The most vegan army in the world

10,000 IDF soldiers are vegan, including Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

Two American lone soldiers dish-up food during a Friday buffet at Piccolino restaurant in Jerusalem.  (photo credit: ILANIT CHERNICK)
Two American lone soldiers dish-up food during a Friday buffet at Piccolino restaurant in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: ILANIT CHERNICK)
Israel’s military is the most vegan army in the world, with 1 out of 18 soldiers declaring themselves as vegan, Army Radio announced on Wednesday.
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.
Among the combat battalions, the Nahal Brigade’s 50th battalion has the most vegan soldiers.
The most senior vegan officer is Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who is currently in the running to replace IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who will soon finish his term.
If Kochavi is chosen, he would become Israel’s first vegan chief of staff.
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.
IDF cooks who undergo training in preparing vegan meals are also scattered throughout bases across the country as are nutritionists who can advise them.
“At every meal, legumes such as lentils, hummus and so on are served to troops as well as tehina and even wholegrain tehina in order to be healthy,” read the statement, which added that “when a vegan soldier is in the field, they are provided with vegan meals such as sandwiches and even vegan pizzas.”
Nevertheless, earlier this year 550 vegan soldiers and officers filed a complaint to the IDF ombudsman demanding better food options, saying that what the army provides is not adequate.
According to the complaint, the IDF’s vegan menu contains little protein, and many of the meals intended to be for vegan soldiers are eaten by non-vegan soldiers, and vegan meals were also mixed with non-vegan meals, which may contain products such as eggs, milk and even meat.
“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 was quoted by Ynet News as responding to the complaint.