Berkeley, Calif. Sept. 19, 2018 – Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday afternoon signed into law S.B. 1138, legislation to require that state-licensed healthcare facilities and state prisons provide plant-based food options to patients and currently incarcerated individuals. Friends of the Earth sponsored the legislation.

Friends of the Earth applauds State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) for authoring this first-of-its-kind law.

“Providing patients and currently incarcerated individuals with a plant-based option is critical to ensuring their rights to healthy foods that meet religious, ethical and dietary needs,” said Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director, food and agriculture at Friends of the Earth. “Beyond the benefit to health and personal choice, serving more plant-based foods in California’s large institutions is essential for the state to reduce its climate impact and conserve water.”

“California’s hospitals and prisons house some of the most vulnerable populations who are already at high risk for chronic health conditions,” said Eric Henderson, Policy Associate at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “Creating access to healthier food options is a common-sense solution that benefits everyone. We commend Governor Brown and Senator Skinner for their leadership on this issue.”

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that reducing consumption of animal products is one of the highest-impact strategies for mitigating agriculture’s warming effects on the climate and other negative impacts on our environment.

Research has demonstrated that rates of illness are far higher among people who are incarcerated. Diets high in plant-based foods have been linked to lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

California’s new law is part of a national trend towards offering more plant-based food options in public institutions as a means of improving public health and mitigating climate change.

Friends of the Earth fights to protect our environment and create a healthy and just world. We speak truth to power and expose those who endanger people and the planet. Our campaigns work to hold politicians and corporations accountable, transform our economic systems, protect our forests and oceans, and revolutionize our food & agriculture systems.