I recently took a trip to Southeast Asia and experienced my first intercontinental flight as a vegan. I came prepared with food for fear of what the meals would be like but was pleasantly surprised. In fact, I would highly recommend ordering the vegan meal option to anyone taking a flight with a provided meal :).
I flew Philippine Air to Bangkok from Los Angeles via Manila on my way to Asia and flew back from Ho Chi Minh City to Los Angeles on China Southern via Guangzhou. For Philippine Air the vegan meal option is called Vegetarian Vegan, here is a list of all of their special meal options http://www.philippineairlines.com/flights/your-flight/special-meals/. For China Southern, it is also called Vegetarian Vegan http://www.csair.com/en/tourguide/flight_service/tour/teshu.shtml. Note that the abbreviation for both is VGML and will display as simply “vegetarian” on your ticket. I called both airlines before my flights and also checked with the airline counter at the airport to make sure that my special meal request had gone through.
Food served on Philippine Air: on the left, curried cauliflower with cilantro quinoa (my favorite airplane meal) with crackers, pineapple, and side salad and on the right, steamed potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, mushroom, and broccoli along with a muffin, a roll, and some fruit. I had a feeling the roll and muffin were not vegan and when I saw everyone else get served what looked like the same muffin and roll I opted to not eat my in case they were not vegan. The potatoes were great but the rest of the veggies were not - this was our "breakfast" meal.
Food served on China Southern:On the left hand side the main dish is vegetables with a curry type sauce, in the middle mashed potatoes and vegetables, and on the right, tofu with some vegetables. The first two meals were good but the tofu was terrible, I just had a bite and was unable to eat the rest of it. It was interesting having meals that were vegetables with a side of vegetables - imagine if that were the standard American diet! Overall I was very impressed with the quality of the meals, especially given that they were airplane meals and of course was very appreciative of having the option of vegan meals to begin with! Being served first is always a nice perk too :)
Finally, the snack I made to bring with me! Matt Frazier’s Momo Granola Bars with Extra Cherries. These were delicious and a filling, healthy treat for traveling - just be sure to pack them in tupperware instead of a plastic bag as they are quite crumbly.
During all of my flights, the person seated next to me commented on the meals I received which in each case turned into a fruitful conversation- two of which were quite memorable. The older gentleman I sat next to flying out of Los Angeles commented that he also tries to eat many vegetables. He mentioned that he does not worry about it while travelling and asked for tips. I told him to order vegan meals and Google the food options available at airports he will be at beforehand so he knows exactly where to look. I'd highly recommend bringing at the very least a healthy, filling, snack with you on long flights because you never know what food if any you will end up being served. I'll be posting soon about eating vegan at airports soon!