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Press Releases

NYC Health + Hospitals Takes Meatless Mondays Pledge at Its 11 Public Health System Hospitals

Expansion of plant-based menu options is a part of a larger effort to encourage healthy lifestyles, reduce disease risk, and improve health outcomes

Jan 14, 2019

At Meatless Monday launch event are: Bruce Mendes, Patient Services Manager, NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island; William A. Brown, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island; Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO, NYC Health + Hospitals; Maritza Owens, CEO, Harvest Home Farmer's Market; Brooklyn Borough President, Eric L. Adams; Whitney Ahneman, Clinical Nutrition Manager NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island; Charles Smith, General Manager, Cook Chill Plant, NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island.
New York, NY

NYC Health + Hospitals has launched Meatless Mondays at all 11 of its acute care hospitals, in an effort to provide a broader range of healthy, appealing meal options and introduce the benefits of plant-based nutrition to inpatients to help them make important lifestyle decisions to lead their healthiest lives. The new plant-based items will be added to the regular menu to expand options for patients.

Promoted with the slogan “Power Up with Plants,” Meatless Monday meals will offer tasty options such as black bean soup, spaghetti and garden bolognese sauce, three bean chili, vegan beefless strips, garden burger, rice and beans, cream of potato soup, assorted fruits, and hummus. New Meatless Monday meal choices will be introduced over time to keep the program fresh.

“We want to empower our patients to live their healthiest lives by introducing them to healthier foods that they may choose once they’re discharged,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. “The Meatless Mondays initiative is consistent with this mission and fits with our new Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals Bellevue, developed to provide intensive support for outpatients who wish to adopt healthy lifestyle changes.”

Brooklyn Borough President, Eric L. Adams, an ardent advocate for plant-based diets as a lifestyle approach to positive health outcomes, called on all hospitals to sign on to the Meatless Monday pledge, an international campaign focused on improving the health of both individuals and the planet.

“NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the country, is leading the charge to create a healthier and more sustainable future by adopting Meatless Mondays,” said Borough President Adams. “I commend Dr. Katz for his leadership on this issue. By implementing the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, and now Meatless Mondays at all 11 of our public hospitals, he is making quite the legacy, and I am sure this is only the beginning. Our shared goal is to create a healthier Big Apple, one where our government institutions support healthful dietary choices. Hospitals have a unique opportunity to influence patients and families in rethinking the nutritional quality of their meals, and Meatless Mondays now has a role in that conversation.”

“Plant-based diets are the way of the future,” said State Senator Luis Sepúlveda.

“Leaving animal products off the plate is among the best choices a person can make for their health. The science is clear that a balanced plant-based diet helps protect against a host of illnesses, including cancer, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease. I applaud NYC Health + Hospitals for empowering patients to achieve happier and healthier lives through plant-based eating.”

“As someone who abstains from eating meat, this is very exciting news,” said New York City Councilman Justin Brannan. “I wholeheartedly support NYC Health + Hospitals expanding their plant-based menu options and leading by example. Reducing meat consumption is not only good for your health but for the future of our world. Indeed, we are not talking seriously about global warming and climate change unless we are talking about the effects of animal agriculture and meat production on our planet. If the largest public health care system in the nation can do it, you can do it, too!”

“I totally support NYC Health + Hospitals’ Meatless Mondays program,” said New York Council Member Fernando Cabrera. “Powering up with plants is good for everyone, and offering good-tasting healthy food choices is a great way to introduce patients to lifestyle changes that have long-term benefits. As someone whose life was literally saved by adopting a plant-based diet, I have firsthand knowledge of the health benefits of this lifestyle change. This initiative, along with City Council Resolution 238, which I introduced with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams banning processed meats from public school meals, puts us on the right path for a healthier New York.”

“A plant-based diet not only provides enormous health benefits, it’s also good for animal welfare and the environment—using fewer resources and creating less pollution than diets centered around animal products,” said New York City Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “This is why I’ve introduced a resolution in the City Council encouraging New Yorkers to enjoy Meatless Mondays. NYC Health + Hospitals’ launch of Meatless Mondays at all 11 of its acute care hospitals will help scores of New Yorkers live longer and better lives by improving their overall health, and helping to prevent and treat a wide range of diseases. I am thrilled to support this wonderful step forward.”

