Tastefully Yours Catering

Oh No, It's a Vegetarian

Dec 10, 10:54 AM

Oh No, it’s a Vegetarian . . .

We received a request this weekend for several vegetarian meals and snacks. Simple enough, Yes? But there’s a problem for the caterer. If you have any understanding of vegetarians, you will know that there is not just one group called vegetarian; there are 
in fact at least 11 different types of vegetarians with specific restrictions as to what foods and condiments can be used in the production of their meals.

Here is Vegetarianism 101 for those of you who need to know more when you are asked to source a meal for a vegetarian. I promise that if you ask the right questions of the passenger or flight crew member for whom are providing this food, and we, the caterer, have the correct information to work from, you will be a hero!

Most people understand the word vegetarian to mean that these individuals do not eat any animal flesh foods- meats, poultry, and fish and any food by-products resulting from those flesh covered animals. With this in mind, let me explain some of the reasons people are vegetarians. It can be first and foremost- religious. In many cultures, animals are sacred and should not be eaten. Religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, encourage their followers to avoid eating animal products. The primary reasons why some religions promote vegetarianism are to follow an ideal of non-violence, to animals and humans alike, and to encourage spiritualism and clear thinking.

Secondly, it may be because of moral and ethical reasons. They simply don’t want to eat anything that has suffered or been caused pain or had to die to provide them with a meal. It may be that they protest the way in which the animals were raised for food. They may also object to the way big business revolves around the production and distribution of the byproducts such as milk and honey.

Third, it may be for health reasons. It is a very personal choice, a way of life for the vegetarian. Albert Einstein once said” nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet”. Many people turn to vegetarianism because they consider it to be healthier than a meat-based diet. Some may even be are advised by their doctors or practice the super foods diet and avoid meat and meat products. Vegetarians have lower cholesterol levels than meat eaters; they also tend to have lower blood pressure levels. Vegetarian diets also reduce sodium intake, a vegetarian diet is good for passengers and flight crew with diabetes since the diet is high in complex carbs and fiber which reduces blood sugar levels. And most interesting of all to me is that studies show the cancer death rates from vegetarians are only about ½ to ¾ of the general population’s cancer death rates. Breast cancer rates are much lower and vegetarians are less likely to form kidney stones or develop osteoporosis and suffer hip fractures.

So what are the 11 types of vegetarianism?

  • Semi-Vegetarian, Flexitarian : These individuals are cutting back on their intake of meat. They mainly eat vegetarian food, but will occasionally make exceptions. This group may also be vegetarian sympathizers. They may choose organically raised meat or decrease their meat consumption from what they once ate.

  • Pollo Vegetarian: will avoid red meat, pork and fish but will eat chicken, fowl, and turkey.

  • Pesco Pollo Vegetarian: will avoid red meat but eats chicken and fish.

  • Lacto Ovo Vegetarian: excludes meat, fish, and poultry but includes dairy products and eggs. Most vegetarians in the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe fall into this category. These groups of vegetarians eat cheese, ice cream, yogurt, milk, as well as foods made with these ingredients. They may or may not eat eggs.

  • Pesco-Vegetarians: will avoid red meat but include fish in their diet.

  • Ovo-vegetarian: Do not eat meat or dairy products but do eat eggs

  • Lacto Vegetarian: A lacto vegetarian diet excludes meat, fish, and poultry, as well as eggs and any foods containing eggs. They will eat dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.

  • Vegan: Technically, the term vegan refers to more than just the diet alone. A vegan is a vegetarian who avoids eating or using all animal products, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, any foods containing by-products of these ingredients (i.e., honey), wool, silk, leather, and any nonfood items made with animal byproducts. Vegans are sometimes called “strict vegetarians”.

  • Raw Foods Diet / Raw Vegan: consists primarily of unprocessed uncooked foods. They do not consume foods that have been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). “Raw foodists” believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost a significant amount of their nutritional value and are harmful to the body.

  • Macrobiotic: This diet is followed for its healthy and healing qualities; it includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and allows the occasional consumption of fish. Sugar and refined oils are avoided. Emphasis is given to the consumption of Asian vegetables, such as daikon, sea vegetables, and seaweed.

  • Fruitarians: Eat only fruits, seeds, nuts, and other plant components that can be gathered without harming the plant. They eat vegetables, botanically classified as fruits, such as tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and avocados; and seeds and nuts, in the belief that the cultivation of vegetables contributes to the destruction of the environment through agriculture.

To assist you in your role as Flight Attendant, Scheduler, or Operator arranging catering for these passengers and flight crew, following are some hints for planning a vegetarian meal, things you need to know in order to plan a catering order for the vegetarian?

Establish what type of vegetarian the person is. Refer to the above list or go to www.aviationcateringconsultants.com website and check out the link for additional information. I have put together a simple chart with all the vegetarian types condensed and broken down for you to download to your computer for easy reference. You will also find lists of where to get specific nutrients in the vegetarian diet and numerous vegetarian recipes you can pass along to your food sources.

A vegetarian has four main food groups. If something from each group is included in the daily diet, you will be sure of getting the nutrients you need for a healthy diet.

