Australian Navy embraces vegetarianism.

It is part of a program called Smart Fuel which was first introduced in corporate canteens. Now, in consultation with the navy, it is being phased in by Serco Sodexho, contracted caterers to the Australian Defence Force. The concept will also be introduced into the army and air force.

Inside the junior mess at HMAS Watson yesterday (with some of the best restaurant harbour views in town) up to 140 sailors paid $3.75 for lunch.

There was a choice of ratatouille with rice or spaghetti with either bolognaise or the vegetarian-friendly provencal sauce.

Meat dishes such as beef topside and stir-fry chicken were also included.

The rest of the week's vegetarian choices would surely have old-time mess chefs reaching for the rissoles: they included garlic with cumin-tempered lentils with rice, stir-fry garden vegetables in light olive oil with rice and – don't get defensive, chaps – asparagus vol-au-vents.