Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Houston, we have a problem

Not a major problem, mind you, but I just wanted to say "Houston, we have a problem." I told Seamus I was going to find some excuse to say that today since I have a layover in Houston (which is where I'm blogging from now). I was thinking I'd go to Starbucks and order a drink, and then tell them they got my order wrong and go, "Houston, we have a problem." (This is where you laugh.) (You probably had to be there.) (Which would technically be impossible since I didn't actually do it, I was just talking about doing it.)

Anyhoo, moving on, here's my problem: the "Vegetarian" option. On Continental Airlines, they might as well rename it the "Don't Bother" option. What happens is that when you buy your ticket, you click a box that says you want the "Vegetarian" option (if it's a long enough flight that they're serving a meal). Then, they ignore your request. Then, when you get on the plane, you have to tell them that you want the "Vegetarian" option. Which is what I did. I said, "Do you have a vegetarian version?" and the flight attendant said "Yes," then handed me my little plastic box that contained: a flaccid iceberg lettuce "salad" (with no other veggies in it), a packet of dressing, a "fun pack" of M&Ms with about 25 M&Ms in it, and a ketchup packet. She also gave one to my seat-mate, and then she handed him a hot sandwich. I sat there munching on my nasty salad, waiting for my cheese sandwich or whatever it was while the flight attendant chatted with someone about the total awesomeness of Veggie Tales (irony!) and how much her kid looooooves it, but it turned out there was no cheese sandwich. The "Vegetarian" option is just the regular old ketchup and M&Ms salad, sans sandwich. So I'm pretty sure I didn't derive any nutritional benefit from my "lunch", except for maybe 200 calories (I guess it would have been 225 if I'd eaten the ketchup) and some minimal amount of fiber from the lettuce. They serve better lunches in Gitmo. They also serve (marginally) better lunches at faculty meetings at the fine institution where I teach. At least in the vegetarian lunch at faculty meetings, you get some little cabbage pieces and maybe some carrots mixed into your iceberg lettuce. And if you get there early enough, there are even cut up pieces of hard-boiled egg that you can use to add that extra special something to your meal. Yum-o!

Will this be the year that I work up the courage to round up some fellow vegetarian faculty members and demand that the administration offer us a vegetarian option that's equivalent to the turkey wraps that come with the non-veg option? I mean, everyone knows that when it comes to the airline industry, you just have to bend over and take what they give you. And of course people have been complaining about airline food and will do so until the end of time (or until the end of air travel as we know it, which could come sooner than we think, but that's a topic for a different post). But higher education is supposed to be different, dammit! So who's with me??


dr said...

You should totally organize the veggie faculty to insist on cheese sandwiches or something like that. (Pescatarians are happy when there's tuna, I guess. Isn't there sometimes tuna?)

On not-even-really-related-note, I've been meaning to tell you for a few weeks that I learned while we were in France that (~French panicked response to the news that their kids are not also obese, just like American kids) they've stopped giving kids snacks during school. And the school day runs 8 to 4, starting at age 3. The problems with the *policy* run the gamut (small stomachs have trouble lasting 4.5 hours between meals; the idiocy of combating obesity by teaching kids to binge eat; the fact that lots of research argues that multiple smaller meals are healthier than three big ones; etc.), and that's even without the faulty logic of the premise ...

Mary said...

Thanks for your support, dr! I think there used to be tuna (it wasn't super-good, but it was something). I'm pretty sure they replaced it with eggs (maybe the vegetarians who don't eat fish complained about it).

And wow, that is so messed up about the new policy in France. I hadn't heard anything about that! Yeah, they're totally going to help kids develop healthy eating habits by starving them at school.

meerkat said...

Oh man. I usually fly American, and I've had some decent vegan meals on there (hopefully; can't really trust them when they give you non-dairy creamer that lists dairy right there in the ingredients, and is that butter? That really looks like butter) but then there are other times when they give you some flavorless boiled vegetables, some OTHER flavorless boiled vegetables, and two different salads, with eggy-looking dressing packet of untrustworthiness. Gahhhh. So then I tried Delta. What veg meal? Oh, gee, we don't have yours. This is why I always bring snacks. If I've been home my mom makes delicious soft pretzels, and if I'm coming from Tokyo there is a vegan lunchbox place in Shinagawa.