Hospitals Taking on Factory Animal Farms and the Meat-Protein Myth

Last week, an NPR story highlighted menu changes at Bay Area hospitals that have the meat industry steaming. For decades nutritionists have warned about meaty diets high in saturated fats. More recently, medical experts have warned that the meat industry’s practices of dosing animals with growth-promoting antibiotics threatens to increase the spread of diseases that cannot be treated with common drugs.

In response to the need for healthier diets and better public health practices, and prompted by the national coalition Health Care Without Harm (HCWH, of which CEH is an active member), several hospitals in our area got together to limit meat items on their menus, and replace meat with more whole foods, and add more fresh produce and whole grains, including organically-grown foods.

Predictably, the meat industry trotted out its tired, old counter-attack. Meat, their spokesperson said, was vital for our protein needs.

Never mind that fifteen years ago, noted nutritionist Marion Nestle debunked this myth, stating that nutritionists “(N)ever talk about protein anymore, because it’s absolutely not an issue, even among children. If anything, we talk about the dangers of high-protein diets. Getting enough is simply a matter of getting enough calories.”

To learn more and get your area’s hospitals involved in reducing their reliance on meat, see HCWH’s Balanced Menus Challenge.