Some people combat climate change by holding grand international conferences; others, by serving up a heaping lunch buffet of falafel, couscous, and beets to a cafeteria full of hungry soldiers.
Last week, at the Rena military base 90 miles north of Oslo, the Norwegian armed forces staged its first-ever “meat-free Monday" (on a Thursday, oddly enough) as part of a larger effort to decrease the military’s consumption of meat and protect the environment (in September, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that livestock supply chains are responsible for nearly 15 percent of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions). In one of the more unlikely ecological experiments we’ve seen recently, the military plans to test out the concept at other bases over the next year—and estimates that it can cut its meat consumption by more than 330,000 pounds a year if it extends meatless Mondays to all units at home and abroad.
"It seems that people don’t think it’s possible to be an iron man as a vegetarian, it seems like they don’t think a good soldier can be a vegetarian, but we have a lot of soldiers who are vegetarian, so I know it’s possible," says Pal Stenberg, a nutritionist and navy commander who heads up the army’s catering division. "We have to use a lot of effort in communicating both the environmental benefits and the health benefits."