The People’s Liberation Army has updated its detailed dietary and nutritional intake instructions for the force’s two million troops and generals.
The dietary guidelines, updated last year by the Logistic Support Department of the Central Military Commission and the army’s commissariats, outline a four-tier regime for troops, with categories corresponding to types of service and areas stationed at.
The top-grade category is for PLA airmen and crews on conventional and nuclear-powered submarines. The second is for marines and troops deployed on elevated plateaus in Tibet and Qinghai.
These menus feature high-calorie, high-protein dishes including boiled eggs, condensed milk, beef, chicken thighs and other lean meat, as well as glutinous rice and starch.
Other troops in more conventional services also have a wide choice of dishes.
The PLA Daily once reported that the typical lunch for a garrison in southern China involved a choice of no fewer than six dishes, typically steamed fish, stewed chicken with potato, shredded potatoes with sour sauce, Sichuan chilli tofu, asparagus lettuce with sliced pork, stir-fried vegetables and a soup of the day, all served in a semi-buffet style.
Lavish banquets are organized for all frontline soldiers prior to major festivals.
The PLA recommends soldiers consume no less than 500 grams of grain, 1,000 grams of vegetables, 400 grams of meat and 200 grams of milk per day, significantly higher than the recommended daily dietary intake for an adult Chinese civilan.
Baijiu (white liquor) used to be a key component of the PLA’s intake, with Kweichow Moutai producing a top-line brand for the military. The tradition comes from when PLA forces camped in the town of Maotai, in Guizhou province, and partook of the local liquor.
In recent years, however, the PLA has sought to boot alcohol from its menus over concerns that it damages the force’s image and capabilities, and has introduced a range of other beverages including coffee and Red Bull.