Will Hospitals Ban Meat? AMA Emphasizes the Plant-Based Diet

Hospitals are Going Vegan as AMA Emphasizes the Plant-Based Diet
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The American Medical Association (AMA) said in a statement last month that the nation’s hospitals and physicians take their patients’ best interests to heart by shifting hospital food menus to focus on plant-based meals, as well as the elimination of processed meats, foods with added sugars and excess sodium and fat. 

The resolution, voted on by the AMA’s 200,000-member House of Delegates, was co-sponsored by the Medical Society of the District of Columbia and the American College of Cardiology. It reads:

“RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association hereby call on US hospitals to improve the health of patients, staff, and visitors by (1) providing a variety of healthful food, including plant-based meals and meals that are low in fat, sodium, and added sugars, (2) eliminating processed meats from menus, and (3) providing and promoting healthful beverages.”

The announcement mirrors the growing body of research proving the benefits of consuming a diet rich in plant-based foods despite the dietary habits of Americans over the last century. Recent studies have found a predominantly plant-based vegan diet reduces the risks of serious health issues including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Last December, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest group of nutritionists, called the vegan diet “appropriate for all stages of the life cycle,” including pregnancy and childhood.

Catherine Saint Louis wrote in the New York Times’ Ask Well last week that not eating meat during gestation “may even have upsides.” Citing that a vegetarian diet in the first trimester was “linked to a lower risk of excessive gestational weight gain” and reduced the risk of complications like gestational diabetes.

Numerous hospitals across the country have begun working to source locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Some are even growing their own in efforts to provide patients with healthier food. But meat, eggs, and dairy are still all too common.

“Fifty years ago, you would have seen doctors, patients and staff all smoking in a hospital, despite clear evidence that smoking posed a serious health risk,” American College of Lifestyle Medicine Board Member James F. Loomis, MD, MBA, and Medical Director of Barnard Medical Center in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. “In 1972 the AMA declared war on smoking, and now we look back and think about how crazy it was that smoking was allowed in hospitals. My hope is that the AMA’s passage of this important resolution will provide the impetus for change so that we can all look back and say, ‘Can you what believe we used to feed our patients in the hospital?’”

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.