Service members will soon see a new plant-based dish in military dining facilities across the country. A sweet potato and black bean burrito recipe developed by the HSUS was recently approved by the Department of Defense’s food service team, which greenlights recipes that meet stringent nutrition requirements. The approval represents a trend toward offering healthier meals in the military, says Stefanie Heath, HSUS food and nutrition specialist. “The Army is battling—across the board—literally billions of dollars in terms of healthcare costs for soldiers,” she says, and it had started to implement a “Go for Green” initiative before partnering with the HSUS Forward Food program. Incorporating more plant-based options like the burritos helps soldiers opt for healthier, more nutritious food.

2,000 chefs trained and 10.3 million animal lives saved thanks to the Forward Food program

The HSUS Forward Food program helps universities, K-12 school districts, hospitals and other institutions add healthy plant-based meals to their menus. Through the DOD collaboration, HSUS chefs have run animal-friendly culinary trainings on four bases and at a military hospital, and they’re rolling out trainings at Fort Lee, an Army base in Virginia where military chefs take courses. “Chefs who complete the culinary course will return to their respective bases trained in plant-based cooking,” says Heath. 

The response has been positive so far: In a taste test of lasagna and tacos made with a plant-based meat substitute, 90 percent of soldiers reviewed the dishes positively. Heath says the results align with a trend the Forward Food team sees everywhere: “As long as it tastes good, they’ll eat it.” 

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