New York state requires vegan options

A new law in New York state came into effect on December 6 that requires all hospitals in the state to make a vegan option available for every meal they serve.  All meals and snacks must include an option that is completely free from animal products and these options must be available at no extra cost. They must include the plant-based options on all written materials and menus.

This is very exciting because it gives physicians the opportunity to discuss with their patients the power of a plant-based meal to prevent and treat diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and many other chronic conditions. More than 1.5 million New Yorkers have heart disease and diabetes, and these account for 40 percent of deaths in the state. COVID-19 comorbidity figures indicate that a large proportion of those who have died from the virus have conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, so anything that can be done to encourage plant-based eating will help reduce the risks of these comorbidities.

The law also means that those who’ve already taken the decision to be vegetarian or vegan can go to the hospital knowing that they’ll be able to have their food choices respected, and hopefully others will be inspired to choose the veg option.  California passed a similar law last year, focusing on the health benefits of plant-based eating, but they also recognized that the increased availability of vegetable-based dietary options would help the state meet its water conservation goals.

So far, Washington state appears to only provide nutrient guidelines for institutions based on the outdated 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and there is no specific requirement to provide vegetarian and vegan options, leaving those staying in institutions with limited options.  It’s time for these guidelines to be updated, for the best health for Washingtonians.