A new bill could mean that vegan meal options will be required in all New York hospitals.
According to the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a nonprofit that promotes preventative medicine, the “landmark bill” will guarantee that all patients are offered a vegan option at meal times, as well as plant-based snacks. All of these options must be referred to on written materials and on menus.
The bill was “passed overwhelmingly” in the Senate and the Assembly, and will now go to the governor, PCRM reports.
“By signing S1471A/A4072 into law, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will 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,” said Susan Levin, the director of nutrition education for PCRM, in a statement.
According to the committee, nearly 1.7 million New Yorkers suffer from diabetes, and heart disease accounts for 40 percent of deaths in the state. “Research shows that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, can help fight heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer,” the organization notes.
It’s cheaper, too. According to St. Joseph Health System — which is based in California, where a similar bill has already passed — the veggie meals cost 50 percent less to produce than the meat options. “The hospital projects saving $5,000 a year by serving more meat-free meals,” says PCRM.
New York’s Hospitals Embrace Meatless Mondays
This isn’t the first time New York’s hospitals have been pushed to reduce the amount of meat served. Last August, Bellevue Hospital, the oldest public hospital in the nation, launched the Plant-Based Lifestyle Program, which works with patients to incorporate more vegan food into their diets as a means of preventative medicine.
Earlier this year, the city’s Health + Hospitals division introduced Meatless Mondays for NYC’s 11 public hospitals.
Dr. Mitchell Katz, the president and CEO of Health + Hospitals, said in a statement, “we want to empower our patients to live their healthiest lives by introducing them to healthier foods that they may choose once they’re discharged.”
The shift towards vegan food is being championed by a number of influential figures in New York, including vegan Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who reduced severe symptoms of his type-2 diabetes through a plant-based, whole foods diet.
He said in a statement earlier this year, “our shared goal is to create a healthier Big Apple, one where our government institutions support healthful dietary choices. Hospitals have a unique opportunity to influence patients and families in rethinking the nutritional quality of their meals.”