Politics & Law

Los Angeles County Implements Plant-Based Food Policy to Tackle Environmental and Health Concerns

Los Angeles County has enacted a new plant-based policy addressing environmental, public health, and animal welfare concerns. The legislation, initiated by supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Hilda L. Solis, mandates a comprehensive shift towards plant-based food in the county’s food service provider contracts.

Mercy For Animals worked closely with Horvath’s office to develop the policy, which encompasses Health Services, Parks and Recreation, and Public Works departments and includes updates to nutritional standards, recommendations for plant-based procurement, and tracking greenhouse gas emissions.

“The production of animal products generates 90% more greenhouse gases than plant-based alternatives”

Leah Garces, president at Mercy for Animals, announced the development on social media:  “We at MFA call for enactment and enforcement of animal protection laws and a shift to a plant-based food system. As more Americans choose plant-based food for health, environmental protection, and animal welfare, public purchasing must reflect this shift. Mercy For Animals greatly appreciates Supervisors Horvath and Solis for sponsoring this policy change and the county’s commitment to providing healthy plant-based options to residents who benefit from county food programs.”

Indian veggie food
© ashtproductions – stock.adobe.com

Data-driven decisions

The policy motion states that “According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 7.2 billion tons of GHG emissions came from farming and land use, producing crops and livestock, processing, transportation, and household consumption and waste in 2019. The production of animal products generates 90% more greenhouse gases than plant-based alternatives.”

It further cites similar successful implementations in cities and universities, including New York City’s public hospitals and UCLA Health, which have seen reduced costs and GHG emissions alongside increased patient satisfaction by offering plant-based food options. 

The policy motion outlines specific actions, such as directing the Department of Public Health to update Nutritional Standards for Prepared Foods, Snacks, and Beverages based on evidence supporting plant-based recommendations. The Board expects a report within 120 days detailing updates, strategies to increase plant-based options, and recommendations to reduce the county’s food purchasing carbon footprint. 

School cafeteria meal
© Africa Studio – stock.adobe.com

Prioritizing plant-based

It also instructs the Department of Health Services to provide data on meat versus plant-based food products contracted to vendors, intending to shift procurement towards more sustainable and health-promoting options. The overall objective is to prioritize plant-based and plant-forward foods in county food services, focusing on improving health outcomes, addressing climate change, and achieving economic goals.

Garces concludes, “This collaboration marks a significant victory for Mercy For Animals. Los Angeles County, being the most populous county in the United States, amplifies the profound impact of this decision!”

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