New Zealand resident Jack Burns was recently rejected as a recruit by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) because of his vegan lifestyle. With previous experience as a lifeguard and training as a volunteer firefighter, Burns applied to join the Navy in hopes of helping people as a medic. A spokesperson for the NZDF told media outlet Newshub that strict vegans cannot be accepted because NZDF cannot guarantee adequate food in training and on deployment. “Members of the NZDF are required to be capable of deploying into austere environments without easy access to catering for specific dietary requirements,” the spokesperson said. “Those who have specific dietary choices must be willing to eat alternative options (ie. animal products) if their diet can’t be catered for. We do, however, provide as many options as possible for vegetarians on bases and camps, and in some field ration packs.” Burns chose to tell his story publicly in an effort to illuminate the NZDF’s exclusionary and archaic standards. “The Defence Force is at the forefront of leadership and innovation, and they need to catch up big time and educate themselves about the stereotypes about plant-based eating,” he said. Burns is now looking into a career as a firefighter or police officer.
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