The Less Meat, Better Meat approach is a two-tiered strategy for hospitals to reduce their meat and poultry purchases, and invest their cost savings in sustainable meat options.
The reasons for implementing the Less Meat, Better Meat approach are profound and compelling:
- Most hospitals buy substantial amounts of meat, typically through large distributors who source from the U.S. commodity beef, pork, and poultry markets.
- Significant public and environmental health costs are associated with industrialized meat and poultry production and distribution, including antibiotic resistance, air and water contamination, and global climate change through methane and transportation emissions.
- Americans eat more than twice the global average for meat consumption. Hospital foodservice operations often mirror this trend.
By balancing hospital menus to favor less and better meat, hospitals can provide health, social, and environmental benefits that are consistent with prevention-based medicine. By providing nutritionally-appropriate portion sizes for patients, staff, and visitors they model healthy eating. By supporting sustainable meat and poultry production through their purchasing they incentivize production practices that are better for farm communities, consumers, and the environment.
Our report Redefining Protein: Adjusting Diets to Protect Public Health and Conserve Resources and the associated Purchasing Considerations helps guide the complex decision-making process encountered when applying an environmental nutrition approach to food purchases, specifically when reducing and replacing meat on the plate.
- Purchase protein sources optimal for human and environmental health
- Educate your hospital patients, visitors, and staff about the import steps you are taking to promote health and prevention
- Utilize these educational materials for dietitians to assist with outreach
- Plan recipes for your food service using this toolkit to create meals that meet nutritional and sustainability criteria
- Track your purchasing to measure your impact and celebrate success
- Track your progress toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions at your facility
- Redefining Protein, Adjusting Diets to Protect Public Health and Conserve Resources, a report that distills current research to reveal the human, environmental, and social impacts of the production of high-protein foods other than meat to arm hospitals with key information to design the healthiest plate.
- Balanced Menus Brochure, a primer explaining the Less Meat, Better Meat approach
- Balanced Menus: A Pilot Evaluation of Implementation in Four San Francisco Bay Area Hospitals
- Health Care’s Commitment to Sustainable Meat Procurement: Four Case Studies
- "Hospitals Say "No" To Meat Raised With Antibiotics," a Civil Eats article about the success of a Less Meat, Better meat approach in the Bay Area