The New York State Legislature’s Senate Health Committee passed an important bill that would guarantee hospital patients a healthy plant-based option at every meal. The bill passed in the New York State Assembly in March and will now move 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 plant-based meals and snacks available that do not contain animal products or by-products, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, or honey. The bill also requires hospitals to list plant-based options in all written material and menus.
In September, California passed similar legislation, which the Physicians Committee co-sponsored along with Social Compassion In Legislation. The Physicians Committee’s Healthy Hospital Food web page provides plant-based recipes, tips for implementing plant-based meals, and case studies of hospitals championing healthy food.
“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,” Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said in a statement.
Nearly 1.7 million New Yorkers have diabetes, and heart disease accounts for 40% 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 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 explains that “hospitalization can be a ‘teachable moment’ for patients who are ready to embrace nutrition as part of the healing process.”