California Legislature Passes Senator Skinner’s SB 1138 to Offer Plant-Based Meal Options in Hospitals, Healthcare Facilities and Prisons

August 30, 2018

Sacramento, CA — With bipartisan support, the California Legislature passed Senator Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) SB 1138, “Ensuring a Plant Based Meal Option,” which would require hospitals, healthcare facilities and prisons to offer “plant-based” meals to people in these institutions.

“By guaranteeing access to plant based food, SB 1138 respects the health, ethical and diet choices of those in hospitals or other institutions who don’t have the option to prepare their own meals,” said Senator Skinner.

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 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.

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 percent reduction in food-related greenhouse gas emissions.

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

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.