ALBANY, N.Y.—The Physicians Committee—a nonprofit with more than 12,000 doctor members—applauds the New York State Legislature’s Senate Health Committee for passing a landmark bill that would guarantee hospital patients a healthful plant-based option at every meal. The bill, which passed in the New York State Assembly in March, now moves to the full senate for a vote.
S1471/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, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, or honey. The bill also requires hospitals to list the plant-based options in all written materials and menus.
“The Senate Health Committee’s passage of S1471 sends a clear message that New York lawmakers know that providing hospital patients plant-based meals is a crucial step toward fighting nutrition-related epidemics including 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. 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.
In June 2017, the American Medical Association passed a Healthy Food Options in Hospitals resolution, which calls on U.S. hospitals to improve the health of patients, staff, and visitors by providing plant-based meals. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) made the same recommendation in Planting a Seed: Heart-Healthy Food Recommendations for Hospitals. The ACC says that “hospitalization can be a ‘teachable moment’ for patients who are ready to embrace nutrition as part of the healing process.”
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.
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.