New York governor Andrew Cuomo just signed into law a bill requiring hospitals in the state to offer plant-based meals and snacks! Introduced by Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, the bill states that upon request hospitals must offer patients plant-based food options that are nutritionally equivalent to other menu items. Additionally, menus and other written materials about patient meals must include the availability of plant-based food.
Susan Levin, director of nutrition education at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, stated:
By making plant-based meals the law in hospitals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put New York on the forefront of a growing movement to ensure that hospitals provide patients healthy, plant-based meals to fight heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
New York is not alone. In 2018 California enacted a law requiring hospitals and state prisons to offer patients and inmates plant-based meal options. And earlier this year in Washington, DC, city council member Mary Cheh introduced the Healthy Hospitals Amendment Act, which would eliminate processed meats like bacon and hot dogs in hospitals and make plant-based options more available. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine was a key supporter of both measures.
A nonprofit with more than 12,000 doctor members, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine provides nutrition information, plant-based recipes, and tips to hospitals trying to offer healthier foods. And major medical groups have advanced similar initiatives. The American Medical Association has passed its Healthy Food Options in Hospitals resolution, and the American College of Cardiology has published “Planting a Seed: Heart-Healthy Food Recommendations for Hospitals,” both calling on hospitals to offer more plant-based food.
Plant-based options aren’t only healthier—they’re cheaper! St. Joseph Health System in Sonoma County, California, projects saving $5,000 a year by serving meatless meals, reporting that vegetarian entrees cost about 50 percent less than meat-based ones.