An Air Crew member must eat well and sleep comfortably in order to complete his missions to the best of his abilities. In appreciation of International Vegan Day, the IAF website checked if air crews are also capable of being vegan and what one must do in order to maintain a vegan lifestyle in the air and on the ground?
Shahar Zorani | Translation: Ofri Aharon & Ohad Zeltzer Zubida
It’s Possible to Combine a Vegan Lifestyle with Flight
Living a vegan lifestyle has drifted away from the fringes of society and has become part of the mainstream and much more than a passing trend. In appreciation of today’s International Vegan Day, the IAF website went out to check: is it possible to maintain a vegan lifestyle while watching over the sky?
The main purpose: not to harm myself
Maj. Elad, Head of Combat Training in the IAF Headquarters and a weapon system operator shares that his vegan lifestyle does not affect his role in the air, quite the opposite. “My wife became a vegetarian a year ago with the purpose of becoming vegan. We began cooking vegan food at home and we spent a lot of time together discussing veganism, and overtime I became vegan”, he shares. “Protecting the environment is very important to me. I believe that everyone has to make a decision and consider what he can do in order to make the world a little better than it was before”.
It may seem as if maintaining a vegan lifestyle demands many resources and complicated preparations. In addition to changing his diet, Maj. Elad changed his menu, but this change did not demand a lot of attention. “My menu did not completely change. I simply added more beans, vegetables and fruits. I discovered foods that I was previously unfamiliar with such as spirulina and other green leaves”.
Maj. Elad and other vegans alike continue to function normally and fulfill their duties, despite the challenges. “In the squadron it’s very challenging, but I eat before flying and bring food from home. My main goal when becoming vegan was not to harm myself. I took a few tests and found out that I was healthier than before. I feel better and more alert”.
Being Healthy and Maintaining a Routine
In the IDF in general and in the IAF specifically, a proper arrangement is required for the significant number of vegan soldiers serving in all units, from the combat division to other divisions. “The IDF is much more aware of veganism and is organizing accordingly”, shares Nufar Meiri, a Nutritionist in the Aerial Medical Unit. “Lately, a vegan meal has been installed in the dining room and in 2016, several more vegan dishes are expected to be added to the military menu”.
As a part of the unique lifestyle, vegans do not consume any kind of animal products: meat, eggs and dairy. “Aircrew members are more aware. They prepare their food and frequently have their blood tested”, explains Meiri. “The largest struggle is in Flight School. The aviation cadet seldom goes home, so it’s tougher to prepare suitable food and to maintain a vegan lifestyle, but for those dedicated and driven enough, it is possible”.
The Aerial Medical Unit indicates that integrating the two is not a problem. “As long as the nutrition is balanced and there are no negative influences. It’s important to uphold a set routine and balance carbohydrates, protein and fats”, says Meiri.