Meatless Monday: An RX for Unhealthy Hospital Food
We recently learned some surprising things about hospital food nutrition, like that many of the meals available to patients and their guests are loaded with sodium, fat, and cholesterol—the kind of fare that contributes to heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions that can land people in the hospital in the first place.
But not all medical centers deserve a scolding. Several are taking progressive measures to make their food more nourishing, and many of these efforts involve adding more vegetarian-friendly foods to cafeteria menus. “The silver lining for all the diseases you see in hospitals is that there is a solution, and it’s essentially free. It involves changing diet and lifestyle,” says Susan Levin, RD, director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization. Here are some examples of initiatives that deserve a thumbs up:
-To date, 396 hospitals have signed a pledge with Health Care Without Harm, vowing to scale back the amount of processed food they serve and offer more fresh, organic fruits and vegetables instead.
-In 2011, Sodexo, which provides food to approximately 900 hospitals, joined the Meatless Monday movement.
-Last year, the only hospital-based vegan restaurant in the country opened its doors inside Portland’s Adventist Medical Center. LivingWell Bistro is the brainchild of chef Bo Rinaldi, co-author of Vegan Fusion World Cuisine. Rinaldi has been a vegan for 52 years and gave up animal products at age 12 to cure his own asthma and allergies. The eatery offers a menu full of dishes made from local, organic, and sustainably-grown ingredients. “If it’s out of the ground for more than a day, I don’t want to serve it,” says Rinaldi. For $3 to $6 each, hospital visitors can swing by the eatery for items like tofu breakfast scramble, chia Caesar salad, quinoa bowls, and black bean soft tacos.
Related: 8 Reasons Why Hospital Food Needs a Nutritious Makeover
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