ALBANY, N.Y.—The Physicians Committee—a nonprofit with more than 12,000 doctor members—applauds the New York State Legislature for passing a landmark bill that would guarantee hospital patients a healthful plant-based option at every meal. The bill, which passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and Assembly on June 3, now goes to the governor.
S1471A/A4072, introduced by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, requires hospitals in New York to make available plant-based meals and snacks containing no animal products or by-products. The bill also requires hospitals to list the plant-based options in all written materials and menus.
“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,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Nearly 1.7 million New Yorkers have diabetes and heart disease accounts for 40 percent of all deaths in New York state, according to the New York State Department of Health. Research shows that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, can help fight heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer.
In September, California passed similar legislation, which the Physicians Committee co-sponsored. In June 2017, the American Medical Association passed a Healthy Food Options in Hospitals resolution 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.
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.
The Physicians Committee’s Healthy Hospital Food web page provides quantity plant-based recipes, tips for implementing plant-based meals, and case studies of hospitals championing healthy food.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.