Want Some Jackfruit Bulgogi? The Coast Guard Just Nabbed a PETA Award for Its Dining Options

Michael Leavitt eats with Coast Guard personnel.
Then Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt eats with Coast Guard personnel, Oct 13, 2011. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley)

Lemon-turmeric pasta with sundried tomatoes and pistachios; creamy carrot ginger soup; jackfruit bulgogi bowls topped with fresh herbs and sesame seeds. These mouth-watering dishes are only some of the savory, animal-free options now available at one of the country's largest Coast Guard training installations.

The Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown in Virginia is being awarded for the elevated vegan meal options from its main dining hall by the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, the organization announced Monday.

PETA's annual prize to recognize animal welfare champions, the Proggy Award, is on its way to the installation now, a press release added. The advocacy organization hopes this accolade will mark a step forward for other military bases to quickly follow suit and provide troops with greater food accommodation.

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"From passionfruit panna cotta to Beyond Bolognese, students at U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown delight in high-quality dishes that are kind to animals, the Earth, and their arteries," says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in the statement. "As demand for vegan fare skyrockets, PETA looks forward to seeing every military base progress to offering healthy, compassionate, and eco-friendly foods."

Training Center Yorktown's main dining hall feeds roughly 400 to 500 students a day. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the installation began its vegan meal program as a means to create inclusive dining options for students who could no longer leave the base. At one point, only about 10% of the base kept vegan, but now the ever-changing vegan menu has grown so popular that many non-vegan students are choosing the creative options.

The idea for expanding the animal-friendly alternatives came from Petty Officer 2nd Class Ian Swoveland, a culinary specialist and graduate of the Culinary Institute of Virginia in Norfolk who came to Training Center Yorktown in 2017.

Training Center Yorktown is not the first military installation to receive praise from PETA. In 2019, the group highlighted the Guns and Rockets dining facility at the Army's Fort Sill in Oklahoma for offering troops vegan options at every meal.

Troops across the military can be accommodated for kosher, halal and vegetarian diets, but advocacy groups like PETA are pushing for including vegan "meals, ready to eat" options for service members in the field.

-- Jonathan Lehrfeld is a fellow at Military.com. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media.

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