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California Passes Law Guaranteeing Plant-Based Meals For Hospital Patients

By Kristin Hunt

Hospital patients and prison inmates in California are about to gain better access to vegan meals. On September 18, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law requiring public institutions that “provide food to ‘captive audiences’” to make plant-based foods available to everyone in their care — and as the law underlines, “plant-based” means absolutely no animal products or byproducts.

Under the provisions of SB 1138, these meals must be devoid of meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs. The law applies to all kinds of licensed health care facilities, ranging from psychiatric and general care hospitals to nursing centers, as well as state jails. 

California State Senator Nancy Skinner wrote the bill, which was co-sponsored by two nonprofits. One was the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group that represents 12,000 doctors lobbying for better nutrition and research methods. The other was Social Compassion in Legislation, which advocates for legislation that protects animals.