I have a travel secret for you. It’s a secret that will change the way you fly for good. It isn’t a hack to get cheaper flights, or a tip to get through airports faster. No, it’s travel advice that will allow you to feel better and be healthier when flying.
This is about airline mystery meat, that gelatinous and over salted slab of food in plastic wrap, you know what I’m talking about. Or at least about why you shouldn’t be eating it. Don’t lie, I know you’ve had it before, served to you on a long-haul flight somewhere. As you pull back the foil or plastic and the gravy and condensation oozes over your tray table, you don’t know whether to eat it or gawk at it. Sometimes it’s gelatinous, other times discolored, and with a poke of the fork you debate on eating this questionable meal.
But you’re hungry right? It’s been a long day of stress filing through airport security, waiting around, and hours of sitting on your bruised bum. Your stomach is growling and your energy is low. You need this grub down, no matter how much it looks like road kill.
Well, I’m going to divulge my big little secret to you. It is something I discovered while on the long haul flight to New Zealand, and a travel hack I’ve used for the past 5 years. And it is the reason you shouldn’t eat the mystery meat ever again.
My Big Little Travel Hack for Flying
Ready for a doozy? Here’s the secret — always order vegetarian or vegan for your meal on a long flight.
I know, here it comes. What kind of hippity-dippity tree hugging rubbish am I trying to force upon you? Screw rabbit food and you’ll take that salisbury steak or butter chicken any day on a flight right?
That’s also why you feel even more drained and nauseous after an 8+ hour flight. And why you probably need to use the toilet a lot more too.
You know that little tick box as you are booking your flight that asks if you have any special dietary requirements? I know the cavemen and women in all of us brush that off as a silly thing unless you are truly vegetarian or vegan. Why would you opt for something potentially less filling when it’s a freebie too?
Trust me on this one. You’ll thank me the next time you fly.
So what is my reason for why you should forgo the chicken, beef, and pork options they offer you on a plane? It’s simple — it isn’t nutritious.
It Helps Fight Dehydration
On a 10+ hour flight your body has so many changes happening to it. Especially dehydration. The atmosphere in an airplane dries you out, always circulating air and sapping your body of all moisture.
Plus, if you are in a window seat or middle seat, you may drink a whole lot less because you don’t want to make people keep getting up. I know I’ve got to wee so often at the worst times, and I hate to be the one who has to keep waking people to squeeze out. That anxiety of having to go pee when everyone else is fast asleep is killer, amiright?
And that mystery meat doesn’t help fight the dehydration much. It most likely with dehydrate you more.
Usually pork, chicken, beef, or some sort of fish served on a plane has sodium levels out the wazoo. The salt content in airline meat, poultry, pork, and fish meals are high to preserve the meals kept on board, and to make them taste decent.
These packs are fast prepared and mass-produced and it’s not like we’re getting Master Chef meals prepared for us, so sodium is high in everything, even the gravy.
There are so many things happening to your body while you cruise at 400mph 36,000 feet in the air. Things are compressing. The last thing you want to do is turn your stomach upside down and inside out with a bad meal.
“Oh, wow, I don’t feel so good now…“
That is something I’ve heard a few times on long haul flights after someone eagerly digs into their pork with rice and devours it in minutes. We are fiendish when the meals arrive because flying is exhausting. Almost immediately your stomach makes that whining noise and you feel bloated. And if you drink a coffee or a drink with alcohol after, it’s a double whammy.
It Helps Nourish your Body
If you are hungry and you’ve exuded tons of energy rushing around, packing, checking in, hauling luggage, going through security, boarding the plane, and sitting stationary for 10+ hours your body needs some good ole’ fuel.
Not just something that is simply filling…
The vegetarian or vegan meals I’ve eaten are colorful, bright, and packed with vegetables and fruit.
Sometimes there’s a salad. And don’t worry about getting full, because these veggie meals are usually paired with rice as a filler and some sort of grain like a wheat roll.
Even without the rice and rolls, vegetables will make you feel fuller because they are more nutritious, instead of feeling like you just swallowed a gravy-smothered brick.
Most dishes I’ve had on long-haul flights have Lima beans or other types of beans to gives you that protein you crave.
Steamed vegetables like carrots and cauliflower to boost your nutrients. Fruit helps keep your vitamin C levels high as people cough and hack all around you.
The sugar in the fruits will turn into energy better than the processed and refined sugars in the other dishes. Dark greens like spinach will kick up your iron and energy.
The last thing you need is to put a bunch of processed meat with high sodium into your body after already being tired and dehydrated. Wonder why you always have an epic headache and a big crash hard after a flight? Yes, part of that is due to time-difference and the effects of flying. But another part of that is your body is drained of quality nutrients.
You Get Served First
I’m not saying first as in seconds before everyone else. Each time I’ve pre-ordered vegetarian or vegan, I’ve consistently been served my meal 30-45 minute before everyone else.
I have time to eat my meal, get up and use the rest room, and come back way before everybody else gets theirs.
That way, you don’t have to sit there while everybody around you finishes eating and wait for the attendants to collect the trash just to get up or get comfortable.
By the time most people finish eating, everybody is clamoring for the toilets. You eat first, finish first, hit the bathroom, and are sound asleep before the chaos begins.
It’s a win win baby!
Save the meats for the real restaurants. By ordering vegetarian or vegan, you will provide your body with enough of right things it needs, while not simultaneously sapping it with sodium and processed stuff. And you’ll get to eat far sooner than others.
Now you know my big little secret when flying. Keep it on the hush-hush or I won’t be eating first if everybody catches on!
Make sure to stick away from the sugary deserts and sweets they slip in there too, and don’t drink sodas while on long flights.
SIDE NOTE: If you are devious…by the time everybody is being served I’ve given my tray to the staff and I am always given a second, regular meal by accident. I always refuse, but if you are hungry, you could have a double serving and just give the mystery meat to another person. 😛