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NHS Meat-free Strategy

02 February 2009
EBLEX

UK - A strategy document from the NHS on climate change put forward the idea of promoting meat-free menus in hospitals to save greenhouse gases.

This idea, first published in The Guardian, did not meet with the enthusiastic approval of either BPEX or EBLEX. In response, chief executives Mick Sloyan and Richard Lowe sent a letter.

"Sir, Does the NHS exist to help patients get well? After reading yesterday’s front page story on plans to scrap meat from hospital menus we are starting to wonder," began the letter.

"Red meat has an important role to play as part of a healthy balanced diet and is even more important to those who are unwell, as it contains iron and zinc which is vital for healing.

"Simply taking meat off hospital menus not only undermines convalescence but also smacks of a simplistic, knee-jerk reaction to what is a very complex issue. "

The Government has laid down minimum standards for schools serving meat - as growing children need a healthy balanced diet – in the same way hospital patients do for recovery.

Though the letter wasn’t published, the NHS director of sustainability Dr David Pencheon did have a letter published which began: "There are absolutely no plans to completely remove meat from NHS menus." A reassuring move but work will continue.

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