“Recognition from the US Conference of Mayors that plant-based approaches hold substantial power to positively impact our public health and environmental outcomes is a critical step forward that will advance public action.”
Local governments in the US have finally started to recognize the positive impact that a plant-based diet can have on both human and planetary health.
At the recently held 91st annual US Conference of Mayors, elected officials of 1,400 cities with a population of over 30,000 agreed to follow New York City’s lead in promoting more plant-based food. They hoped this will address growing problems like sickness, climate change, and healthcare costs.
“With New York at the frontline of plant-based promotion in our schools, hospitals, and agencies, we aim to lead by example and start conversations that lead to action on how other mayors and cities can apply our best practices and lessons learned to their communities,” New York mayor Eric Adams said.
What is the US Conference of Mayors?
The US Conference of Mayors is the official non-partisan organization of cities established in 1931. The annual event is a way for mayors from different US cities to talk, make rules, share thoughts, and speak up for what their people need. It works as an effective platform for people from different political parties to work together on important problems.
Western diet – the leading cause of lifestyle diseases
This year, a big problem plaguing Americans is chronic diseases. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60% of US adults suffer from a chronic disease, and 40% have two or more such conditions, including heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes.
The US spends nearly $4.1 trillion annually on healthcare and a major chunk of it is spent on taking care of these diseases.
The plant-based resolution
To address the current trajectory of chronic diseases – coupled with rising healthcare costs and the climate crisis, mayors agreed on the resolution modeled after the initiatives undertaken in NYC under Adams’ leadership.
“This acknowledgment goes beyond understanding and fuels action and accountability as mayors must lead the charge in developing public and private partnerships with our communities, agencies, hospital systems, providers, and community-based organizations, among others to be successful in addressing these multifaceted issues,” Adams said.
The resolution involves exploring the opportunity of adding more plant food options at places where the city government provides food to people like schools, hospitals, and social services.
It further includes educating the public about the benefits of eating more plant-based food. The city government will also study how food choices affect the environment and incorporate more plant-based food to make people healthier and help the environment. They will also use this intervention to save money in the short and long term.
The mayoral resolution alluded to the numerous studies that show how plant foods can have a positive impact on public health and the planet
A new research study found that people who eat more plants can live up to 25% longer and be healthier by reducing the risk of getting sick.
Another study from Oxford University found that eating more plants is also good for the planet. Compared to eating a lot of meat, a plant-based diet can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, land usage, and water pollution by 75%.
The new plan endorsed a “plant-predominant” diet as one that includes “whole, minimally processed fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.”
“Recognition from the US Conference of Mayors that plant-based approaches hold substantial power to positively impact our public health and environmental outcomes is a critical step forward that will advance public action,” Adams said.
According to the United Nations Environment Program, a plant-based shift over the next 25 years could reduce food-related mortality and greenhouse gas emissions by 10% and 70%, respectively.
Mayor Eric Adams shows the way
Mayor Adams has been at the forefront of NYC’s plant-forward policies. He transitioned to the diet in 2016 and witnessed dramatic improvement in his health, which was beaten by type 2 diabetes.
Since then, he has been using his platform to promote plant-based diets in New York City. In addition to promoting lifestyle medicine programs, he introduced vegan options to public schools, hospitals, and other government buildings.
In May, The NYC Health Department launched a “Eat A Whole Lot More Plant” drive calling New Yorkers to eat more vegan food.
“With the ‘Eat A Whole Lot More Plants’ campaign, we are continuing the important work of transforming New Yorkers’ menus, improving their health, and building a more sustainable world,” Adams said at the time.
“A plant-based lifestyle transformed my life, and helped put my type 2 diabetes into remission.”
He added: “By embracing the power of plants, and ensuring every neighborhood across our city has both the knowledge and the access to healthy foods, we can cultivate a healthier future, one plant-based meal at a time.”
Mayor Adams also teamed up with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) to roll out a $44 million lifestyle medicine training scheme (that includes plant-based nutrition) for the city’s doctors.
“Treating the root cause of chronic disease in this country, and especially lifestyle-related chronic disease health disparities, will positively change the trajectory of both quality of life and health costs,” Dr. Cate Collings, a previous president of ACLM, commented at the time.
“We applaud Mayor Adams and all the health care leaders in the city for recognizing what an impact they can make through this initiative.”
Praising the US Conference of Mayors’ decision to adopt the plant-based resolution, ACLM President Beth Frates, MD, told VegNews: “The resolution also is in alignment with our position on the interface of human and planetary health, which acknowledges that the leading cause of chronic disease and the leading cause of so many of our most pressing global sustainability issues is one and the same: our Western dietary pattern.”
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