PETA Praises Coast Guard Base for Vegan Options in Main Dining Hall
A Coast Guard training center’s revamped menu for vegans has earned praise from an animal rights group that has more often criticized the US military.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, was so impressed with the meatless meals served at the Yorktown, Va., facility that the organization made it a Proggy Award recipient.
PETA has protested for years against the military use of animals in training and exercises, and in particular during the annual Cobra Gold exercise in Thailand, where cobras were killed and Marines drank their blood during jungle survival training. The Marines ended this practice last year.
But when the group learned about the food at the Coast Guard base, it awarded an annual honor that recognizes “animal-friendly achievements” in commerce and cultivation.
Coast Guard officials expressed pride in this recognition.
“This award is the result of the hard work and dedication of the staff here at Culinary Support Activity Yorktown,” Master Chief Petty Officer Matthew Simolon, the center’s food services officer, told Stars and Stripes on Tuesday. “The specialized kitchen staff take pride in preparing a complete vegan meal.”
Dishes served include lemon and turmeric pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, bowls of jackfruit bulgogi topped with sesame seeds, and pasta Bolognese made with imitation meat.
Yorktown’s new vegan menu was introduced during the COVID-19 lockdown, when students couldn’t leave base to get their own plant-based food, PETA said Monday in a statement announcing the award.
To ensure students receive full meals in line with their dietary preferences, Culinary Specialist Petty Officer 2nd Class Ian Swoveland expanded the base’s main dining hall vegan options to what they are today, giving student cooks the chance to experiment with new dishes, PETA mentioned.
Simolon, a culinary specialist for nearly three decades, said there were about 25 vegans in the main dining room during one meal. The hall serves 400 to 600 students per day.
The number of Coast Guard members who have gone vegetarian or vegan has increased since Simolon joined the service, he said, adding that younger members tend to be particularly keen to cut meat out of their diets. .
Across the country, the number of people adhering to a vegan diet, which excludes all animal products, or a vegetarian diet, which excludes meat, is increasing.
Data released in January by Kansas State University shows that 10% of Americans follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. This is a jump from 2018, when a Gallup A poll found that only 5% of Americans identify as vegetarians and 3% as vegans.