Setting the Standard: California Rules Vegan Options Essential in Hospitals

California passes legislation requiring vegan meal options at state facilities

If you’ve ever been stuck in hospital wondering what sort of food you’ll be offered as a vegan, the passage of this latest Californian government legislation will have you jumping for joy!

vegan-food-California-hospitals
Hospitals and prisons in the state of California are now legally bound to provide a vegan meal option

Known as Bill SB1138, a ruling on the provision of “wholesome, plant-based meals”, sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Social Compassion in Legislation, and introduced by Senator Nancy Skinner, was passed on 30 August this year. This momentous bill legally requires Californian prisons, hospitals and other state-run facilities to offer at least one vegan meal option at cafeterias and kitchens, a landmark bill in terms of meal availability and diversity. Senator Skinner commented:

“By guaranteeing access to plant-based food, SB 1138 respects the health, ethical and diet choices of those in hospitals or other institutions who don’t have the option to prepare their own meals.”

The bill is currently waiting to be admitted into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown, after being passed by a Californian assembly vote of 69-9. This unanimous step forwards for plant-based meal equality follows a campaign by the American Medical Association in June 2017, which saw the passing of a Healthy Food Options in Hospitals resolution. This state-wide resolution called upon US hospitals to take action in order to help improve the health of their patients, visitors and staff alike. The American Medical Association recommended the provision of healthier, plant-based meal options across the states, strongly advising that processed meats be omitted for menus in favour of higher fibre, lower fat and strictly plant-based foods.

The Importance of Healthier Choices

The passage of Bill SB1138 is both ground-breaking and promising for the future, more widespread ruling across the US in equal measure. Providing plant-based meal options in hospital will help encourage patients to adopt healthier vegan diets in their day to day lives, which will undoubtedly lead to the betterment of their health. Countless research consistently links the consumption of meat and animal products to progressive health complications such as diabetes, heart disease and colonic cancer, whilst exclusively plant-based diets have been proven to actively reverse and eliminate lifestyle diseases. The American College of Cardiology states:

“Many nutrition plans have been developed to improve cardiovascular health and reduce risk factors…What they have in common is an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes, reduced consumption of animal fats, and moderation in sodium intake. Observational and intervention studies have shown that, to the extent that plant-based foods play a bigger role in the diets of populations and individuals, health benefits follow.”

What’s more, increasing the proportion of plant-based meals in state facilities will also result in economic benefits. The American College of Cardiology adds:

“Healthful diets may also play a role in the economics of medical care, particularly for heart patients. Acute heart failure is the most common cause of readmission to a hospital within 30 days of discharge…To the extent that hospitals help patients adopt healthful habits, their health benefits may be accompanied by financial benefits.”

With patients, prison inmates and hospital budgets being given a greener bill of health, we look to California to roll out plant-based meals across the board at schools, colleges and universities. Here’s hoping that all states will soon follow California’s suit in the near future.

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