Meet Aashti Sindhu, a 36-year-old captain started flying in 2007 with Kingfisher Airlines. Most weeks, she flies about 4 to 5 days. Over a career spanning 15 years, she has flown to almost all cities in India which have an airport - Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Nagpur, Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Raipur, Kochi, Trivandrum, Chennai, Patna, Dibrugarh, Male, Port Blair, Goa, Dehradun, and more. Some of the countries she has flown to are Singapore, Thailand, UAE, Qatar and Hong Kong.
I experimented with a lot of recipes and soon realised that vegan eating can be as delicious as you want it to be. Besides flying, I think this is my second biggest passion. I love guiding people on how to transition into a plant-based lifestyle knowing that the benefits far outweigh what you think you’re giving up.
When you are working, as a pilot, on the field, how do you make sure your diet stays vegan? What do you eat, do you pack anything from home?
I normally pack most of my food for flights. The easiest would be some overnight oats with fruits, a tofu pulao and a plant-based raita. For snacks, I carry nuts and dry fruits. I try to keep my meals very simple and cook with very little to no oil.
How does the food available on flights and at airports stack up for a vegan?
On most airlines, you can now prebook a vegan meal so that is a great option. In India, most airports have quite a few accidental vegan options like dosa, idly, sambhar, dal rice, etc. I just ask them to omit the ghee and butter.
Could there be any improvements in that (flights and airports)?
I do wish we had a lot more healthier options available on board and at airports. It would be nice to see some smoothie bars or a fruit counter where passengers can pick up healthy snacks.
What’s your advice for travelling vegan?
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I think it’s quite easy to travel as a vegan in 2021. You just have to do some research before going to the place. We are lucky in India to have a lot of plant-based options because most traditional Indian cuisine is very easily veganised. If you’re travelling abroad, it might get challenging depending on the country you’re visiting. South East Asia and Europe are also extremely vegan friendly. I think the only place where I have had a hard time has been the Middle East. My only advice to vegans would be not to stress if they accidently eat something that isn’t vegan. We all make mistakes but we shouldn’t dwell on them. Instead, we can learn and try to do better the next time.
As a vegan traveller, what difficulties do you encounter on holidays?
I love travelling to new places and trying out vegan food in different cities. I think travelling to North India is a little hard because they add ghee and butter to every single vegetarian dish. So, I normally just try and find an Asian or South Indian restaurant. Cuisines like Thai, Asian, Sri Lankan, South Indian are very easily veganised.
Any interesting anecdotes and incidents while you were travelling as a vegan?
I love exploring vegan restaurants in different cities and connecting with vegans in various countries. Even though I might not know them, it still feels like we have a connection because we are all working towards a vegan world. Singapore is one of my favourite places to have a layover. There are lots of vegan restaurants and I’ve met some really fun people too who are doing amazing things in their community by spreading this vegan message.
What is the idea behind your Instagram page?
I started my Instagram page @aashtis back in 2018 to show people how easy it is to travel as a vegan. I think most people have reservations thinking that vegan food is expensive or hard to find. But, in reality, vegan food is the cheapest and easiest to find. Fruits, vegetables, pulses, grains and rice are things that are available in every country. I actually saved a lot of money when I turned vegan and stopped buying my weekly supply of meat and seafood.
Is there anything you are working on currently in relation to the plant-based movement?
I am currently working as a Vegan Food Consultant with restaurants and hotels that want to add vegan, plant based and gluten free options to their menu. The vegan market has grown tremendously over the past few years and businesses are realizing this. I help restaurants become vegan friendly so they can confidently cater to the needs of the modern guest. Sustainability, climate change and health are now the driving factors behind diet choice and my aim is to help businesses tap into this growing market of customers.