What it’s like to be a vegan in the military. The history of the commander of the engineering and sapper company of the “Azov” regiment, Engineer

What it’s like to be a vegan in the military.  The history of the commander of the engineering and sapper company of the “Azov” regiment, Engineer

A native of Mariupol, in the past a teacher, and now the commander of the engineering and sapper company of the “Azov” regiment, 37-year-old Artem with the call sign “Engineer” clears the Ukrainian land of mines and tracks down the enemy in the southern direction of Ukraine. In addition, Artem has been vegan for nine years and combines humane beliefs with waging war. “I have been a vegetarian since I was 13, and I became a vegan 9 years ago – after the Revolution of Dignity,” the hero says. In an interview with “UP.Zhyttia”, Artem “Engineer” talked about the war, his own reflections and veganism during it. Then his direct speech. “I knew about the imminent war and was preparing for it” In civilian life, I am a university lecturer. I teach architecture, engineering at KNUBA – Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture. Before the full-scale invasion, I didn’t have much military experience. I knew about the impending war and was preparing for it. He put together emergency suitcases, organized courses in tactical medicine. My friends and I made a shelter in the Kyiv region, with all the necessary equipment there. But as a result, it was used by only a few people out of ten calculated due to its close location to the front. But I wasn’t ready for such a long and intense battle. We did not think that the Russian army would be able to break into the Kyiv region. Commander of the engineering and sapper company of the “Azov” regiment Engineer “It is not hate that drives me into battle, but love” Many people need “raja guna” – a feeling of passion to go into battle. It is not hate that leads me into battle, but love. I feel how the earth burns with love, it leads to battle. My inner challenge is not to let hatred into my heart, but to act out of love is very important. Not everyone should pick up a gun and go kill. For some reason, people perceive this war as something from the movies, where people with bayonets run through the crowd. This does not happen. My war in the tablet, for example. I set the artillery strike points, invite the adjuster and start “pouring” there. We bring quadcopters into action, we find mines with the help of thermal imagers. We have a lot of cool technology that helps us destroy the enemy from a distance. The guys at ground zero of the southern direction are creating tank positions in the combat zone. I often get the question “Did you fire a machine gun at the enemy?”. I had confrontations with the enemy – detained saboteurs, used weapons, maybe killed. I don’t set that as my goal, because this war is different. My mission is to save as many civilians and fighters as possible. Meditation and sleep in the gray zone Psychologically it is not easy, but meditation helps me. I also do yoga and qigong (the ancient Chinese art of self-regulation of qi energy – ed.) whenever possible. At first, the fighters were skeptical about it, then they got used to it. Besides, I’m a commander, what can you tell me (laughs – author). I stop in a safe area and meditate or sleep for a few minutes and go on to the task. For 6 months, Artem served in the southern direction – in the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. On November 12, the “Engineer” was transferred to the military scientific department at the General Staff. “Large ungulates are the first to die because of their size” At first, people hear explosions in the distance, get used to them, and then they grow into arrivals in their locality. Then the residents leave their homes in a panic, without taking their animals with them. Sometimes there are exceptions – always some part of people remains. You are digging trenches, and a grandmother is grazing a goat nearby, an enemy armored personnel carrier has moved out, is firing, and a grandmother is grazing a goat. We drive through the gray zone, the grandmother is standing, making noise – we stop, we ask: “Grandmother, should I take you out?”, and she: “No, son, I have two cows. Just take me to the cowshed.” We tell her that maybe the cowherd is no longer there. Once I saw freed cows wandering the fields – their cowshed was bombed by enemy rockets. Then I thought, “This is animal liberation, but it’s not what I wanted it to be.” Unfortunately, in my experience, large ungulates are the first to die due to their size – there is a high probability of being hit by the blast wave. On the one hand, wild animals feel good – I have never seen so many pheasants, for example, bunnies, golden eagles, rabbits, roaming freely. Once a pig got to me. You understand that she is contused. She is not used to feeding herself – that’s why she dies of starvation. I saw a husky running through the streets, but it didn’t hurt – it grabbed chickens. Mice have been bred in abundance – cats are not in trouble either, chanterelles have been bred no less – the natural chain in some places, on the