For many people in Israel, veganism is not just another fashionable trend, but a way of life. Some aerial teams around the force feel the same way and have decided to exclude milk, eggs and meat from their daily diet. The nutrition from this diet has been known to affect the pilot’s performance in the cockpit. Is there anything to worry about?
More and more people around the world are choosing to exclude certain foods from their diet for one whole day during the week, and some have even begun changing their ways entirely by consuming environment friendly foods: The omelets and Israeli fried chicken have been replaced with quinoa and tofu. A different way of life is starting to grow on many Israeli people: some are IAF aerial team members. Though, the IAF has a different perspective on the new diet. Good nutrition is necessary for the correct function of the pilots and now, the IAF has to reconcile the new way of life with an aerial team member’s nutrition.
A Vegan Meal in the base
Captain N’, a combat pilot in the “Defenders of the South” Squadron and an instructor in the IAF Aviation Academy, decided to make a change six months ago. “Six months before I became a vegan, my girlfriend became a vegan and it got me thinking about the subject”, says N’. “I chose to make the change out of ideological beliefs and though it seemed very difficult at first, I now realize that it’s very possible.
Living this sort of lifestyle as an aerial team member is not a simple task; aerial team members have to know how to take care of their needs alone. “While I’m at home it’s very convenient because I have everything I need”, he explains. “It becomes an issue when I spend my entire day at the squadron, and as a vegan I have to take care of my ‘special’ needs: I bring a bag of almonds, raisons, and dates from home alongside homemade food”.
“We are always alert”
Alongside the private ideologies of aerial team members, stands their health, which affects the entire function of the force. “Nowadays, we know that veganism, when managed properly, is very healthy for our bodies”, says Sivan Abott Barkan, an aerial team member nutrition consultant in the aerial medicine squadron. “When you become a vegan, you have to provide you body with other substances”.
The IAF medical formation is responsible for all aerial team members’ health and is closely following the new vegan life style that some have adopted. Some might need to conduct other annual medical exams in order detect anemia. “Lack of Iron, Folic Acid or B-12 can cause anemia”, explains Barkan. “This sort of state can hurt their vigilance and it’s also one of the causes of aerial accidents. Extra exams are a great necessity for aerial team members who decide to change their nutrition, because we can find problematic areas and be alerted beforehand”.