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Let them eat fake: Navy gets stuck with plant-based protein

Updated: Jul 14, 2022

For some Navy Sailors, serving overseas will soon mean servings of fake meat.

The House on Thursday night passed the annual defense policy bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. Buried in that bill, in Section 222, is a requirement that the Navy launch a pilot program for offering “plant-based protein options at forward operating bases for consumption by members of the Navy.”

The Secretary of the Navy must launch the pilot program by March 2023 in at least two naval facilities. The bill specifies the Navy should prioritize forward operating bases such as Guam, Japan, and Joint Region Marianas for the program, or similar places “where livestock-based protein options may be costly to obtain or store.”

The bill makes clear that the Navy is not prevented from offering “livestock-based protein options alongside plant-based protein options.” But the intent is clearly to move toward fake steak: the bill also asks the Navy to analyze the program after three years and think up ways to “increase plant-based protein options” at other naval facilities.

The House had a chance at removing the language from the NDAA before a final vote, but that opportunity was missed Tuesday night in the House Rules Committee. That committee sets the terms of debate for all legislation on the House floor and determines which amendments may be considered on the floor.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) offered an amendment striking Section 222 from the bill, and her amendment was one of more than 1,200 proposed for the bill. Late Tuesday, the Democrat-led House Rules Committee decided it would consider more than half of these amendments on the floor starting this week, but Boebert’s did not make the cut.

House lawmakers also considered several other Navy-related amendments to the NDAA, including one that would cut authorization for the construction of several new ships an another that would allow the Navy to retire more Littoral Combat Ships.

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