Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
When I recently flew on ANA, the in-flight meal was a surprisingly good soy-free experience. I was nervous because it is an Asian airline, but several menu items were soy-free, and it was pretty easy to tell which foods contained soy (either by using the menu or just making an educated guess). In contrast to ANA, I recently had the opportunity to fly domestically within China. Even though they were pretty short and not international, these flights served an in-flight meal. So do Chinese airlines provide a soy-free in-flight dining experience? How do they stack up to ANA?
In short, I preferred ANA. The Chinese airlines provided a good variety of food, and there might have been about the same amount of soy as in the meal on ANA, but I couldn’t tell because nothing was labeled and it was really hard to tell which food items contained soy. To be safe, avoiding soy meant avoiding almost the entire meal.
Each meal had a similar composition: I was served a few pieces of fresh fruit, yogurt, a side dish (a pre-packed roll or other unknown bread-like product), and a main dish (I could choose noodles or rice) that consisted of chicken and vegetables in some sort of sauce. The fresh fruit and yogurt were easily soy-free. They were great options! It was unclear what the side dish contained, so to be safe it was avoided. It would have been okay to just avoid the side dish, but the main dish’s ingredients were also unknown. Both the noodles and rice options contained a sauce that was already mixed in, and it wasn’t possible to eat around the sauce. Since I didn’t know what the sauce contained, I assumed it was likely soy-based (or at the very least, that it contained soy). Additionally, unlike ANA, there was no ingredient information provided, so it was impossible to tell if noodles or rice provided a better soy-free option, or if they both contained soy. One of the meals I ate may have even included tofu chunks with the chicken and vegetables; I ate it, but I definitely wasn’t certain of what I was eating (note that I was able to do this because I do not have a soy intolerance like Ashley does).
My Chinese in-flight meal experience was very different than ANA, and it was definitely harder to avoid soy. As with traveling anywhere in China, I would strongly recommend bringing some snacks on a Chinese flight since much of the meal likely contained soy. That being said, the fruit and yogurt options were great, and since the flights were pretty short I was very happy to receive any sort of meal.