The number of vegans in Israel has exploded in recent years, leading to a growing number of vegan restaurants and advocacy groups across the nation.

Now, the IDF has announced it has joined the vegan trend.

Back in October, a group of vegan soldiers staged a protest because the mess hall offered them few options.

As a result, the IDF looked at its menu and decided to offer not only a vegan offering, but an entirely new line of healthier fare.

“It’s all going to be a lot healthier,” said Colonel Avi Harel, commander of the Food Center, the army’s food logistics arm.

Off the mess hall menu are mayonnaise laden salads and canned corn. As a replacement, more fresh fruits and vegetables will be offered.

Harel also said the cooks are learning to prepare lighter dishes.

“We’re already using far less oil in the kitchen,” Harel said, although he admitted it hasn’t been easy to make the change.

“It’s a steep learning curve for the cooks. They’ve had to learn how to cook differently.”

The Army is starting by adding vegan options to the meat-based lunch menu and will add soy-based breakfast and dinner options starting in the summer.

Nutritionist Orit Ophir pointed out that the fact the IDF is embracing the new, healthier, vegan-friendly menu is a sign the way Israelis eat has changed in recent years.

“It’s a real trend with roots,” she said of the rapid rise of veganism in Israel. “More restaurants and chains have vegan menus. Even companies like Strauss have bean salads and Tnuva has soy products, while Tivol has vegan burgers. Those are signs that it’s really strengthening.”

Harel agreed, pointing out the change is coming from the soldiers. “There’s a demand for it like there is everywhere else,” he said, adding that in addition to the 500 or so self-identified vegan soldiers, the whole Army will benefit from the healthier fare.

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Erica Terry is Managing Editor at Jspace News. She has reported on domestic and international news, Israeli politics, features and more for Jewish publications in New York, Miami and London.