Saturday, September 4, 2010

FLYING GLUTEN-FREE VEGETARIAN

INTERNATIONAL FOOD BLOGGERS CONFERENCE

SEATTLE  AUGUST 27-29 2010
When I travelled back and forth to Europe as a student or new graduate, I had no dietary restrictions whatsoever and my main concern was how much Italian sausage I could sneak off the plane at JFK if I hadn't already devoured it all in flight.
I have changed, and, perhaps foolishly, expected airlines to change with me. Nowadays, as a gluten-free vegetarian, I find, sadly, they have not quite kept in step with the needs of people like myself. How difficult would it be to serve vegetarian chili with gluten-free corn tortillas? Or an all-chickpea falafel in a brown rice wrap? Or any number of vegetarian dishes with accompaniments that are respectful of the gluten-free? Too difficult, it seems!

I flew Continental to and from IFBC (NYC>Seattle), and I will be flying Jet Blue to and from Blogher Food (NYC>SF), and in addition to winning in the legroom research I did all too late (I expect to be more comfortable on JB), information on available meals is clearer on the Jet Blue site, where images inform me that I can expect the items listed for each box meal will be individually wrapped, allowing me to eliminate any problematic foods. I will report back in October as to how that worked out. 
Since will be my first time on Jet Blue, I will carry with me, as a back-up, the same items I had on the way to Seattle, flying with Continental. I tend to graze all day and would hate to be caught empty-handed because of travel delays. Hence the generous size of this back-up pack. 

GLUTEN-FREE VEGETARIAN IN-FLIGHT EMERGENCY BACK-UP PACK

1 sleeve rice cakes
2 rice cakes spread with peanut butter
2 rice cakes spread with soft cheese
1 small plastic bag of walnut halves
1 plastic bag of carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, celery sticks and grape tomatoes
1 12 oz can vegetable juice
3 fruits
2 gluten-free power bars
Call me crazy but I'm hoping, within a year or so, to travel by air almost as easily as a person without dietary restrictions. Since gluten-free foods are, according to Nielsen, one of the fastest growing segments in the food industry, and the New Vegetarians are growing in number, too, it is hard to imagine that airlines won't be paying attention!

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