Finnish army on the meat free march

Garrison canteens up their veggie offerings to combat climate change

Finnish lake and forest scene

If it’s true that an army marches on its stomach, then Finland’s troops look set to be travelling further than ever before. Taking the battle against climate change seriously, the country’s armed forces are to eat more meat free meals.

From this autumn, garrison canteens across Finland will be adding increased nutrition and flavour to the army’s culinary arsenal by serving at least two meat free meals a week. The meals, provided by food company Leijona Catering, will be high in carbs to keep soldiers’ energy levels up, with soya and quorn used as meat alternatives. The move towards a more plant-based diet is an attempt to lower the army’s carbon footprint and boost the health of the armed forces.

Major Eija Pulkki, canteen services manager of Finland’s Defence Forces, said menus would be updated to include two fully vegetarian meals a week, for either lunch or dinner. While the army is already among the world’s most enlightened – soldiers who do enjoy green eating are well looked after, with veggie and vegan meals prepared when requested – this is the first time meat free meals have been rolled out for all. It is hopefully a step towards fully meat free days; while that idea was given its marching orders by army caterers when it was mooted last year, it will hopefully become more likely as soldiers get a taste for veggie food.

While the numbers of meat free eaters in the army is low, young people across Finland are increasingly interested in diets that do not cost the planet. Data analyst Statistics Finland found that in 2016 one in five people aged 15-24 had stopped eating meat.

Finland is not the first Nordic country to introduce meat free days: that honour goes to Norway, which joined MFM in 2013 in a move designed to reduce its carbon emissions. Cutting meat from Norwegian squaddies’ diets for one day a week has reduced consumption by 150 tonnes a year.