ALBANY, N.Y.—New York State hospitals must make a healthful plant-based option available at every meal starting Dec. 6, following a landmark bill that was signed into law last year. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which supported the bill, is a member of a nonprofit coalition that offers support, resources, and hands-on trainings to help hospital culinary teams provide more plant-based meals.
Bill S1471A/A4072, introduced by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, requires hospitals in New York to make available upon request plant-based meals and snacks containing no animal products or by-products that are nutritionally equivalent to other menu items. The bill also requires hospitals to list the plant-based options on all written materials and menus.
“This law gives physicians a teachable moment to discuss with patients the power of a plant-based meal to help prevent and reverse conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee.
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. In New York State, the leading COVID-19 comorbidities are high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Research shows that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans can help fight heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer.
The American Medical Association has 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.
Last year, the D.C. Council introduced the Healthy Hospitals Amendment Act of 2019, a bill that would require hospitals in Washington, D.C., to improve the nutritional quality of their menus by eliminating processed meat such as bacon and hot dogs and making plant-based options available. California passed similar legislation in 2018, 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.
To speak with Susan Levin, please contact Donna Steele at dsteele [at] pcrm.org or 202-527-7342.
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.