A poll has found that 81 percent of serving US military personnel want access to plant-based foods. Currently, there is no provision for vegan Meals, Ready to Eat (MRE). Only meat-based and vegetarian options are available in the form of field rations.
Animal rights activist group Mercy for Animals conducted the survey. It quizzed 226 servicepeople, across all branches of the US military and ranks, about their food preferences.
More than 58 percent of participants identified as omnivores, but more than 23 percent were looking to reduce their animal product intake. Flexitarians came in at 5.3 percent, vegetarians at 7.5 percent, and vegans at 3.5 percent. Pescatarians were the smallest demographic, reeling in just 1.8 percent.
Vegan military food will be chosen when offered
Dietary identification aside, a preference for sustainable foods is clear. Seventy percent of respondents select climate-friendly foods when available.
Awareness of the health benefits of plant-based options is also clear: More than half (52 percent) of servicepeople either agreed or strongly agreed that plant-based foods are healthier than their animal-based counterparts. A similar amount (51 percent) agreed that they offer better energy levels.
Plant-based foods are considered by a majority of survey participants to be more sustainable than animal-derived alternatives. The poll also found that most people (69 percent) recognize others in their social circles are trying more vegan foods than before.
“Our research suggests service members are aware of the nutritional and environmental impact of their food choices,” Dr. Courtney L. Dillard, MFA’s social change researcher and the study’s lead researcher, commented about the findings.
She added: “As the US military continues to seek ways to best support the overall health and diverse needs of its loyal service members, we’re calling on lawmakers to require all branches of the military to provide plant-based MRE options.”
The South Korean Defense Ministry made similar provisions last year. It offers vegetarian and vegan meals now, to accommodate Muslim sign-ups.
Plants over meat in the field
More than 80 percent of military staff want to see more vegan food options and would choose a sustainable option if offered one. Tellingly, 63 percent of all participating personnel said they would choose a plant-based MRE, over meat alternatives.
The majority (70 percent) believe current MREs are nutritionally adequate. Around half say there is a variety to suit a wide range of diets, but 69 percent state there should be more plant-based MREs readily available.
As it stands, 83 percent of MREs are meat-based. Seventeen percent are suitable for vegetarians and there are no fully vegan US military meal options as yet.