Airline Veg Meal Codes
No one really likes Airline food, but you should at least be able to get something matching your dietary requirements, and there is a “Meal Code” consistency amongst Airlines. Often referred to as “Special Meals”, the codes stand for the type of meal, and are defined by the ingredients and methods that may be used to prepare those meals.
These codes only apply to long-haul flights where meals are complimentary. To get a special meal, you must request it at least 48 hours before your flight. I usually call the Airline about a week before I fly, 2 days before, and then again at the check-in counter to confirm. This may seem overkill, but if it isn’t in the system by the time you check-in, you probably won’t get it, and some times staff simply fail to add it correctly. I’ve been stuck before on long-haul flights with no food, and it sucks.
Also note, that quite often you will get standard (read: non vegan) condiments with your vegan requested meal. For example, butter, margarine or salad dressing. So always check these first.
Budget airlines & short-haul flights that have food “for purchase” have very different meals and snacks, rarely with any vegan options. Pre-purchased meals however, like on Air Asia, may have vegan options, so check when booking.
In any case, as a backup for both short and long-haul flights, I always bring some food of my own. Cold pasta or rice dishes, sandwiches, and fruit all work well. Don’t bring anything with too much liquid or paste or you may lose it at the security check point.
There are seven codes that are of interest to Vegetarians and Vegans, five of which are fully vegan. Emirates has the best descriptions, as written below:
Vegetarian Meal (VGML) – VEGAN
Also known as Vegan, this meal is totally free of any animal products or by-products such as eggs or dairy products. It contains one or more of these ingredients: all types of vegetables and fresh fruit.
It does NOT contain any type of meat, fish, or animal products or by-products.
Vegetarian Jain Meal (VJML) – VEGAN
This meal is for members of the Jain community who are pure vegetarians. It is prepared with a selection of Indian condiments. It contains one or more of these ingredients: fresh fruit and stem vegetables that grow above the ground.
It does NOT contain: animal products and by-products, and any root vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, etc.
Vegetarian Oriental Meal (VOML) – VEGAN
This is a Vegetarian Meal (VGML) that is also prepared Chinese or Oriental-style.
Vegetarian Lacto-Ovo Meal (VLML)
This is a Vegetarian Meal that may also contain eggs and dairy products. It contains one or more of these ingredients: vegetables, fresh fruit, eggs, dairy products, and pulses.
It does NOT contain any type of fish or meat.
Asian Vegetarian Meal (AVML)
This meal is available for vegetarian passengers. It is usually aromatic and spicy, and incorporates flavours from the Indian sub-continent. It contains one or more of these ingredients: all types of vegetables, fresh fruit and milk products.
It does NOT contain any type of meat, fish or eggs.
Raw Vegetable Meal (RVML) – VEGAN
This meal consists exclusively of raw vegetables and salads.
Fruit Platter (FPML) – VEGAN
This meal may be ordered for dietary reasons. It may also be ordered by members of certain communities who eat only fruit while fasting.
It contains one or more of these ingredients: seasonal fresh fruit.
It does NOT contain canned fruit.