California Senate Passes Bill Requiring Prisons to Offer Vegan Meals

Earlier this week the California State Senate unanimously passed SB 1138, a bill to require vegan options in prisons and other public institutions with licensed healthcare facilities.

With the support of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Social Compassion in Legislation, democratic senator Nancy Skinner, who represents California’s ninth district, authored SB 1138. According to the legislation, hospitals, nursing facilities, and prisons would have to provide vegan meals to people who request them because of food allergies or religious or ethical beliefs.

In a statement, Senator Skinner said:
Offering plant-based meal options is a great way to give people healthy choices and reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions. But most importantly, I want to make sure we’re being fair and giving those in institutional settings food options that meet their individual needs.

Last year Portugal’s parliament passed a similar law mandating that vegan meals be offered in all public canteens, including hospitals, schools, and prisons. Similarly, Veracruz—the second-largest state in Mexico—announced earlier this year that it would serve vegan meals at public schools every Monday, totaling 925,000 vegan meals each year. The announcement came after government officials signed a collaboration agreement with Mercy For Animals’ Latin American food policy program, Come Consciente (Conscious Eating).

These policies have far-reaching benefits, and if they were standard in all countries—as they very well should be—their impact would be enormous. Consider how we could help curb climate change, for example, by giving millions more people vegan options.

It’s high time world governments stopped supporting an industry that harms our health, ravages the planet, and exploits animals. Requiring public institutions to offer vegan options would be a great first step in that direction.

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