The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, and the US military aren’t exactly known for getting along.
In fact, the animal rights organization has outright condemned his use of animals in training exercises, calling it “war against animals.”
But the US Coast Guard, which technically reports to the Department of Homeland Security instead of the Department of Defense, has earned a place in PETA’s heart.
Its Yorktown training facility has adopted vegan food options in its restaurants, earning it a prestigious “Proggy Award” – short for progress.
“From panna cotta to passion fruit to Beyond Bolognese, students at the US Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown feast on high-quality meals that are good for animals, the Earth and their arteries,” said Ingrid Newkirk, president. by PETA. said in a press release. “As the demand for vegan fare skyrockets, PETA looks forward to seeing every military base progress toward offering healthy, compassionate, and environmentally friendly foods.”
Yorktown launched the program during COVID-19 when vegan trainees were unable to leave base to seek alternative food sources, with Petty Officer 2nd Class Ian Swoveland, a culinary specialist, serving as the brains and hands behind these catering options.
According to Newkirk, the menu is so popular that it attracts more diners than vegan students.
“As Yorktown is one of the largest Coast Guard training centers in the nation, the success of its vegan meal program will certainly impact other locations,” the statement said.
But while the organization appreciates the efforts at Yorktown, it continues to condemn the lack of vegan options in US military restaurants and on rations.
“While there are accommodations for kosher, halal and vegetarian diets, no ready-to-eat meal is completely vegan and only four options are vegetarian,” the statement added.
PETA says many service members would like to see ready-to-eat vegetarian meals converted to vegan meals, with a link to a petition, which states“Many times the military is forced to bring their own food into the field to support themselves due to the lack of options. These personnel are always billed for MREs which are provided for by regulation.
The Ministry of Defense pays a Basic subsistence allowance to active duty members, which may be deducted for those who live full-time on facilities or are fed in the field. However, the Army does not charge service members for MREs while deployed.
Currently, the Army offers four vegetarian MRE options. In 2019, the Air Force began adding Beyond meat burgers to its dining halls, and in the same year, the Guns and Rockets dining hall at Fort Sill became the first Army facility to provide soldiers with plant-based dishes at every meal.
Observation Post is the Military Times’ one-stop-shop for everything off-duty. Stories may reflect the author’s observations.
Sarah Sicard is an editor at the Military Times. Previously, she served as digital editor of the Military Times and editor-in-chief of the Army Times. Other work can be found in National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose and Defense News.