Life as a Deployed Navy Vegan aboard Anchorage

Vegan Sailors assigned to San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) prove that it is possible to maintain their lifestyle, even while at-sea, on deployment.

A vegan is someone who conscientiously refrains from eating foods that contain any animal products including meats, eggs, fish, and dairy. For some the decision is about belief in a cause, while for others, the reason simply revolves around feeling better.

“At first it’s hard, but over time your body gets adjusted to not consuming animal product,” said Electronics Technician 1st Class Erik Grimm. “After switching to a vegan diet I feel more focused and I can tell I have a lot of extra energy.”

The meal schedule aboard the Anchorage is consistent, Sailors and Marines can count on having chicken or beef tacos on Tuesday, meat lasagna on Thursday, and meat-loves pizza and wings on Friday; yet the culinary specialists aboard Anchorage ensure to offer alternatives to support a range of dietary needs, including veganism.

“There are options for us vegans and the Culinary Specialists are very respectful and supportive with my dietary needs,” said Grimm. “There is also an unlimited salad bar aboard Anchorage that offers a wide variety of vegetables.”

Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Lleana Luke is in charge of what is prepared in the galley and says she keeps everyone’s needs in mind when designing the menu, Her goal is to ensure that everyone has options and they’re satiated when leaving the dinner table on the mess decks.

“Whether you’re a vegan or not, there will always be something for you in the galley,” said Luke. “I just want to make sure my Sailors and Marines are happy and healthy.”

Engineman 2nd Class Shawn Pedersoli has been a vegan for 12 months and suggests doing research before making the decision to make this lifestyle change.

“If you’re thinking about being a vegan you should really study the facts and read a lot about the diet,” said Pedersoli. “Try the diet out in port first and wrap your mind around the whole thing.”

Though the culinary specialists provide alternatives to animal based foods, it doesn’t mean it is always an easy task to fulfill the dietary requirements while on deployment. Some Sailors, such as Grimm, get creative in supplementing the meal offerings to meet their desired nutritional results.

“If you are serious about being a deployed vegan, I suggest trying textured veggie protein (TVP),” said Grimm. “With the results I’m experiencing I believe everyone should give it a try and I’m sure they’ll be surprised by the results.”

The Anchorage may be deployed, but the Sailors and Marines aboard the ship prove that compromises in their lifestyle do not have to be made in order to serve in the Navy.

Anchorage is on a regularly scheduled deployment of Essex ARG and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The Essex ARG/13th MEU is a lethal, flexible, and persistent Navy-Marine Corps team deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.

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