlines flights, they may choose to implement it, and other vegan options in the long-term. Whether it chooses to do so because of the demand or because of environmental concerns is irrelevant for those choosing to eat plant-based meals.
What do you think of the growing trend? Should airlines offer more vegan options onboard? Would you eat a plant-based burger if a meat-burger was not on the menu or would you choose something else? Let us know in the comments.