contrary, is being established and strengthened. About the transition to a plant-based diet and the first experience of veganism in the ATO I have been a vegetarian since the age of 13, and I became a vegan 9 years ago – after the Revolution of Dignity. Then I radically reconsidered my life, considered why my friends died, why I remained alive. A year after that, in 2015, I joined the ATO as a volunteer. Note: Both vegetarians and vegans refuse to eat meat and fish. However, veganism is a stricter form of vegetarianism that prohibits the consumption of any animal products, including dairy, eggs, honey, leather, wool, and silk. Read also: Who are vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians, flexitarians, pollotarians and what do they eat? Among the military, there is a myth that a warrior must eat meat, something fatty, cholesterol-rich, unhealthy, in order to have strength and endurance. I don’t think so and follow veganism in the war. Being a vegan in the military is not easy. During the first month, it was the most difficult – then we did not have any vegan products. But today the situation has changed significantly for the better. At first, the main difficulties were that in the territories that were in the active phase of hostilities, shops were mostly closed or there was simply no time to go to them, let alone cook. It was in the summer when we fought in the south of Ukraine. Later we were transferred to a more favorable area for buying food. I was greatly supported by the supplies that my friends and I made in preparation for the war. It was also possible to agree in the soldiers’ canteen that at least one dish should be vegan. I am not a fan of the concept of “dry”. The military must have full hot food, especially in winter. In the summer, I often ate a lot of fruits, vegetables and nuts, which I bought from the locals. In winter, there is not much raw food, so my diet then mainly consists of cereals, processed and canned vegetables, and soups. I soak nuts and mushrooms. Volunteers also sent us a box of “Zelupchi” stew, which is also good. There are no organized deliveries of vegan products to the front yet. But in every military canteen, you can agree to cook something vegan. However, it is often not possible to check the contents of products and dishes, and it is not always possible to cook for yourself. In Ukraine, despite the war, the delivery system is well developed, and you can order vegan semi-finished products or preserves. In July 2022, I learned about the public organization “Every Animal”, contacted them, and now we periodically receive vegan packages from them. They collect plant-based rations for the vegan military and greatly diversify our diet. I also got used to setting up the ecosystem around me on my own – recently I started cooking for myself. At the front, in addition to volunteers, friends and acquaintances helped me a lot, I myself have a production of vegan sweets, so with such weapons I can go anywhere. A set of military-vegan energy weapons Reference: On September 22, 2022, the petition “On the introduction of vegetarian and vegan dry rations for the Armed Forces of Ukraine” collected the necessary number of votes for further consideration by the president. On October 6, Volodymyr Zelenskyi responded: “At the moment, it should be noted that there is no ration for servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations that prefer vegetarian food products. Taking into account the above, I appealed to the Prime Minister of Ukraine D. Shmyhal with a request to process the issue raised in the electronic petition”. Soft veganization I am fighting in the southern direction – on the border of the Zaporizhia and Mykolaiv regions. Recently, I started going to Zaporizhzhia periodically – you can always find some vegan sausages there. We installed another eco-refrigerator with our partners. The only thing is that my soldiers are not vegans, but there are three vegetarians in the regiment. The other day, the commander-in-chief of the staff approached me and made a request: “Listen, just don’t order your soldiers not to eat meat.” The army is not always a voluntary thing – you can join the ranks of fighters voluntarily, but it is more difficult to follow the orders of the commander. I replied that of course I would not drag them into it by force. I do not support violent principles. I stuffed the fridge with vegan sausages, my friends eat them and say they are like real ones. And I answer that vegan sausages are real! I recently purchased a black and red vegan kelp roe. I didn’t start posting these photos anywhere, because they will still say that we, soldiers, are completely fat – no one knows what vegan food is. And I also put it in the refrigerator of the headquarters – the guys ate it and say that it tastes like ordinary fish roe. It doesn’t matter to me that the food looks like animal food. I use it as a kind of stalking to get more people to go vegan. In the first months of the full-scale invasion, Artem fought in the Kyiv region. In the photo, he is with his brother in the Brovary direction

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