Air New Zealand is serving the Impossible Burger, which is made from synthetic meat using wheat, coconut oil, potatoes and “magic ingredient” heme.
Compared to cows, the vegan product uses 95% less land, less water and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions, according to the company’s website.
But MP Mark Patterson, of the ruling New Zealand First Party, said the national carrier’s decision to serve the vegan burger was a “slap in the face” to the country’s $6bn red meat sector.
The burger could pose “an existential threat to New Zealand’s second biggest export earner”, he warned in a statement.
Acting PM Winston Peters added that he was “utterly opposed to fake beef”.
”Air New Zealand is an airline built by the New Zealand taxpayer, was privatised, was bailed out by the New Zealand taxpayer, and is there because of the taxpayer,” Mr Peters said.
“Some of the taxpayers are the farming industry who want to ensure they get top end of the product market offshore and our airline should be its number one marketer.”
Mr Peters has been running the country since 21 June while Prime Minister Jacinda Arden is on maternity leave.
The plant-based burger, made by American company Impossible, is offered to business-class passengers on the airline’s Los Angeles to Auckland route.
Airline New Zealand said it “makes no apology for offering innovative product choices for its customers and will continue to do so in the future”.
“Indeed, the international media coverage over the past 24 hours positioning Air New Zealand as an innovative airline and, by association, New Zealand as a desirable place to visit has been invaluable,” it added.