Breaking! Governor Brown Signs Legislation To Offer Plant-Based Meal Options in Hospitals, Healthcare Facilities & Prisons In California

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Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senator Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) SB 1138, “Ensuring a Plant Based Meal Option,” requiring hospitals, healthcare facilities, and prisons in California to offer plant-based meals to people in these institutions.

“Whether to protect animals, our climate or our health, those of us who choose to eat a vegan diet can celebrate with Governor Brown’s signing of SB 1138,” said Senator Skinner. “SB 1138 ensures that people in hospitals, healthcare facilities or prison have access to plant-based meals.”

Americans have shown a growing interest in low-meat and no-meat diets. A 2014 survey of over 11,000 Americans by the Humane Research Council found that roughly one in ten had tried a vegetarian or vegan diet at some time in their life. A 2017 poll by Truven Health Analytics and National Public Radio found that 33% of Americans were interested in decreasing their meat consumption.

But people who are confined to prisons, hospitals or other healthcare facilities aren’t always given the opportunity to choose non-meat options—whether they wish to do so for health, environmental or personal reasons. SB 1138 wouldn’t necessitate the creation of extensive new menus; it only requires that at least one plant-based meal option be made available.

“Thanks to Senator Skinner and Governor Brown for this historic law to provide plant-based options to hospital patients looking to fight heart disease, diabetes, and obesity—or who simply want a more healthful meal,” said Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C.

“We are elated that Governor Brown sees the value in offering plant-based meals in prisons and medical facilities,” said Judie Mancuso, president and founder of Social Compassion in Legislation, the sponsor of SB 1138. “Plant-based foods are key to better health outcomes, fighting climate change, and reducing the number of animals in our food production.”

Offering plant-based options in these institutions gives California a chance to further its climate protection and water conservation goals. A 2014 study in the journal Climatic Change found that vegetarian diets were associated with a 50% reduction in food-related greenhouse gas emissions.

“There’s a basic human right to nutritious food that meets health and cultural needs,” said Skinner. “SB 1138 makes sure that California custodial facilities respect that right.”

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