Senator Skinner’s SB 1138 would offer plant-based meal options in hospitals and prisons

April 25, 2018

Senator Skinner’s SB 1138 would offer plant-based meal options in hospitals and prisons

Today, Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) held a press conference to highlight her bill SB 1138, which would ensure that institutions including hospitals, nursing facilities and prisons offer “plant-based” meal options.

“Whether at school, work or elsewhere, most of us can satisfy our food preferences by bringing a meal from home or preparing one on site; but that choice is rarely available for people in a prison, hospital or nursing facility,” said Skinner. “SB 1138 ensures that a plant-based meal is always available to those in institutional settings.”

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 percent of Americans were interested in decreasing their meat consumption.

But people who are confined to prisons, hospitals or nursing homes aren’t always given the opportunity to choose non-meat options—whether they wish to do so for health, environmental or religious reasons. SB 1138 wouldn’t necessitate the creation of extensive new menus, but would instead require that at least one plant-based meal option be made available.

Offering plant-based options in these institutions also 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 percent reduction in food-related greenhouse gas emissions. And a 2013 study by the British Institute of Mechanical Engineers found that while each pound of beef required over 1,800 gallons of water to produce, tofu only required about 300 gallons of water per pound and pasta only about 222 gallons.

“Offering plant-based meal options is a great way to give people healthy choices and reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions,” said Senator Skinner. “But most importantly, I want to make sure we’re being fair and giving those in institutional settings food options that meet their individual needs.”

Senator Nancy Skinner (@NancySkinnerCA) represents the 9th Senate District. She serves as Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Budget Subcommittee on Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary.