The Food

Chapter 11: Vegetarian in the Army?

“Smart, great at PT, decent shot, your only downfall is that you don’t eat meat.” – Drill Sergeant Duffy

Many people often ask me what I eat since I’m a vegetarian.  They couldn’t fathom the idea of being one.  Have they ever considered my circumstances in the Army as a vegetarian?

The Dining Facilities (DFAC is what we call them in the military) often have some sort of weekly schedule of what they are serving.  For example, at Fort Huachuca, AZ there was Mexican Wednesdays (imagine how fucked up the line for the toilet was).

I could not afford to be picky.  Breakfast was heaven.  It was one of those times where they supplied the closest thing to junk food – whole wheat pop tarts and cocoa puffs.  All the fat people were not allowed to eat these goodies.  Often for lunch I would have salad, some whole wheat bread, nut raisin mix, and PB&J.  For dinner, most likely the same thing.  I ate cottage cheese for protein, and supplemented myself with extra peanut butter packets I would sneak out of the dining facility.

If you are caught stealing food out of the DFAC during basic training, you are screwed.  More than likely you will be low-crawling across a muddy field, doing a plethora of pushup or situps – basically just something that is physically tedious and impractical.

I wasn’t a retard with the food I snuck out.  I carried it with me instead of storing it in my locker (which was open to inspection).  I ate it within the day usually, and flushed the wrapper down the toilet just in case they inspected our trash.

When we went into the field to conduct field training exercises (FTX), we had these meals called MREs (Meal Ready to Eat).  Ironically, the vegetarian MREs are much better than the others.  They usually have peanut butter and crackers, which are gold out in the field.  The Cheese Tortellini MRE comes with M&M’s, which can be worth as much as ten dollars if you find someone desperate enough.  Below is a picture of me eating and MRE with some of my buddies I met at Fort Huachuca.  We were in a hangar hiding from the hot Arizona summer sun.

There is a saying in the military; “Perception is Reality”.  Basically, if something looks squared away, it is.  No one will question inspecting it further.  Because I behaved and was considered one of the top soldiers in my company, drill sergeants didn’t bother harassing me.  They went after the soldiers who were “shitbags”.

Towards the end of basic training, the drill sergeants had us sit down and tell us all of our secrets.  They said that we would not get punished for it – they simply wanted to hear our tricks and techniques for future basic training classes they train.  All of the Drill Sergeants said they honestly could have cared less that I was stealing peanut butter – they were actually glad I was getting enough protein to do well on PT tests.

Drill Sergeant Duffy asked me how the hell I expected to be a killer without eating meat.  That is a good question.

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