Finland's army forced to eat vegetables, defence minister annoyed
Niinisto had not been informed in advance about the decision to serve two vegetables-only meals per week starting this autumn, the report said.
Niinisto claimed the decision seems to be an "ideological choice" and he has asked for an explanation.
Major Eija Pulkki, the officer in charge of catering services, told national broadcaster Yle earlier during the week the decision is based on health and environmental grounds.
Those meals would include pasta, potatoes, soy and Quorn, a meat substitute product, but no meat. She said the climate impact of meat production is one ground.
The national committee of conscripts, a legally mandated body representing the opinions of men and women serving in the military on the national service basis, had suggested an all vegetable day last year.
Niinisto said he was surprised and cited opinion polls indicating that "only half a percent of national service men and women" back vegetables-only meals.
"This seems to be forced-feeding," Niinisto said.
The defence minister represents the populist Blue Reform party. In current polls its backing is around one percent.
The Blue Reform is a break-away faction of the populist Finns Party. Research has indicated that the core support base of the two populist parties comprises many middle-aged men who rather "eat meat and perhaps potatoes".
Niinisto said "no army is able to fight if only eating vegetable soup and cauliflower shake". ■