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Healthy Hospital Food

Adding Plant-Based Options to Patient Menus

Everything you need to offer plant-based options in your hospital.

Great hospital care means more than state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatments—it includes all aspects of the hospital experience, including delicious, healthy food.

Follow these 10 easy steps to add plant-based options to your patient menu.

1. Review your menu.

Review your current patient menu for existing plant-based options that could provide a nutritionally complete meal.

2. Identify gaps.

Is there a substantive option for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? It should meet your hospital’s nutrient guidelines for patient meals.

3. Make a plan.

If you don’t have plant-based meals available, meet with your hospital’s food service director and administrators. Will necessary menu changes be made at the hospital or health system level? Discuss overall staff time and resources that may be needed.

4. Review specific resources available, such as staff, cost, equipment, and supplies.

Evaluate frozen, pre-prepared, and scratch-made menu items. Each have advantages, depending on patient demand, available kitchen equipment, and staffing.

5. Identify plant-based recipes from your food service company.

Independent providers can use these tested recipes. Tips for nutritionally complete meals:

  • Replace animal products with high-protein, plant-based foods like beans, lentils, and tofu.
  • Offer plant-based milks or fortified foods containing vitamin B12.

6. Test recipes.

Invite kitchen and administrative staff to try out new recipes.

7. Update patient menu cards with new plant-based options.

Consider a weekly plant-based special on rotation as an insert.

8. Educate staff.

Offer in-service training for:

9. Educate patients.

Teach patients how plant-based options can help them get healthy. You can use these free handouts, or create your own.

10. Promote your plant-based options.

Offer samples to nursing and administrative staff. Include an article in your in-house and public newsletters about the new options. Reach out to local media about the steps your facility has taken to offer delicious, health-promoting food.