There is a big demand for plant-based meals in hospital settings, and while this demand has not been met in Australia yet, watch this space, hospitals in New York are now offering plant-based meals to patients. It's about time too!
New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, recently signed a bill requiring all New York hospitals to offer plant-based meal options to their patients. This is great news as Australia and other countries around the world are likely to soon follow suit, as more and more businesses recognise the growing demand for plant-based options.
Over recent months we are seeing many businesses both internationally and within Australia jumping on the plant-based bandwagon. Aussie food manufacturer Soulfresh’s Eaty range of plant-based meats were introduced to Coles in June, with the company's CEO proudly announcing that “rubbery, bland” vegan sausages will soon be a thing of the past.
Woolworths also followed suit in October, launching their "Beyond Meat" range of vegan products into stores nationwide. Unfortunately, they decided to place their product alongside the meat products which angered many customers. This is soon to be rectified.
The demand for vegan and vegetarian food has grown exponentially over the last few years. This shift in consumer behaviour has partially been fuelled, or let's say "jumpstarted" by films like Cowspiracy, What the Health and "The Game Changers". Consumers are demanding more transparency, better taste and more plant-based options when it comes to food choices, and companies are finally beginning to listen.
Australia is leading the charge when it comes to the growing vegan market. It is the third-fastest growing vegan market in the world with 9.6% growth between 2015-2020. By 2020 the packaged vegan food market is set to read $215 million.
"An increasing number of companies are expanding their consumer appeal by staying away from animal ingredients whenever possible. The rising demand and trend for vegetarian and vegan proteins indicates where the market is moving right now."
Ewa Hudson (Head of Health and Wellness, Euromonitor International).
Last year, Roy Morgan revealed that the number of Australians who eat ‘all or mostly vegetarian’ has risen from 1.7 million to 2.1 million in just four years.
Google Trends also stated that Australia topped Google’s worldwide searches for the word ‘vegan’ in 2016 and in Sydney and Melbourne there are vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurants popping up left, right and centre.
"It's something fine-dining chefs get quite excited by because it offers them a whole new arena for creativity. Further down the food chain, there's a younger market emerging that loves going out somewhere casual for a drink and a vegan snack, hence the rise of vegan burgers in which jackfruit replaces pulled pork."
Australian Financial Review Food Editor, Jill Dupleix (director of Australia's Top Restaurants Awards)
This is all great news, and we would love to see more hospitals follow the lead of New York. Heart disease currently accounts for 40% of deaths and 1.7 million Australians have diabetes. In hospital settings where patients are already suffering from poor health and are often prescribed heavy medications, it's critical that they receive the nutrients they need through their food. The New York bill is requiring all hospitals to have a list on their menu with all plant-based options written out, along with having meals or snacks with no animal products readily available upon request.
The bill was sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, (PCRM) a non-profit group based in Washington, D.C., which focuses on improving lives through plant-based diets and ethical research. The committee also helped pass similar bills in California and D.C., creating more options for plant-based meals and eliminating highly-processed foods like bacon and hot dogs from hospital menus.
Director of nutrition education for the PCRM Susan Levin says, "By making plant-based meals the law in hospitals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put New York on the forefront of a growing movement to ensure that hospitals provide patients healthy, plant-based meals to fight heart disease, diabetes, and obesity."
With great news like this, our hope is that Australia is the next to follow suit and start providing more healthy plant-based alternatives within our hospital system and beyond.