The IDF Central Food Technology and Logistics Division recently completed the development of the first Vegan combat rations, following years during which Vegan soldiers have had to settle for a portion of the military issue meal, mainly corn preserves, olives and peanuts. While Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry, Vegans, in addition, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.
Back in 2013, two members of the Israeli animal rights organization Anonymous approached the military prosecutor’s office asking to absolve Vegan soldiers from wearing leather shoes during their service, on conscientious grounds, since making leather shoes involves the “cruel murder of animals.” Apparently, they could not tolerate the thought of killing people while wearing shoes made from killed animals. Since then, the IDF has been supplying declared Vegan soldiers with non-leather shoes.
Also in 2013, the IDF has begun to supply Vegan berets, made from synthetic material, to soldiers who asked for them. Currently the inoffensive berets are available only in green (for the infantry) and black (for the armored troops). Paratroopers (red berets) are still required to wear head cover made from the sheared coats of innocent barnyard animals.
Vegan soldiers are encouraged to file their complaints with the military ombudsman by fax or email, whenever their military assignments clash with their core Vegan beliefs.
The new combat rations are due to reach over the next few months the 600 or so declared Vegans currently serving. The promised rations will include raw tehini, bernflex, energy bar, natural almonds, walnuts, dried fruits, roasted peas and chickpeas, peanuts, and preserved beans. One ration should last one soldier two weeks or two soldiers one week, provided they trust each other.
The IDF HR insists that new recruits declare their Vegan status upon enlisting, otherwise they must wait six months before they can be granted Vegan status. The reason is economic, since the army spends much more on the preparation of Vegan food at the military bases and on the rations than it does on normal food. According to the Central Food Technology and Logistics Division, everybody enjoys the Vegan delicacies: last year they budgeted about $80,000 to purchase Vegan goodies for the general military population, but the stuff was consumed in a single quarter and the budget had to be increased.
In 2013 there was a wave of protests regarding the sandwiches IDF soldiers were given on field trips. There were Facebook pages dedicated to the fact that Vegans had to work their way around the cold cuts in their food supplies, there were online petitions, and the military ombudsman was bombarded with complaints, both by fax and email. So now every base kitchen is equipped to provide healthy, nutritious and cruelty-free sandwiches to Israel’s heroes.