Should plant-based hospital meals be the law? An American experience.

Author(s): 

Storz MA

Year Published: 

2020

Journal: 

Hospital practice (1995)

Category: 

Study Design: 

Abstract: 

Hospitalization is an unparalleled opportunity for physicians to educate patients about the interconnection between poor dietary choices and the occurrence of many chronic diseases. For those patients who are ready to embrace nutrition as an essential part of the healing process, however, it is oftentimes difficult to find healthy menus at hospitals. Meat-based entrées, sugar-sweetened beverages and candy appear to be omnipresent in cafeterias and restaurants at U.S. hospitals. On the other hand, healthy plant-based menus are still the exception rather than the rule. Some states undertook considerable efforts to change this and made plant-based meals the law. Upon request by a patient, hospitals in New York are now required by law to provide plant-based options at every meal. This recent development triggered a controversial discussion within the medical community whether other states should follow this example and make plant-based hospital menus the law as well. This editorial illuminates why mandatory plant-based hospital menus could be a win-win situation for many involved stakeholders, including patients, hospitals and food services. This step is not a loss-marking venture for hospitals but rather a chance to save money and to improve corporate brand marketing at the same time. The introduction of mandatory plant-based menus in hospitals at a large scale represents a unique opportunity at the nexus of health, innovative corporate strategies and economics. Adequate framework conditions are necessary to ensure that all individuals can make healthy and affordable dietary choices while being hospitalized.