Can one plagiarize one’s self? I hope not because my message
for this issue is a letter I sent to an area hospital about their food choices.
The autumn issue of Good Medicine magazine
www.pcrm.org/magazine/ , published
by the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine has an article about
hospital food. I had already decided to write this before the magazine arrived,
but after reading the article it became a must do. If you are inspired to do
something similar, please contact me. Here is my letter:
“As I write this I am looking at your menu for one Thursday in
October. Hypocrates (author of the oath taken by all new physicians) said ‘Let
your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.’ Your selections make
this difficult to do.
“Dairy abounds, and no alternatives such as soy, rice or nut
milks are offered. Yogurt, cream cheese, milk, half-and-half, ice cream,
pudding, cottage cheese, as well as cream of tomato and cream of mushroom soup
are on the menu. All of these foods are unsuitable for patients who are lactose
intolerant. Dairy products also contain casein (a gluey substance that causes
mucus production and constipation); animal fat (which, of course, is the source
of cholesterol); and animal protein (that is designed to nourish baby calves,
not humans). Moreover, dairy products are implicated in arthritis, menstrual
problems, allergies, asthma and diabetes. Although most of us were brought up to
believe that dairy is a “perfect food” for people, we are the only species that
consumes milk after having been weaned and also consumes the milk of another
“All the cereals on the menu are made with refined grains, as
is the only hot cereal choice. The margarine offered in the breakfast selections
does not state that it is non-hydrogenated. The only fresh fruit offered is
banana. All of the lunch and dinner entrees feature animal products. Chicken
broth is the alternative to the creamed soups.
Mashed potatoes are listed, and they no doubt contain butter
or margarine and milk. Along with white bread and bagels, rye and wheat bread
are offered but, judging from what I saw in the cafeteria, they are not true
whole grains. As a vegan who consumes no animal products and avoids refined
grains, it would be impossible for me to choose any well-balanced meals.
“Much research exists connecting the consumption of animal
products with heart and circulatory problems, diabetes, arthritis and other
chronic health conditions. The main dishes of pot roast, beef cubes, chicken,
turkey and tuna all contain cholesterol and no fiber. No vegan dishes are
offered. There are side dish vegetables of beets, carrots and green beans but I
do not know if these contain added fat.
“I saw this menu while visiting a patient in your hospital.
Although vegan meals were ordered, pasta with cheese was brought for dinner and
cereal with milk and white bread and butter for breakfast.
“When I went to the cafeteria there was a large sign on the
door extolling the heart disease program. Yet the food offered was much the same
as the patient menu. There were many dairy and meat dishes and no vegan entree
or alternatives to dairy. All of the pasta dishes contained cheese. I heard
someone order a veggieburger. It was not on the menu board and I asked about it.
I learned that it was prepared on the same grill as the meat items and there was
no other method of preparation available.
“There was a salad bar with several kinds of vegetables and
some non-dairy dressings, the only truly healthful choice.I did not see any
nutrition information offered.
“It seems to me that a hospital cafeteria that offers some
truly healthful food choices could also have education materials available. A
low-fat, high-fiber vegan diet has been shown to be helpful in both preventing
and reversing many conditions. Hospitals ought to be more involved in this
important aspect of health education.
“I am enclosing an article entitled ‘Hospital Food: A
prescription for Change’ from the Autumn 2005 issue of Good Medicine, published
by The Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine.
It concludes, “By making a few simple changes, U.S. hospitals
could take a leadership role in promoting good health. As the Hippocratic oath
begins ‘First, Do no Harm.’
Re-cap of recent events:
The fall of 2005 was productive and energizing. In September
we had a dinner at Cafe Gabriel in Kingston, a relaxing evening allowing us to
gear up for a busy October and November. In October, we sold vegan food in honor
of World Farm Animals Day at the Milan Community Day, which was organized by
Judi Gelardi. We held the second annual chile dinner at
the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Kingston to commemorate Vegetarian Awareness
Month. Our Activity Day at the Milan Town Hall featured a cooking class with
Maribeth Abrams and readings of Rynn Berry’s original plays about vegetarian
heroes and heroines. We also tabled at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market.
November found us at the Dutchess Community College Health
Fair (thanks Louella and Earl Prochaska). For Thanksgiving, we had our potluck
at the Milan Town Hall. Once more, as she has for more than ten years, Jean
Daniels organized, shopped, and worked from early morning to night getting
everything together but she could not have done it without the efforts of many
others. These include Connie Young, Pat Valusek, Andy Grimm, Carol Popp, Judi
Gelardi, Gib Hauge, Michael Hauge, Rae Schlecht, Leif
Erich, Luella Winne, Jen Van Alstine, Carol McCarron, Nancy Furstinger, and Lisa
Rickerman. Thanks to Mother Earth’s Storehouse and
Rhinebeck Health Food for their donations.
2006 opened with a sold-out event at CJ’s Italian restaurant
in Rhinebeck. Our many guests enjoyed a sumptuous feast of Italian favorites
gone vegan and a stirring reading by Roberta Kalechofsky
from her book, “Job Enters a Pain Clinic.”
Thanks to everyone who attended recent events. We invite you
to be part of our upcoming events.
Roberta Schiff, President