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It’s a mark of just how far the cruise industry has come along the road to meet consumer trends. Ships once renowned for groaning buffet tables and all-you-can-eat dining rooms are now promising healthy eating and introducing the concept that less really is more.

And, in the week where vegan crusaders stole the headlines across Australia, Oceania – whose proud boast is serving “the finest cuisine at sea” – announced an astonishing range of “plant-based” dishes designed to tickle the taste buds of those who prefer to eschew meat and animal products altogether.

Plant-based foods? Are veggies taking over the favoured space once occupied by surf and turf among cruisers? We will soon see.

Oceania Cruises' vegan menu

One of 200 dishes Oceania claims can improve your ‘wellness’

Certainly almost every cruise line has now embraced the move to healthier eating, and most offer vegetarian or vegan alternatives on their menus. It has seen one of the biggest changes in the galleys at sea in the past five years.

Oceania has partnered with world-renowned chef, culinary instructor and author, Christophe Berg, to put together this new menu of 200 dishes that claim they can improve your ‘wellness’ and provide balance to the line’s fame culinary delights.

“Plant-based cuisine is the craft of preparing dishes using 100% plant-based ingredients,” Chef Berg explains in an essay.

“It is about enjoying colourful, healthy and tasty plant-based cuisine without associating it necessarily with the animal liberation movement.”

“There’s a perception that many people undertake cruises to overindulge on sumptuous foods and laze on a lawn chair all day with a Pina Colada in hand, however this simply isn’t true. Many of our guests actually come on board to lose weight or improve their health and fitness,” says Oceania Cruises.

“We would want to ensure everyone, no matter their dietary requirements or fitness goals, can savour our culinary expertise.”

The new healthy menu selections on Oceania will be offered at all main meals in The Grand Dining Room and Terrace Café, as well as available upon request during dinner service in each of the specialty restaurants.

“These new plant-based options are flavourful, colourful, bold, and creative. Our hallmark finest cuisine at sea now provides an innovative and appealing menu of choices that reflects our guests’ evolving palates and heightened focus on wellness while balancing our more decadent and extravagant dishes,” says Bob Binder, President & CEO of Oceania Cruises and a well-known foodie.

“Plant-Based meals are suitable for vegan people, plant eaters, vegetarians, flexitarians as well as any omnivorous eater looking for a different culinary experience,” explains Chef Berg.

So basically you get to enjoy healthy food (i.e lactose and cholesterol free, low in saturated fats and refined ingredients) without getting political about it.

You can also find vegan and vegetarian menus on other lines but Oceania’s plant-based menu is the latest update in the culinary space for non-meat eaters at sea.

The menu is currently available on Riviera and will offered across their fleet by August this year.

The best cruise lines for vegans and vegetarians

Chef Berg’s international experience brings a range of cuisines to the menu, including Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, Italian, Malaysian, and more.

And it’s not just salads on the menu. There are healthy Power Bowls and Poke Bowls, hearty pastas and pad Thai, light and refreshing salads and soups and even decadent items like an Impossible Cheeseburger, Truffle Mac and Cheese.

They even have a selection of desserts in the menu, such as an Apple-Oatmeal Crumble with plant-based Vanilla Ice Cream and Coco-Vanilla Cashew Crème Brûlée.

“Our vegan menus, like our other non-plant-based menus, are the finest at sea because we select only the best ingredients and the most talented chefs from around the globe,” says Oceania Cruises.

Ironically, Norwegian Cruise Line’s stable mate Regent Seven Seas also issued a new set of menu options. If you wished to see what a classic luxury cruise line has on offer, Regent’s menu is designed to make you lick your lips.

Look out for new offerings at Compass Rose, Pacific Rim, La Veranda, Chartreuse and Prime 7 from February 2020 on the Seven Seas Splendor.

To give you an idea, Compass Rose, the largest specialty restaurant on board will be introducing dishes such as Malaysian-Style Braised Beef Short Rib with a flavourful Curry Sauce and Jasmine Rice; Paddlefish Caviar, served with Smoked Haddock Jelly and Lemon Cream.

La Veranda

Look out for new offerings at La Veranda from February 2020 on the Seven Seas Splendor

The chic Parisian fine dining, Chartreuse, will be serving up Frog Legs in Garlic Cream Sauce with Rutabaga or relish the tender Veal Rack Loin with Caramelised Endive, Grape Chutney and the earthy tones of a Walnut Veal Jus Sauce.

Prime 7, the line’s steakhouse will be bringing it with Applewood Smoked Salmon Steak, with Asparagus, Tamarind-Whiskey Sauce; Seared Diver Scallop and Cured Pork Belly Confit with Orange Pomegranate Sauce; and Hamachi Ceviche.

Here is a range of the dishes on offer from both lines. Which would you choose?

Vegan Menu Highlights on Oceania

Vegan poke bowl, Oceania Cruises

Hawaiian Poke Bowl

Persian power bowl, Oceania Cruises

Persian Power Bowl

Som Tam Green Papaya Kelp Noodle Salad

Som Tam Green Papaya Kelp Noodle Salad

Cashew Mushrooms Kelp Noodle Salad

Cashew Mushrooms Kelp Noodle Salad

Vegan Cheese Burger

Impossible Cheese Burger

Mango Coconut Rice

Mango Coconut Rice

Summer Berry Pudding

Summer Berry Pudding

Menu Highlights on Regent Seven Seas

Compass Rose

Chateaubriand, Red Wine Grain Mustard Sauce

Chateaubriand, Red Wine Grain Mustard Sauce

Paddlefish Caviar, Smoked Haddock Jelly, Lemon Cream

Paddlefish Caviar, Smoked Haddock Jelly, Lemon Cream

Malaysian-Style Braised Beef Short Rib, Curry Sauce, Jasmine Rice

Malaysian-Style Braised Beef Short Rib, Curry Sauce, Jasmine Rice

Grilled Branzino, Cauliflower Rice, Barley, Spinach, Pomegranate

Grilled Branzino, Cauliflower Rice, Barley, Spinach, Pomegranate

Pacific Rim

Duck Spring Roll

Duck Spring Roll

Thai Red Chicken Curry, Coconut Cream, Crispy Shallot

Thai Red Chicken Curry, Coconut Cream, Crispy Shallot

Chartreuse

Veal Rack Loin, Caramelised Endive, Grape Chutney, Walnut Veal Jus Sauce

Veal Rack Loin, Caramelised Endive, Grape Chutney, Walnut Veal Jus Sauce

Prime 7

Seared Diver Scallop, Cured Pork Belly Confit, Orange Pomegranate Sauce

Seared Diver Scallop, Cured Pork Belly Confit, Orange Pomegranate Sauce