California Senate Unanimously Passes Historic Bill Calling for Plant-Based Meals for Patients and Prisoners

The Physicians Committee
NEWS RELEASE June 1, 2018
California Senate Unanimously Passes Historic Bill Calling for Plant-Based Meals for Patients and Prisoners
Lawmakers Overwhelmingly Support Plant-Based Meals to Improve Health, Save Money, and Reduce Environmental Impact

SACRAMENTO—The California Senate has unanimously passed SB 1138, a historic bill that could soon provide patients and prisoners a healthful plant-based option at every meal. The bill, introduced by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Social Compassion in Legislation, now moves to the California State Assembly.

“Offering plant-based meal options is a great way to give people healthy choices and reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions,” says Sen. Skinner. “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.”

SB 1138 would require licensed California health care facilities and state prisons to make available plant-based meal options containing no animal products or by-products, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, or eggs.

“The senate’s unanimous passage of SB 1138 sends a clear message that lawmakers understand the power of a plant-based diet to improve health, save money, and reduce environmental impact—not only in prisons and hospitals, but in all aspects of California life,” says Judie Mancuso, founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation. “I’m confident the state assembly will follow in the senate’s footsteps and soon pass this common-sense legislation.”

In June 2017, the American Medical Association passed a Healthy Food Options in Hospitalsresolution that calls on U.S. hospitals to improve the health of patients, staff, and visitors by providing plant-based meals. The American College of Cardiology made the same recommendation in Planting a Seed: Heart-Healthy Food Recommendations for Hospitals.

“California is leading the nation by acting on the American Medical Association and the American College of Cardiology recommendations for plant-based meals,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “Providing plant-based meals won’t just help patients and prisoners fight obesity, diabetes, and heart disease; it could save hospitals and prisons thousands of dollars a year.”

St. Joseph Health System in Sonoma County, Calif., reports, “Vegetarian entrées cost about 50 percent less than meat entrées.” The hospital projects saving $5,000 a year by    serving more meat-free meals.

To speak with Ms. Levin or another expert, please contact Jeanne Stuart McVey at or 202-527-7316.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.

Media Contact:
Jeanne Stuart McVey
202-527-7316 office
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