A US army dining facility has become the first of its kind to offer troops a vegan entrée at every meal time.
The Guns and Rockets Dining Facility in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, added the new options to its menu after a soldier requested more plant-based dishes, according to military outlet Stars and Stripes, who spoke to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Patterson, a food adviser for the 75th Artillery Brigade.
"We began testing items in February 2018 and were fully operational with labeling and an option at every meal by July of 2018," Patterson told the outlet. "Now, we sell out of the plant-based entrée at every meal.
"We didn't change the menu. We just substitute the meat within the dish. Instead of chicken enchiladas on Taco Tuesday we use black beans, and instead of beef stir fry, we use tofu. We are not reinventing the wheel with recipes. We are just taking the recipe and substituting some ingredients."
Veganism is growing
The launch of the new dishes corresponds to growing appetite for vegan-friendly food in the US, with the retail sector in seeing a surge when it comes to demand for plant-based alternatives, with leading business and food expert and Executive Director of the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) Michele Simon branding vegan food 'fully mainstream'.
Data from Nielson, published last year, showed the plant-based foods industry experienced dollar sales growth of 20 percent between 2017 and 2018, with sales topping $3.3 billion.
Talking about the data, Simon said: "The plant-based foods industry has gone from being a relatively niche market to fully mainstream.
"Plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are not just for vegetarians or vegans anymore; now even mainstream consumers are enjoying these delicious and innovative options in the market today. The new data confirms what we are hearing and seeing every day from our members: sales are up, investment is increasing, and new jobs are being created in the plant-based foods industry."