Dr. Mitchell Katz and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams taste the Spaghetti with Garden Bolognese Sauce, one of the new Meatless Monday options.

About the program

Led by the Food and Nutrition Department at NYC Health + Hospitals, the Meatless Monday program features a chef’s choice of meatless entrées for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Tray cards and brochures introduce the program to patients. Supported by other staff, dietitians offer patient education and counseling, focused on both the inpatient stay and nutrition after discharge.

“In the South Brooklyn community in which we are privileged to serve, data shows high rates of serious chronic conditions such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes,” said William A. Brown, Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island. “The Meatless Monday initiative is one small but powerful step we can take to help our patients make healthier decisions and improve their outcomes. We are grateful for our dietary department and the leadership of Dr. Katz and Borough President Adams for implementing and supporting this common-sense program.”

“When staff came around to explain the Meatless Monday initiative to me, I thought it was a great idea and something I never thought of doing before,” said 54-year-old Stephen Carroll, a patient at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island. “I really liked the three-bean chili, and it gave me some new ideas for what to eat when I get home.”

“For many patients, making changes to their diets and breaking long-standing habits can seem overwhelming; however, Meatless Monday offers the ability for our patients to adopt small changes that can make a big difference over time in reversing or preventing certain chronic conditions,” said Whitney Ahneman, MS, RDN, CDN, CDE, Clinical Nutrition Manager at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island. “We are happy to provide the opportunity for patients in the hospital to try foods that not only taste great, but also can fit seamlessly into a healthy lifestyle moving forward.”

In the first Meatless Mondays offering, on January 7, 1,500 patients at the 11 hospitals opted for one of the Meatless Monday selections. Meatless choices were offered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The number of participating patients is expected to grow.

“Our Food and Nutrition Department is proud to champion Meatless Mondays,” said Michelle McMacken, MD, Director of the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. “The science on plant-based nutrition is extremely compelling. Whether for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, autoimmune disease, brain health, gut health, chronic kidney disease, cancer prevention, or general health, a healthful, plant-based diet can have impressive benefits.”

“Meatless Mondays are the perfect complement to the Farmer’s markets that we have been operating at the doorsteps of six of the health system’s hospitals, since 2010, starting with NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi. It is also consistent with the goals of our Eating for Good Health cooking demonstrations,” said Maritza Owens, CEO from Harvest Home Farmer’s Market. “Like our programs, Meatless Mondays highlights the value of plant-based nutrition and will encourage families to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in their diet.”

“We’re thrilled that NYC Health + Hospitals is joining the Meatless Monday movement!” said Sid Lerner Founder of the Meatless Monday Campaign. “It’s a great way to encourage patients to make small changes in their diet that can add years to their lives.”

“I applaud NYC Health + Hospitals for launching Meatless Mondays,” said Dexter Shurney, MD, MPH, FACLM, President of American College of Lifestyle Medicine. “This is truly a ground-breaking initiative that is sure to make a positive difference in the health of the community. It’s a fact that plant-based nutrition is the foundation for better health care outcomes and ultimately to achieving better health.”

“While all pillars of Lifestyle Medicine are essential to optimal health, evidence shows that food trumps all,” said Susan Benigas, Executive Director of American College of Lifestyle Medicine. “Every bite we take is either one step toward health or one step in the opposite direction. The power of our food choices cannot be underestimated. A plant-predominant dietary lifestyle is most efficacious for the treatment and, often, even reversal of chronic disease.”

“Hospitalization provides a teachable moment, when patients are ready to improve their health by changing their diets, quitting smoking, and taking other steps,” said Neal D. Barnard, MD, FACC President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

“Meatless Mondays are a great way to support that process.”

Meatless Mondays is one of many initiatives introduced recently as part of the Plant-Based Nutrition Program at NYC Health + Hospitals. The next initiative is Enhancement of Vegan and Vegetarian Menu, which focuses on introducing additional healthy menu offerings for patients throughout the week.