Hubby flew to Lima, Peru yesterday for work. He flew with United Airlines and requested an gluten free meal stupidly imagining that he would be served something he could eat…. do you know what makes me mad? What he was given was a vegan chickpea curry with a bread roll – alternative diet yes, gluten free NO! Bread contains gluten, a curry thickened with wheat almost certainly contains gluten!
Hubby had a choice – he could eat his chickpea curry and bread roll and suffer from some serious gastric distress for the next few hours (read explosive diarrhea), – unpleasant for him, even more unpleasant for those who need the toilet after him! (plus what damage has it done to his gut!). or he could go hungry for the 20 odd hours of his flight…. They said nothing else was available…
Not a pleasant choice… and the whole thing could probably have been avoided if the travel agent who booked it was educated about alternative diets.
Vegan is not the same as gluten free!
For me well I know I would have reacted to the gluten in the meal. I would have reacted to the chickpeas. and if there was any dairy I would have reacted to that as well (and giving that United Airlines don’t understand that a gluten-free meal does not equal an vegan meal, I am not placing any bets on anything I order being gluten or dairy free!, I am betting that the entire “gluten-free, dairy-free” meal would have been laced with gluten and dairy.
And what would that have meant for me? Well far more than the explosive diarrhea that Hubby is currently suffering from… I would end up unable to breath.. in need of a nebulizer or possibly an epipen -and most probably a time-costly (and medically expensive) stop-over at a major city so that I could be transferred to a hospital to manage my symptoms….. Costly medical treatment! and all because someone thinks “vegan= gluten and dairy free”…. I would also be covered with unbearably itchy hives (I have been known to scratch in my sleep), covered in scratches and unable to work for a couple of weeks (you cannot work as a massage therapist with open sores on your arms)…
All in all, it would be very expensive! And you bet your ass I would be suing the airline if that was the case!.. hubby doesn’t care to – a case of the squits and stinking out an airline toilet does not bother him. But if I was loosing 2-3 weeks employment as a result…..
And for some people it CAN be a case of life or death!
Just imagine the case of someone who has ordered a special diet, is diabetic, has to eat in order to avoid going into a diabetic coma but they fuck up the food and include stuff the person is allergic too.. They have to eat it to avoid being sick…. but the food makes them sick too… what to do? and that is not an improbably thought – there are plenty of gluten intolerant diabetics and lots of lactose intolerant diabetics…. and some people have far more severe reactions than a case of needing to run to the toilet…… for some it IS life-threatening.
Train your staff better… not all special diets are the same.. some people want vegan, some want vegetarian. When someone says they need a diet free of a particular item you can not just select vegan and hope for the best.. vegan food contains major allergens – gluten for example, so when, like hubby, someone requests a gluten free diet, selecting a vegan diet does not work… you NEED to select a gluten free or grain-free diet instead. Educate yourself!