The Ministry of Defence Vegan and Vegetarian Network, a new organisation in the UK, is calling for changes in policies in the arm forces to allow vegans to serve in the military without having to transgress their beliefs. For instance, be allowed to wear vegan boots with no leather. 

Based on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) site in St Athan, Wales, this Network connects vegans and vegetarians across the three British arm services to support and educate each other with new ideas and policies. Since a 2019 case when an RAF helicopter technician objected to wearing leather boots, the ministry has been looking at amending its military policy on dress. Now that since 2020 ethical veganism has been legally accepted as a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010, the review of these types of policies has become necessary.

The first Annual General Meeting of the Network is planned for April 2022, to promote and celebrate the Network with members and some external vegan-friendly parties.  Other events, such as health and wellbeing fairs, speakers, and visits are also being organised. 

Ben, one of the founders of the Network, said: “I’ve always loved animals, but since joining the RAF many years ago, I just never thought it would be possible to be vegan in the military, especially when on deployment.  But times have changed and now it’s so much easier.”

According to the Telegraph, commenting on a 2021 research about the packed lunches soldiers would prefer, a defence source said: “The younger generation of soldiers today are savvy and smarter about what they are eating…Lifestyles change and food choices change too. People today are hugely more aware of healthy eating.” Lt Gen Richard Nugee, who in 2020 conducted an internal climate change and sustainability review, told The Telegraph he had reduced his meat consumption by 80 per cent. Health and environment are two of the gateways to veganism, but animal rights is the main one, so ethical vegans in the army concerned about animals would be as uncomfortable having to eat animal products as having to wear leather. Now that they have equality laws on their site it’s good they are getting organised. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.