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California State Senate Unanimously Passes Bill to Require Vegan Meals in Prisons

The California State Senate has made another historic vote in favor of animal welfare and human health. The governing body unanimously passed a bill, SB 1138, that would require permanent vegan plant-based options in prisons and other public institutions with licensed healthcare facilities.

SB 1138 was authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and supported by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL), two plant-based non-profit organizations lobbying for political action to improve constituent’s health and animal welfare. In a press release issued by PCRM, the founder of SCIL, Judie Mancuso, stated, “The Senate’s unanimous passage of SB 1138 sends a clear message that lawmakers understand the power of a plant-based diet to improve health, save money, and reduce environmental impact—not only in prisons and hospitals, but in all aspects of California life.”

Sen. Skinner also remarked, “Offering plant-based meal options is a great way to give people healthy choices and reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions. But most importantly, I want to make sure we’re being fair and giving those in institutional settings food options that meet their individual needs.” Cafeteria Lunch Tray

Beyond catering to constituents’ dietary preferences, plant-based options may prove to be extremely cost-efficient. Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., and director of nutrition education for PCRM explained, “Providing plant-based meals won’t just help patients and prisoners fight obesity, diabetes, and heart disease; it could save hospitals and prisons thousands of dollars a year.” As prisons are required to offer basic healthcare for all inmates, taking proactive steps to ensure the health of their ward could drastically reduce medical costs. Plant-based meals may also help reduce unnecessary spending, as vegan meals cost about 50 percent less on average than meat-based meals, according to a St. Joseph’s Health System report.

The California State Senate has already demonstrated concern over animal welfare and environmental issues, based on recent voting trends. Last month, it passed the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act to ban the sale of all animal-tested cosmetics in the state. The Senate also passed a bill to phase out driftnets, which cause deleterious effects on marine life and contributes to bycatch.

SB 1138 now moves on to the Assembly for a committee hearing on June 19.


Image Credit: Social Compassion in Legislation