There isn’t much extra information to put here but you pretty much get the same options as you did for A and C schools. Given your barracks could be on the same base as another A or C school. Different galley’s may serve slightly different things. For instance, at the base I’m currently at they have fruit salad for lunch during the week that’s great. However for dinner and on weekends they don’t make it but they do always serve oranges/apples/bananas. Bananas aren’t always ripe. They also have one of those mini fridges with desserts and assorted fruits like half grapefruits, grapes, mini fruit dishes, and desserts. Surprisingly they even have had a couple vegan salad dressings, literally said vegan on the packaging. Not sure if this is coincidence. They have put out soymilk drink boxes before too. As for cooked food I don’t dabble into that too much because I hate oil although I do have dishes that contain it sometimes, I’m still not a fan. There is usually always some cooked veggies and an occasional white rice or baked potato. There is also cream of wheat, oatmeal, or grits in the mornings. I haven’t asked about the wheat or grits but when I asked about the oats they are prepared plain with water. I’m not sure if the potatoes are baked with butter or oil and when the rice is seasoned I don’t bother getting it either as there could be animal broth or dairy in it. You can easily purchase stuff off base to store and cook in your room which is what I do. I also like to use the galley to supplement my meals with salads since it’s being deducted from my check anyways. If your lucky you can get a BAS chit so the food allowance doesn’t get automatically deducted for galley use.
If your married you will be able to get your own place in town with BAH. If your not married you go to the barracks unless you are E-5 and above. In that case you will be able to get BAH and get your own place.
On the base itself there is a food place connected to the recreation center. There is also a subway. Some bases may have more options like starbucks, taco bell, etc. But even then your still looking at limited unhealthy options. So your best bet is to supplement your diet by getting foods like rice, potatoes, oats, and beans out in town or push to get that BAS chit.
Depending on what contract or rate you’ve signed up for determines whether you go to just “A” school or both “A” and “C” school. Food can be dealt with easier here unless you are in a special forces rate where things may be a little more strict.
Because I dropped from a special forces rate to regular rate I have a little experience from special forces but mostly from a regular rate. In a special forces rate, at least the one I was involved in, you did not have a mini fridge, microwave, and weren’t allowed to store food. The galley there was somewhat okay. As usual with most galleys outside of boot camp they had oranges and sometimes ripe bananas. They also sometimes had baked potatoes, although i’m not sure if they baked them with butter or oil over them, a ridiculous thing to do. They also had pasta a lot along side the salad bar but even that sat in a tub of oil. So the options were there, I’m just not a fan oil laden foods. They had white rice with a little oil as well every now and then. The servers were particularly nice there as they recognized I wasn’t eating animal products and allowed me to have more rice sometimes than anyone else.
Despite decent options here, because I was still fairly new to veganism, and being in a special forces rate exercising quite often it led to hunger binges. I ended up experimenting with some vegetarian options and junk foods a few times which I completely regret as they were unnecessary, didn’t taste as good as they used to, and made me feel bad. For better options I sometimes ordered out which was a bit costly. I’d order rice sometimes from a local Chinese take out or plain baked potatoes from a local restaurant that sold them.
What I would do if I were back in that situation now I would make best use with what options I had. Knowing now that I don’t have to stuff myself beyond belief to get enough energy to perform well, I would stick with the oranges and/or whatever fruit was available for breakfast, maybe have some rice or potatoes (omitting the skin) with salad for lunch, and for dinner same thing, if not, more oranges/mixed fruit and salad. If I felt the need, maybe order the rice or plain baked potatoes later that night but I wouldn’t try to let it be a regular thing as it becomes expensive.
Now, onto regular rates which are quite easier. In your barracks room you get a mini fridge/freezer and a microwave. I’m not sure if it’s still shared with a roommate but it might. The galleys are pretty similar although they may be a little different depending on what base your on. Also depending where you are in relation to the commissary or local grocery store it could be close or a little distant. They usually don’t allow hot plates or rice cookers but if you have enough space to keep it locked up and are smart about it, it shouldn’t be much a problem. But for this I bought a microwave rice cooker bowl. These work great. I also would buy potatoes and sweet potatoes. At times I would also buy lots of dates which can get pricey though. Whatever plant-based foods you enjoy you will most likely be able to cook in the microwave or semi-supplement your diet between what you have at the barracks and the galley. Thinking back to “A”/”C” school I probably wouldn’t change much here as a lived pretty comfortably following a vegan diet. There were also some vegan restaurants out in town I started exploring and enjoying from time to time.
