The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is giving its employees a day off to attend a vegan conference organised by its internal MoD Vegan and Vegetarian Network, which supports initiatives to reduce animal products in the department, such as replacing leather boots with vegan versions. The conference will be held at an RAF base and will include talks, stalls, and a dining-in night. 

Sophie Foxen, chairwoman of the Vegan and Vegetarian Network at the Ministry of Defence, said to The Telegraph, “Some people are surprised that I’m in the military and I’m vegan. I believe well-thought-out principles are fundamental to being a force for good. If we do not strive for a more ethical world, what are we fighting for?”

Based on the Ministry of Defence site in St Athan, Wales, the MoD Vegan and Vegetarian 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 dressing. 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 was in 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 have also been organised, and now the vegan conference. It would be interesting to see if this Network could help to replace the King’s Guards’ bearskin caps with a vegan fur alternative, something that animal rights groups have been calling for a long time (there has been even legal action taken about it).

“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’.