22'd IDF Chief Aviv Kochavi .
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The IDF is going to have to get used to his leadership style, but new chief of general staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi is already causing a change in the executive kitchen. Kochavi is the IDF’s first vegetarian chief of staff and the normally meat-heavy selections at the mess hall will undoubtedly expand even further than they already have in recent years to accommodate the new boss’s palate.
Last year statistics were released stating that 1 out of 18 soldiers declared themselves as vegan. According to the report, the number of vegans in the IDF has increased 20-fold in the past three years, with the majority serving in the Intelligence Corps, the Kirya military headquarters and in support roles.
Veganism has surged in Israel in recent years with between 2% and 5% of Israelis choosing to forgo meat, dairy and egg products, and according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, 10,000 vegans currently serve in the military.
The IDF first began to accommodate vegan soldiers in 2014 by introducing leather-free combat boots and wool-free berets and granting soldiers who register as vegan an allowance to buy their own meals rather than eat the typical meat-based meals served on bases.
The next year the IDF introduced vegan rations into its menu in army mess halls and in 2017 it introduced vegan rations for combat soldiers.
According to a statement provided to The Jerusalem Post by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, vegan soldiers are provided with a wide range of vegan foods such as soy-based drinks and desserts, cheese and egg substitutes, soy flakes and soybeans, as well as tofu and vegan schnitzels.
“The IDF attaches great importance to providing a suitable response to the entire population serving in the army, including the vegan population,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.
Anna Aronheim contributed to this report.
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