Animal Save Movement is urging hospitals to switch to a plant-based menu for the earth, for our health and especially for the animals. You can help make this a reality by contacting your local hospital and asking them to transition to a plant-based menu. Feel free to adapt our letter template below or include your own experiences to add a personal touch.
If you get a response to your letter, please forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Just How Bad is Hospital Food?
Dear Catering Manager,
I am writing to ask [Hospital name] to see if you would be interested in seeing how you can help benefit your patient’s health and planetary health by transitioning to a plant-based menu. As a hospital committed to the well-being of your patients as well as the sustainability and efficiency of your operation, the many benefits of a plant-based menu in health care will be of interest to your hospital.
There are hospitals already taking this decisive action. In march 2021 Hayek Hospital1, in Beirut, released the statement, “We believe it’s well about time to tackle the root cause of diseases and pandemics, not just treat the symptoms. For our health. For our planet. For our fellow earthlings.”
According to the World Health Organization2, non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs) kill 40M people every year. This accounts for approximately 74% of all deaths. At the same time, there is clear evidence that dietary factors are the greatest modifiable risk factor for NCDs. In fact, a recent Oxford University3 study found the consumption of meat was associated with higher risks of multiple NCDs – the very conditions most patients are hospitalized for.
Research has linked plant-based diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. It is not consistent with your mission to serve patients who are with you to heal the very foods that likely caused many of their conditions.
In recent years, you have likely also noticed an increase in the number of sensitivities, intolerances, allergies, and even anaphylaxis to eggs and dairy. These dietary restrictions pose challenges, and risks, to food service organizations. Borrowing from the accessibility movement, by taking a universal design approach to menu planning, the maximum number of patients can be served a single meal without accommodation. This makes a plant-based menu the safest, most inclusive, and most efficient option for organizations engaged in large scale food service.
In addition to improved efficiency and reduced risk to the safety and well-being of patients, a plant-based menu can also provide substantial savings to the overall food budget of an organization. In fact, by incorporating plant-based proteins and serving water as the healthy beverage of choice, as recommended in the 2019 Canada Food Guide, food budgets can be expected to be reduced by 10-20%.
The nonprofit organization Health Care Without Harm4 reports that the climate footprint of the health care sector contributes to 4.4% of global emissions and that nearly 75% of that is a direct result of the healthcare supply chain, including food. Additionally, we know that animal agriculture is responsible for increasing antibiotic resistance5 and zoonotic diseases that pose a serious threat to human health.
The good news is that all these challenges provide you with the opportunity to show leadership by transitioning to a plant-based menu for the health, safety, and inclusion or your patients; for the health of the public and the planet; and for the financial sustainability of your operation.
The transition to a plant-based menu in health care settings is a matter of urgency for all the reasons noted. Here are some steps you can take as you begin the transition to a plant-based menu:
- The best thing you can do for patients is to be a leader and serve only plant-based meals as a matter of urgency.
- If you are not able to do this right away, here are some steps to help you transition to a plant-based menu:
• Commit to increasing plant-based menu options for patients
• Include health warnings on meals containing animal products to help patients make healthier choices
• Make the plant-based option the default option when patients haven’t selected a meal option
• Help educate patients about the health benefits of a plant-based diet
Animal Save Movement(ASM) has a mission to promote and make accessible a plant-based diet to solve the epidemic of preventable diseases and improve the quality of life in our community. ASM would be happy to provide you with recipes, menu planning, resources, and nutritional experts to support you with your transition to a plant-based menu.
- The Planetary Press. March 16, 2021. This Hospital Just Became the First in the World to Serve Only Plant-Based Food
- World Health Organization. (2021, February 3). Michael R. Bloomberg and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus call for global focus on noncommunicable diseases to save lives from COVID-19.
- Papier, K., Fensom, G.K., Knuppel, A. et al. 2021
- 11 Hostpital Food Champions Told Us What Plant Forward Means to Them
- Ranganathan, J., Vennard, D., Waite, R., Dumas, P., Lipinski, B., Searchinger, T., & Globagri-WRR Model Authors. (2016). Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future. International Food Policy Research Institute.