The New York State Assembly has passed a bill that would guarantee plant-based meal options in all public hospitals in the state. The bill will now move to the New York State Senate.
The bill was introduced by Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried and was applauded by The Physicians Committee, a nonprofit with 12,000 doctor members.
“Thanks to New York State Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried for bringing New York a step closer to ensuring that hospital patients have access to healthy, plant-based meals that will help them fight heart disease, diabetes, and obesity,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
A similar bill passed in Sonoma County, California last year.
New York hospitals have been experimenting with introducing more plant-based diets for several months. Bellevue, the nation's oldest hospital, spearheaded late last year the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program to help people living with chronic health problems including pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or weight problems.
The program was championed by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who transitioned to a vegan diet in 2016 to stave off his diabetes. Adams helped the city put $400,000 towards this pilot program via city initiative NYC Health.
“This clinic will champion a new paradigm for health care in New York and beyond, one in which patients gain freedom not only from debilitating, life-threatening chronic diseases but also from the harsh side effects and reduced quality of life associated with traditional, less effective treatments,” Adams said at the time.
Earlier this year, New York City’s eleven public hospitals committed to observing Meatless Monday, offering plant-based meal options to all patients.
Evidence in favor of the health benefits of a plant-based diet continues to grow, with one November report linking "vegetarian-type" diets to lowered risk of coronary heart disease, fewer risk factors for diabetes, and a lowered chance of weight gain. Studies in Nutrients and the Journal of the American Heart Association showed that a plant-based diet could help prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
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