Four. That is the current number of Meals-Ready-to-Eat the military offers vegetarian service members. And while the military can technically support in-theater dietary needs of service members who eat kosher, halal and vegetarian, there aren’t any solely plant-based options for vegans … yet.
On July 14, the House of Representatives passed the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes an amendment that requires the Defense Logistics Agency to produce a report — due September 2023 — on plant-based MREs.
The study’s results are expected to include cost analysis, service member demand and an implementation plan.
“DEVCOM Soldier Center’s Combat Feeding Division is aware of the House report requirement and is working on compliance with our Defense Logistics Agency colleagues,” David Accetta, program and strategy lead for the Army Futures Command Leader Professional Development Program, said in a note to Military Times.
The report is expected to include no fewer than two plant-based meal options for troops.
“The services submit statements of need to the Combat Feeding Research and Engineering Program each year, which are used to drive innovation and research, development, test and evaluation efforts to modernize field feeding capabilities,” Accetta added. “After development, all new operational ration components are warfighter-tested and approved before being transitioned to DLA for procurement.”
There is little indication of what a plant-based MRE will look or taste like, but the Combat Feeding Division has already produced some dehydrated vegetable bars — including a spinach loaf — that pack enough greenery to turn Popeye the Sailor Man into the Incredible Hulk.
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Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.