Vegan options for the Coast Guard

Green beans being cooked at the Coast Guard Academy

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Yorktown Training Center has embraced vegan food options in its dining facility. From passionfruit panna cotta to Beyond Bolognese, students at the training center can now delight in high-quality vegan dishes. They launched the vegan program during COVID-19, when vegan trainees were unable leave the base to seek alternative food sources, with Petty Officer 2nd Class Ian Swoveland, a culinary specialist, serving as the brains and hands behind these dining options.

The menu is so popular that it attracts more diners than just the vegan students. Since Yorktown is one of the largest Coast Guard training centers in the country, the success of its vegan meal program is sure to have an impact on other locations. We have previously reported on other military installations offering vegan options, but overall there’s a lack of vegan options across U.S. military dining facilities and in rations. Sometimes a military member is forced to bring their own food to the field to self support, due to lack of options due to a lack of vegan Meals Ready to Eat (MREs).

The Defense Department pays a Basic Allowance for Subsistence to active duty service members, which may be deducted for those living full-time on installations or being fed in the field. The military does not, however, charge service members for MREs on deployment.

While there’s still a long way to go, we note that the Air Force began adding Beyond Meat burgers to its dining halls and Fort Sill’s Guns and Rockets Dining Facility became the first Army facility to offer soldiers plant-based dishes during each meal. Step by step, more and more vegan options are becoming available to those serving in the military.