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AirAsia partners alternative protein start-up Green Rebel for meatless meals onboard

AirAsia partners alternative protein start-up Green Rebel for meatless meals onboard

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Indonesian alternative protein start-up Green Rebel has partnered with Malaysian budget airline AirAsia to launch vegan and vegetarian versions of beloved Southeast Asian dishes on its regional inflight menus.

From 18 July, passengers onboard AirAsia's Malaysia routes will be able to enjoy Pak Nasser's plant-based Nasi Lemak while those on the carrier’s Philippines routes will be able to try vegetarian  Sisig. Additionally, from 22 July, travellers on select AirAsia’s Indonesia flights will be able to enjoy two vegan dishes — Nasi Rendang with assorted vegetables or Rendang with Coconut Rice.

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Santan, AirAsia’s catering arm, has swapped out animal protein such as beef, chicken and pork in these traditionally meat-based dishes for Green Rebel’s plant-based protein. Some notable dishes include Beefless Rendang, Chick’n Chunks, and Plant Mince.

The classic Malaysian coconut rice dish of Nasi Lemak has also been elevated with basmati and wild purple rice, served with Green Rebel Chick’n Chunks and eggplant curry, French beans and potatoes. Onion sambal, crunchy peanuts and coconut strips complete this meal.

Sisig — a popular Filipino dish of minced pork, chopped onion and chicken liver — will use Green Rebel’s Plant Mince seasoned with calamansi, onions, and chilli peppers and served with white rice and mayonnaise. The classic Indonesian dish of Rendang with coconut rice on the other hand features Green Rebel’s bestselling Beefless Rendang, while Nasi Rendang features Green Rebel Beefless Rendang served with white rice, cassava leaves, and sambal ijo which is a green chilli sambal.

In a statement, Green Rebel noted that in offering meatless renditions of these beloved Southeast Asian dishes, it was necessary that the dishes tasted as good as the original versions.  

This was made possible with Green Rebel’s proprietary food tech that mimics the mouthfeel of eating meat and is developed to work well in Asian cooking, it said, adding that rebel texturization technology helped to create a whole-cut “meat” with a fibrous texture like the real thing while rebel rmulsion — a proprietary formulation of coconut oil, water and natural vegan seasoning — acts as an animal fat replacement to achieve the distinctive taste, aroma and juiciness one associates with animal protein.

“Green Rebel is the first plant-based alt meat brand to partner with AirAsia in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia,” said Green Rebel co-founder and CEO Helga Angelina Tjahjadi. “Green Rebel and AirAsia have aligned values, in particular a commitment to sustainability and flavour localisation.”

It noted that AirAsia Group has aligned itself with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree Celsius policy to ensure that it contributes as little as possible to greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with measures including reducing 221 tonnes of CO₂ emissions per aircraft per year through a new Flight Operations optimisation solution, implemented in 2022.

This involves cutting down on meat-based products in addition to other measures. 

“We discovered that our meatless beef has 91% less global warming potential than local beef, and similarly our meatless chicken has 84 per cent less global warming potential than local chicken,” said Tjahjadi. “We are looking at savings on carbon emissions by 90%, water use by 72%, land use by 90%, and overall energy use by 81% to produce plant-based meat in comparison to animal-based meats.”

Additionally, Green Rebel noted that over the years, it has seen a rise in flexatarianism, a diet that encourages eating mostly plant-based foods while minimising meat and other animal products, particularly in Asia. "With rising affluence coupled with increasing meat consumption in Southeast Asian markets, a shift to plant protein is very much needed for us to hit our carbon budget by 2030,” said Tjahjadi.

The news comes shortly after Capital A, the holding company of airline AirAsia, launched a new entity dedicated to further enhancing the reach and impact of its AirAsia brand worldwide and has appointed a new CEO to lead it and to drive brand growth globally. 

Titled airasia brand co. (abc.), the entity will focus on the primary areas of development, including strategic brand licensing, brand collaboration and merchandising opportunities in the travel-related and lifestyle sectors, as well as content creation which will allow the brand to amplify exposure, reach wider audiences and add tremendous value to the AirAsia ecosystem.

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