14 Hospitals Accept Challenge To Combat Climate Change

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is challenging hospitals to serve less meat in order to help reduce greenhouse gases. Hospitals that take the Balanced Menus Challenge pledge to reduce the amount of meat they serve by 20 percent within 12 months of accepting the challenge.

As HCWH points out, meat and dairy production accounts for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, more than all of Earth’s cars, trains, and planes put together. Going meatless, at least for one day a week, may be the most important thing anyone can do to reduce their carbon footprint.

So far, at least 14 hospitals are participating in the Balanced Meals initiative, serving less meat to patients and in the cafeterias. If the comments in HCWH’s press release are any indication, these institutions are very enthusiastic about the endeavor, not only because it helps halt global warming and promote good health, but also because it is easy and cost effective.

As Linda Hansen, the director of nutrition services at St. Joseph Health System in Sonoma County, California, said  “It was amazingly simple to make an impact on our carbon footprint by starting with small changes that were easy to implement and working our way up to the patient menu which is more complicated. Almost immediately, cafeteria customers began requesting more vegetarian and vegan options.  By implementing Balanced Menus, we are able to remain cost neutral, or even sometimes achieve savings for the hospital, not to mention the savings to our healthcare system that result from providing patients, staff and visitors healthier foods.”

This program makes sense on so many levels. By serving more vegetarian foods, hospitals can not only help halt climate change and reduce air and water pollution, they can truly help save lives. Vegetarians are known to have lower rates of heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and certain cancers. And since hospitals are supposed to help stop pain and suffering, it’s only logical for them to serve meatless meals. After all, there’s enough death at the hospital to start with—who wants part of a dead animal on their plate?   

It seems the only benefit to serving meat at the hospital is that guests are in the right place for angioplasty or bypass surgery after they eat one too many fatty, cholesterol-laden meals.

I admire HCWH for launching this impressive initiative and hope more and more hospitals will take the challenge. If you work at a hospital or other health care facility, why not sign up or propose the idea to the staff and administrators?



Cooper Medical Center


LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

Casey Broughton
Casey Broughton7 years ago

I'm glad this has happened and I'm proud of these hospitals for taking the iniciative. I would venture to guess that it is not only good for the patients at the hospitals but also beneficial to the hospitals.

Glenneth L.
Glenneth L7 years ago

A couple people here suggest that their Dr. is whom they should look to for eating advice. What they may not know is that Dr. life span is significantly shorter than the population @ whole. And .. there is VERY little nutrition training in becoming a Dr. Just the normal disease care information. I am a meat eater , BUT know that a vegetarian lifestyle is best. You still need to make good choices even if vegetarian . If you eat meat , organic should be the 1st choice prior to most other food bought. ( VERY toxic industry ) And I suspect no hospital is taking that step.

Selwyn R.
Selwyn R7 years ago

Jim H, you better get darn used to it because it's a FACT that eating meat IS BAD FOR YOU. Vegetarians outperform and outlive meat eaters. Sorry to break the good news to you. Open your mind, research and try not eating meat for a month. As long as you eat a balanced diet you will have more energy, feel lighter and more positive and act in the most powerful way you can to halt global warming and environmental degradation. The reason we are in such peril is precisely because of the kind of attitude you espouse. Sorry, if we want to survive as a species, we all have to drop this "I can do what I want" attitude. For the greater good, we must all change our lives, because nearly all our actions have global consequences. Jim H, I invite you to GET WITH THE PROGRAM BUDDY!!!
And absolutely HOORAY for HCWH!!!

.Mike P.
mike P7 years ago

People are very wasted by the disease process cause them use allot calories. You cavn give vegetarian option But most people eat and very sick people need it.

Katie Moore
Katie Moore7 years ago

Growing animals for meal production is a major
polluter and directly related to climate and environment. I am more than pleased to see hospitals switch to a plant based menu. In MD
the school system is taking the same approach
with Meatless Monday.

Pam Kershaw
Pamela W7 years ago

I think the article was mainly about climate change? And the hospitals are only being asked to reduce the meat they serve, not cut it out altogether, so why is Jim H having a go at vegetarians? Incidentally a lot of research (Oxford University and the World Health Organisation) has shown that vegetarians and vegans are healthier, which is not to say that meat-eaters can't be, before anyone objects! I've been a vegan for 32 years, so obviously meat is not "essential to normal body function" - I'm not quite sure why anyone should think it is.

Jim H.
Jim H.7 years ago

I get so tired of hearing about how bad meat is for us. As a personal trainer I can tell you that it is essential to normal body function. People who eat meat are more hearty than their vegetarian counterparts. It should be my choice if I eat meat or not and how much. If a person chooses lean meat, their cholesterol level does not rise. Heather, you need to do some additional research on people that eat meat and live very long and healthy lives. Even the Bible says meat is good for you. So let's argue with God about it.