Our first thoughts when we think of boot camp from a civilian perspective are strict, lots of rules, lots of pushups and drills. After having gone though it, it was much different than I expected. Now my experience may be quite different from others as I’m in the Navy and each branch has their own separate boot camp. But perhaps there may be some general similarities. I could not believe how much they stressed folding and stowing clothes as their main way of teaching attention to detail. I’m absolutely horrible at it so it was a struggle on that and marching for me. Yes, there was a lot of marching too. Not as much beat downs and pushups as the theaters portray, at least not nowadays.
Instead of rambling about my boot camp experience let’s get to the important stuff that effects veganism. First and foremost there are some contradictions to veganism that if you’re considering joining you have to make as they are mandatory and you have no choice. Some of the uniforms contain wool and it’s required that you buy and wear them. Boots and shoes are leather as well. I’ve looked online to see if they have some synthetic ones to buy but I haven’t had any luck. If anyone does find some please let me know! The shoe shine kit that you are required to purchase and use as well contains horse hair for the brush. You are also required to get multiple shots/vaccines that also may contain animal products. I don’t know the specifics on those but I know the flu vaccines contain eggs for some reason or another. Jeez, all these animal products and we haven’t even gotten to the food yet! Just the thought of all that would put me off to joining if I knew all that before hand and was as into the lifestyle as I am today before I joined.
On to the brighter side of things! The galley for Navy boot camp has a good amount of vegan options! They usually serve fruit every morning at their salad bar area after the hot food. I can’t remember if they had potatoes or hash browns each day but usually those may be vegan unless cooked with butter but I tend to stay away from oil drenched food as it’s unhealthy. They also usually have bananas (not always ripe), oatmeal packets, and grits packets every meal. Because your usually limited on the amount of time you can eat it may be best to skip the hot food line if you can and go straight to the salad bar area (this is also where the bananas, grits, and oatmeal packets are located). Usually lunch and dinner they always have salad, vegetables, and some mixed fruit at the end. If I was back there with all I know now I would have done things a little differently. I tried some vegetarian items, meaning foods with eggs, cheese, butter, and/or milk a couple times and was disappointed and felt bad doing so each time. I also ate a lunch meat turkey sandwich once, can’t remember if it had cheese or not, at one point because I thought I wasn’t going to get enough food to eat for the day being as it was in the so called P Days (processing days), getting a lot of medical work done.
Thinking about those things, I still feel bad about them to this day as they were not necessary and I got plenty to eat. I was also still new to veganism being only a few months vegan at the time. I also had a lot of oats and grits but filled each bowl with nearly half sugar, another thing I would HIGHLY advise against as doing so is not healthy and also the sugar may be filtered with bone char like some companies have been doing. Again another mistake I made thinking I wasn’t going to get in enough calories. I also may have had sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) a bit too much at times. Despite being mostly vegan I ended up leaving boot camp with a little extra weight, so if you think your not going to get enough food just don’t because there’s plenty. My recommendation and/or what I would do if I went back there would be to stick to a whole food plant based diet mainly starch based. I typically love fruit and you can have some fruits don’t get me wrong but you do not want to overhydrate yourself by any means possible as there will be times where it seems you’ve been marching forever and you have to pee insanely bad but can’t do anything about it. So that means in the morning having oatmeal or grits with mixed fruit. Lunch and dinner the same but with salad and vegetables. Don’t add sugar or oil dressings, use a lemon or lime, maybe a little salt or vinegar if they have it. Don’t go too crazy with vegetables either as you’ll get really gassy like I did. Stick to that plan and you’ll be fine. How many packets of grits and/or oats you use is up to you and however much you need to satisfy. I don’t recommend the rice as sometimes rice mixes which they might use may contain animal broth. They’re usually always cooked with oil as well unfortunately.
Sometimes you will be stuck at a medical building or somewhere else where you will get comrats (commuted rations), basically a brown paper bag with maybe a fruit, carrots, chips, and a sandwich. I’m not totally sure what they’ll put in it but stick with the fruit, carrots, and maybe take the bread off the sandwich and eat it if you feel the need. Bread is always a risk because you can never be too sure if they put milk or honey in it but most of the time I think it’s vegan. You can also always try to trade with other recruits for more fruit or carrots as someone will always want a second sandwich. As new food initiatives for more whole grains are being pushed, things may get a little better next year. Only time will tell.
Browsing through the Web looking to see if there were other vegans in the military and if it was possible to make it through boot camp and still follow a vegan lifestyle while in, I noticed a couple stories that were pretty interesting but not much information on specifics, no active blog posts, or someone to contact for questions easily and openly. After much thought on how I wanted to go about this through youtube, personal blog, etc. I’ve decided to create this anonymous blog as I wish not to expose my personal life but to provide as much insight and support to the vegan community I can about how it’s possible to be vegan in the military and provide blogs about certain situations I’ve been in, how I deal with them, and provide sort of an open forum. Please feel free to contact me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org .