Maintaining a plant-based diet while traveling can be a challenge, especially when navigating airports and long flights. But now Delta Airlines just announced that it will be making it easier, by adding five new plant-based options to its menu for the first time, featuring meatless meatballs and other vegetarian options.

The airline, which flies 200 million people a year, announced that the plant-based dishes will be available this month on select flights that travel 900 miles or longer. Initially, the meatless meals will be available to Delta One or First Class customers. The plant-forward meals offer passengers the opportunity to opt-out of the previously meat-heavy inflight menu.

“Not only are plant-based meats like Impossible Burger delicious to eat, but they’re also often better for the environment, using far less land and water to produce,” Senior Vice President of In-Flight Service at Delta Kristen Manion Taylor said in a statement. “These new options are one part of Delta’s broader mission to promote a wellness-focused travel journey.”

Delta's Vegetarian Inflight Menu

Delta will partner will both Impossible Foods and Black Sheep Foods on its new vegetarian menu. The airline will offer two dishes nationwide, including the Impossible Burger topped with caramelized onion chutney and Manchego Cheese and the Warm Season Vegetable Plate made with grilled heirloom carrots, grilled red onions, roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted button mushrooms, and fresh broccolini served on an Israeli couscous. The vegetable plate contains non-vegan lemon herb butter.

The airline will also offer three additional exclusive menu items depending on the city of departure. For flights leaving the New York City area (LaGuardia and JFK airports), an Impossible Meatball dish tossed in a Pomodoro sauce with pesto cream, spinach, roasted tomatoes, and orzo risotto will be on the menu. The vegetarian dish is made in partnership with Union Square Events.

For San Francisco passengers, Delta flights will include a meatless meatball dish from Black Sheep Foods. The new meatless option will also feature spinach rice and dairy-based feta. The meal will be created in partnership with the local Mediterranean chain Souvla. On the West coast, Seattle passengers will be able to order a pan-fried cauliflower cake containing rapini, dairy-based parmesan, and rice cauliflower. The vegetarian dish will also come with a creamy pesto orzo, toasted hazelnuts, and roasted tomatoes.

Delta has not clarified if passengers can request the new menu dishes be prepared fully vegan. Even though the five menu items showcase fully plant-based proteins, each dish contains at least one dairy-based ingredient.

Delta’s Sustainability Mission

While the Delta menu is far from fully plant-based, the groundbreaking dishes have pushed the airline in the right direction. The menu development provides customers with a far more sustainable option, curbing carbon emissions associated with their inflight meals. A recent report found that a meat-free diet could reduce average greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 60 percent.

When compared to animal-based beef production, Impossible’s plant-based alternative emits 90 percent fewer greenhouse gases, making it one of the most sustainable vegan products available. Producing the Impossible burger requires 75 percent less land and 85 percent less water compared to current livestock operations.

By teaming up with Souvla and Black Sheep Foods, Delta is tapping into an underrepresented alternative protein market. Souvla first introduced the plant-based lamb product at its restaurants late last year, and now, the two companies are providing the sustainable lamb alternative to Delta flyers. Black Sheep Lamb uses 98 percent less land and produces 95 percent fewer carbon emissions than traditional lamb, offering Delta customers an accessible introduction to environmentally friendly meat substitutes unlike ever before.

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