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New York City’s public hospitals have taken a green leap forward, and it’s not just about the environment—it’s about their menu. By making plant-based meals the standard for inpatient dining, NYC Health + Hospitals, the nation’s most extensive municipal health system, has significantly reduced its food-related carbon footprint.
When you walk into one of the 11 public hospitals in the city, you won’t find the traditional meat-based dishes on the menu. Instead, you might come across pasta with a meatless Bolognese or Sancocho without beef. While this sounds vegan, the hospitals have chosen to label their food as “plant-based”, consciously avoiding the term “vegan” due to potential negative connotations.
The result? A whopping 36% reduction in food-related carbon emissions within a year of implementing these changes, as reported by the mayor’s office. Even more impressive is the patient response. Most are happily accepting these eco-friendly dishes, with a satisfaction rate exceeding 90%, according to Samantha Morgenstern from Sodexo, the service provider behind these meals.
The drive towards a plant-centric menu isn’t just a culinary experiment. It’s part of a broader initiative led by Mayor Eric Adams, known for his plant-based diet. With food and transportation each contributing to about 20% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, such efforts can make a significant difference. The mayor’s office aims to slash food-based emissions by a third by the end of this decade.
Studies back up these efforts. Recent research from Oxford University found that plant-based diets result in 75% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than meat-inclusive diets. The world’s food system, notably beef, lamb, and cheese, accounts for a significant chunk of global emissions.
This shift has another silver lining: savings. After transitioning to plant-based meals, the hospitals initially saved 59 cents per tray, and although this has varied, it continues to be more cost-effective than meat dishes.
While several institutions globally have pledged to reduce food-related emissions, NYC’s public hospitals stand out by making plant-based meals the default. Their monumental step is inspiring other health systems worldwide to reconsider their menus. As Mercedes Redwood from NYC Health + Hospitals rightly said, “If we can do it, truly anyone can.”
- A Hospital’s Fresh Approach to Healthier Eating
- Mayor Eric Adams Announces Expansion of Plant-Based Meals For Patients in NYC Public Hospitals
- Scottish Doctors Urge NHS to Ban Meat From Hospitals
- Plant-Based Doctor, Michelle McMacken, Appointed Executive Director of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine for NYC Health + Hospitals
- Incogmeato™ Coming to Hospitals and Schools
Easy Ways to Help the Planet:
- Eat Less Meat: Download Food Monster, the largest plant-based Recipe app on the App Store, to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy. You can also buy a hard or soft copy of our favorite vegan cookbooks.
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