KLM Scraps Meat From Menus, Airline Goes Full Vegetarian

KLM has decided to take meat and fish from its in-flight dining menus and goes full vegetarian in a bid to become a more sustainable airline.

Environment

The news about KLM going meatless was reported by Dutch national daily Telegraaf (link Dutch only). KLM’s Director of Customer Experience Boet Kreiken told the largest Dutch newspaper that the move to vegetarian food was motivated by the airline’s wish to become more sustainable.

Mr Kreiken said: “Sustainability is an important theme. We constantly look at trends in society and adjust our menu development accordingly.”

breakfast service
Breakfast service in economy class on a KLM Boeing 787. ©Paliparan

Vegetarian

On intra-European and other short-haul flights, KLM already stopped serving meat and fish in economy class and is nowadays solely serving vegetarian snacks and dishes.

This will be expanded towards all flights across KLM’s massive route network, including long-haul intercontinental flights.

Mr Kreiken said: “Almost nobody noticed it that we no longer serve meat on European flights and it will be rolled out in the coming years across the rest of the network.”

According to the KLM director, passengers will however still have a choice of (vegetarian) meal as he said that “our customers’ freedom of choice is important”. Mr Kreiken also added that “the meals must be tasty and of high quality”.

klm economy class 737 review
A vegetarian meal on a KLM economy class flight between Amsterdam and Bucharest. ©Paliparan

Exception

KLM’s director said only a few destinations known for their meat-heavy cuisine will be exempted from the vegetarian drive and will still see meat and fish options on the menu.

Mr Kreiken said: “On flights from Texas or South America meat will be an option for a while longer. But the trend is undeniably towards sustainability. This is about making our offer greener.”

klm economy class review
An economy class dinner – with a bit of meat – on a long-haul KLM flight to San José. ©Paliparan

Business class

KLM’s flights will only become vegetarian in economy class as business class customers will still see meat and fish on the menu for the time being.

Kreiken explained that switching to vegetarian food in KLM’s premium class could have serious consequences as unhappy meat-eating passengers might switch their business to one of their competitors.

Mr Kreiken said: “We will continue to offer our top customers a choice of meat and fish. It must be of organic origin and with a quality mark.

“But in the longer term, we will take a look whether there are good replacements or alternatives for this. We look at our total ecological footprint. So in addition to more economical aircraft that also means a greener menu.”

salad
A vegetarian meal on an intra-European business flight on KLM in which a salad as main course is paired with another salad as side dish. ©Paliparan

Savings

According to Telegraaf the switch to vegetarian food could also save the airline some cash, which might have been another reason to switch to meatless meals.

In 2019 – before the corona crisis impacted global aviation – KLM spent more than 200 million euro a year on catering through its own company KLM Catering Services, which prepares more than 55,000 meals a day for over 350 flights.

Mr Kreiken however denied that the switch to vegetarian meals is a cost-cutting measure.

klm non-schengen crown lounge review
The KLM non-Schengen Crown Lounge at Amsterdam Airport. ©Paliparan

Conclusion

KLM will go meatless as in the near future all flights across KLM’s network will become vegetarian in economy class, with only business class passengers still getting a choice between meat, fish or a vegetarian meal.

Only flights to meat-loving regions and countries such as the US state of Texas and South America will see meat being served for a while longer, but KLM will eventually move to a full vegetarian service even on those flights.

Personally, I find the distinction between economy and business class a bit weird, even though it’s fully understandable from the perspective of KLM as they rightly fear some premium customers might otherwise take their business to one of the competitors. For example, I can’t see KLM’s partner airline Air France going full vegetarian given how important meat and seafood is in French cuisine.

However, many economy class passengers might feel this decision as some sort of class discrimination as they aren’t given a choice while premium customers are exempted. I’m therefore really curious to see how this will turn out for KLM.

I’m a meat-loving person myself, although one who is trying to eat vegetarian at least half of the week, so I do understand the trend and the drive for more sustainable meals.

However, I’m not sure whether such a drastic move will have a positive effect when the decision to eat less meat is being imposed by higher-ups instead of it being a conscious decision by people themselves.

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Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

2 thoughts on “KLM Scraps Meat From Menus, Airline Goes Full Vegetarian

  • September 7, 2021 at 4:54 pm
    Permalink

    I think Finnair are doing the same thing. It suits me but it won’t suit everyone by far.

    Reply
    • September 8, 2021 at 12:00 pm
      Permalink

      Yeah that’s what I think as well. I’m really curious how this will go down with the pax.

      I definitely can see the benefits of doing this short/mid-haul in economy, which they are already doing for a few years. It suits not only vegetarians but if they do it right also many Jewish and Muslim passengers who would otherwise refuse non-kosher/halal food.

      I’m however not so sure how business class passengers who pay top buck and are normally used to choice think of this. Especially not when KLM’s catering already wasn’t among the top in quality to put it mildly (decent IMO, but not good).

      Reply

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