Hayek Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon, has identified a plant-based diet as a natural step along the pathway to recovery and optimal health, becoming the first hospital in the world to serve vegan-only meals to its patients. The hospital launched this plant-based nutritional program on March 1st, deciding that patients should not wake up to meals that could advance the health issues that brought them to the hospital in the first place.

Previously, Hayek Hospital offered patients a choice between vegan or animal-based meals. The hospital provided patients with information that explained the health benefits of plant-based foods and warned against a diet that contains animal products. After this transitory period, the hospital decided to provide the information but stop serving the animal products at all.

“Our patients will no longer wake up from surgery to be greeted with ham, cheese, milk....the very food[s] that may have contributed to their health problems in the first place,” Hayek Hospital wrote in an Instagram post.

The hospital explained this decision, claiming that the animal products that were previously served were classified as carcinogenic. As a medical institution, Hayek Hospital wishes to enhance the health of its patients fully, rather than continuing a patient’s unhealthy habits.

“When the World Health Organization classifies processed meat as a group 1A carcinogenic–the same group as tobacco–and red meat as Group 2A carcinogenic, then serving meat in a hospital is like serving cigarettes in a hospital,” the hospital continued. “When adopting a plant-based diet has been scientifically proven not only to stop the evolution of certain diseases but also reverse them.”

Dr. Saray Stancic is just one example of a medical professional who avocates for the benefits of a plant-based diet. The M.D. says that switching to a diet free of animal products helped her overcome her MS. Dr. Stancic received a prognosis with little hope but instead of waiting, she decided to act by changing her dietary lifestyle. Her story is now the subject of the documentary, Code Blue, where she discusses how medicine’s greatest tool is rarely one that is prescribed.

Around the world, hospitals are adopting these practices. San Francisco, California is pushing towards a reduction of meat and animal products in public hospitals. The general move to cut out meat is being noticed by medical professionals who understand the nutritional value of meals that include lots of plant-based foods. Although Hayek Hospital is the only one that has completely stopped offering animal products, other hospitals and government institutions are making changes and moving to more plant-forward models.

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