British soldiers are demanding the armed forces to introduce vegan uniforms that fall in line with their dietary requirements. The report comes amid the outbreak of war in Europe as Russia invades Ukraine.
As detailed by the Telegraph, the newly-formed group in the British Army called The Ministry of Defence Vegan and Vegetarian Network has launched a campaign to institute a new set of policies to empower vegans and vegetarians who enlisted in the armed forces.
According to Harper's Bazaar, vegan leather may be worse for the environment than real leather due to its lack of biodegradability, and use of plastic polymers.
The synthetic materials are always less durable than natural resources, and organic alternatives like pineapple leaves, cork, and so on do not contain the same durable properties as the genuine leather used in military combat equipment.
Furthermore, firearms, combat gear, and uniforms are cheaper to produce when made in bulk and made of similar materials. The introduction of vegan alternatives is not only unfeasible in some instances, especially where plastics and animal hides are required for manufacture – but are also expensive.
One of the policies proposed by the vegan group is for personnel to wear vegetarian footwear not made from real leather. The move comes after a helicopter technician objected to wearing leather boots in 2019, prompting the Royal Air Force to consider amending its policy.
The Telegraph reports that the Ministry of Defence remains “open-minded” about military equipment, as long as it is both safe and maintains high standards as regular equipment.
Established from MoD St Athan, in Wales, the network connects vegans and vegetarians across the three services to support and educate each other with new ideas and policies.
One of the network's founding members, who represents the RAF in rowing, told Forces News that he originally went vegan for “ethical reasons”, and then realised “the huge environmental benefits that going vegan has”.
The publication says that the military has previously pandered to vegans through the Army EATs campaign, which conducted research into the packed lunches that soldiers prefer while traveling and started to implement more vegetarian items on the menu at the soldier’s barracks.
“The younger generation of soldiers today are savvy and smarter about what they are eating,” said a source in the Ministry of Defence. “Lifestyles change and food choices change too. People today are hugely more aware of healthy eating.”
Indeed, the move to expand the military’s inclusivity to veterans is part of a broader effort by proponents of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI) to revise military thinking to reflect trends “relevant to our soldiers in the 21st-century.”