  • Beans ( 2 or more servings a day for ½ cup cooked beans, 4 ounce of tofu or tempeh or 8 ounces of soy milk equal a serving), nuts and seeds

  • Grains (5 or more servings a day and 1 slice of bread, ½ cooked grain or 1 ounce of dry cereal is a serving)

  • Dairy

  • Fruit (3 or more servings a day and 1 serving is 1 medium piece of fresh fruit, ½ cup cooked fruit, or 4 ounces of fresh juice) and vegetables ( 4 or more servings a day and 1 serving is ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw)

Many foods that typically contain meat or poultry can be made vegetarian. Vegetarian meals may actually reheat better in the aircraft environment because of the higher water content of fruits and vegetables

pasta primavera or pasta with marinara or pesto sauce
vegetable lasagna
tofu-vegetable stir fry, any vegetable stir-fry, or pad Thai
vegetable lo Mein
vegetable kebabs, grilled
bean burritos or tacos, taco salad with texturized soy protein crumbles
For breakfast, try soy-based sausage patties or links
Rather than hamburgers, try veggie burgers. A variety of kinds are available, made with soy beans, black beans, vegetables, and/or rice
Add vegetarian meat substitutes to soups and stews. These include tempeh (cultured soybeans with a chewy texture), tofu, or wheat gluten (seitan)
For barbecues, try veggie burgers, soy hot dogs, marinated tofu or tempeh
Make bean burgers, lentil burgers, or pita halves with falafel (spicy ground chick pea patties which reheat on aircraft extremely well)
Suggest to the caterer soy options (texturized vegetable protein) as a substitute for meat, and soy cheese as a substitute for regular cheese

Here are a few menu ideas with more appealing options for your vegetarian on board:


  • Oatmeal Pancakes with Applesauce Topping and Calcium Fortified Orange Juice

  • 1 Cup of Steel Cut Oatmeal with Cinnamon (Remember the Super Foods) and Raisins, ½ Cup Soy Milk, 1 Slice of Whole Grain Toast with Almond Butter, ½ Grapefruit


  • Bean Burritos Made with Black Beans and Corn in a Corn Tortilla with Chopped Lettuce, Tomatoes, Salsa and a Fresh Spinach Salad with Tahini-Lemon Dressing

  • Whole Wheat Pita Stuffed With Sun Dried Tomato Hummus, Tomato, Lettuce, and Shredded Carrot, and Green Bean and Fingerling Potato Salad with Miso Dressing

  • Tempura Beet with Rollatini with Balsamic Glaze

  • Summer Chopped Salad

  • Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger with Fresh Spinach Leaves and Cajun Avocado and Rèmoulade, Asparagus with Orange Zest, And Tomato Salad with Arugula Pesto


  • Chinese Vegetable Stir Fry Over Whole Grain Brown Rice With Tofu Chunks, Broccoli, Water Chestnuts, Snow or Sugar Pea Pods, Water Chestnuts, Straw Mushrooms, and Bok Choy. And served for dessert Cantaloupe Drizzled with Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice or a Whipped Cashew Cream.

  • A Vegetable Plate Consisting Of: Baked Sweet Potato, Steamed Collard Greens with Hot Pepper Sauce, Baked Beans and a Fresh Baked Apple with Cinnamon for Dessert

  • Vegetable Fajita, Rice with Tomato and Saffron, Vegetarian Black Beans

  • Peppercorn Encrusted Portobello Fillets with Yellow Tomato Béarnaise and Mashed Potatoes

  • Free Form Ravioli with Tofu Ricotta and Arugula Pesto

  • Gardein Chicken Scaloppini with Shiitake Sake Sauce, Braised Pea Shoots and Crispy Udon Noodle Cake

  • Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms With Polenta, Roasted Japanese Eggplant and Smoke Paprika Crème

For snacks or starters try things like:

Corn Chowder
Yellow Lentil Soup
Butternut Squash Soup
Macadamia Caprese
Sweet Onion Beggar’s Purses with Red Onion Jam
Beet Ravioli with Balsamic Pickled Figs and Green Garlic Oil
Lemongrass Consomé’ with Pea Shoot and Mushroom Dumplings
Cream of Asparagus Soup 
Quinoa, Avocado and Sweet Potato Timbale with Roasted Tomatillo Dressing
Fresh Fruit (Remember our Super Food list)
Grilled Garden Vegetables with Pomegranate Balsamic Reduction
Trail Mix
Granola Bars
Oatmeal Cookies
Baked Kale Chips ( So easy to do on the airplane)
Dried Figs
Banana Soymilk or Almond Milk Shake
Steamed Edamame
Lightly Toasted Nuts
Fresh Baked Focaccia with Caramelized Onions and Marinara

Simply speaking, you have the ability to offer your passengers and flight crews delicious and tempting meals that meet the vegetarian restrictions. Even the smallest and most inexperienced food source should be able to accommodate you with the information provided here.

Bon Appetite!

Link to the BlueSky Business Aviation News Article Featuring Paula Kraft of Tastefully Yours

More Articles

View Archives