Veganism is on the rise in Israel. As a result, more and more soldiers reporting for duty adhere to a plant-based diet.
Now, thanks to the efforts of one reserve duty soldier, even on closed bases, vegan soldiers will have their fill.
In the summer of 2014, with the conflict between Israel and Hamas heating up, Omer Yuval was called into active service. For the next seven weeks, he remained on a closed base, where he found his vegan choices limited.
“I just had to live on salads and order food from outside the base, using my own money,” Yuval told NPR. “I really couldn’t manage. Nutrition for vegans came only from the side dishes.”
After going back home, Yuval soon realized that he is not alone. Approximately 5 percent of all IDF soldiers are now vegan and while vegan soldiers do have access to wool-free berets, leather-free boots and a food allowance, Yuval thought the army could make a few simple changes to help improve the lives of those vegans serving their country.
So he composed a letter to IDF leadership making it clear he did not want vegans to have special privileges, just access to a more balanced diet and less red tape when it comes to identifying themselves as vegan.
“This letter is not a demand or hint for easing of the military service,” Yuval’s note read. “To the contrary, this letter aims to create equal rights and opportunities to allow for the vegan soldier to maintain a lifestyle that will enable him to perform every task assigned to him and to serve the country the best he can, whether in compulsory, career or reserve service.”
As it turned out the IDF was eager to help out their vegan soldiers get the food they need to stay healthy.
An IDF spokesperson told NPR that the IDF is currently “working on creating a complete meal plan for vegan soldiers who serve on closed basis. The army also plans to introduce in the near future vitamin packs to make sure that “the soldiers receive all the necessary nutrients” while maintaining their animal product free diet on duty.