Armed Forces chefs help animals and combat climate change by embracing more vegan cooking

British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force chef instructors tried their hands at creating plant-based meals in a culinary masterclass held by Humane Society International/UK, Veganuary and Plant Futures

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


LONDON—Military chef instructors from across the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force and Civil Service have taken part in a masterclass on plant-based cuisine as part of a culinary training workshop held by Humane Society International/UK, Veganuary and Plant Futures.

Chef instructors from the UK Defence Food Services Training Wing at Worthy Down, Winchester, undertook HSI/UK’s Forward Food training in January. The session covered the fundamentals of making flavoursome, plant-based dishes, which typically have a lower environmental footprint than meat and dairy options.

The day’s cooking sessions were mentored by HSI/UK’s Forward Food chef and renowned food writer Jenny Chandler, resulting in dishes such as oyster mushroom tacos with corn salsa, soba noodles in a rich umami broth topped with crunchy fresh vegetables, and creamy chickpea and butternut squash curry served with flatbreads and onion bhajis. Drawing on her experience of cooking on ships and in remote locations, Jenny advised the chefs on how to create healthy vegan meals even when working in small kitchens with limited equipment, such as in the field or on naval ships at sea.

The chef instructors also tried a variety of new and innovative products from across the plant-based industry at the Plant Futures innovation table, and took home goody bags filled with vegan food products courtesy of Veganuary.

Charlie Huson, HSI/UK’s Forward Food programme manager, said: “Delivering a Forward Food workshop to the chef instructors at Worthy Down was a pleasure. They were keen to learn how to create tasty, healthy plant-based dishes and are now well-placed to pass on this knowledge to their students. With more and more people reducing their consumption of animal products, HSI/UK’s Forward Food programme is equipping chefs with the skills to meet the rising demand for plant-based options. By supporting organisations like the Ministry of Defence – which serves millions of meals to military personnel every week – to put more plants on plates, we can help reduce demand for factory farming and combat climate change.”

Hannah Weller, corporate engagement manager for Veganuary, said: “Veganuary was delighted to have worked closely with Plant Futures and HSI/UK to make this plant-based culinary masterclass happen. The kitchen was filled with energy and creativity as the MOD chef instructors created colourful plant-based dishes, packed full of flavour which were a big hit with the military personnel who got to sample it all. Members of the MOD Veg Network, which joined the Veganuary Workplace Challenge this year, loved the food and are looking forward to seeing more plant-based meals in their mess halls soon! We look forward to working with the MOD further to support them on their plant-based journey.”

Indy Kaur of Plant Futures said: “It is an important moment in food when we see plant-based foods and new cooking techniques start to be integrated across all culinary disciplines. Highlighting the importance plant-based foods play in delivering diversified protein sources, healthy and wholesome nutrition and providing good hearty meals. A momentous occasion as we acknowledge this first of its kind workshop and continuing our conversations. With thanks to the MOD and Veg Network for their enthusiasm and drive to make this event happen along with HSI/UK and Veganuary, a good team effort all round!”

Major Javed Johl RLC, Food Services Training Wing, said: “As diets of choice increase in popularity among the UK public, the Armed Forces must reflect this in our offer to service personnel. Upskilling our Chef Instructors at the Food Services Training Wing is the first step to achieving this. In collaboration with HSI/UK, we have laid the foundations of introducing a healthier and more sustainable diet across the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.”

Members of the MOD Vegan and Vegetarian Network attended tasting sessions throughout the day, and discussed following a plant-based diet while serving in the military.

It has been widely recognised that on average, animal-based products have higher greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based options. Reducing meat and dairy consumption presents a critical opportunity to decrease both the number of animals suffering on farms and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with animal-derived food.

More than 300 chefs have been trained through HSI’s Forward Food programme in the UK since its launch in 2017. By supporting chefs and catering managers to gain skills and confidence in delivering a variety of high-quality plant-based menu items, HSI/UK is improving the availability of plant-based options across the country and helping people make compassionate culinary choices.

About HSI’s Forward Food programme:

Forward Food is an initiative of Humane Society International, with the aim to encourage and enable the catering industry to shift the focus of menus away from meals centred on animal products and put more plant-based food on plates. Find out more at


Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior media and communications manager, HSI/UK : ;07590 559299

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