Sacramento, CA — Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senator Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) SB 1138, “Ensuring a Plant Based Meal Option,” requiring hospitals, healthcare facilities and prisons to offer plant-based meals to people in these institutions.
“Whether to protect animals, our climate or our health, those of us who choose to eat a vegan diet can celebrate today with Governor Brown’s signing of SB 1138,” said Senator Skinner. “SB 1138 ensures that people in hospitals, healthcare facilities or prison have access to plant-based meals.”
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.
“Thanks to Senator Skinner and Governor Brown for this historic law to provide plant-based options to hospital patients looking to fight heart disease, diabetes, and obesity—or who simply want a more healthful meal,” said Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C.
"We are elated that Governor Brown sees the value in offering plant-based meals in prisons and medical facilities," said Judie Mancuso, president and founder of Social Compassion in Legislation, the sponsor of SB 1138. "Plant-based foods are key to better health outcomes, fighting climate change and reducing the number of animals in our food production."
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.
“There’s a basic human right to nutritious food that meets 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.