Universal Meals Program Teaching Vegan Meal Prep Across US

Universal Meal Program Vegan Meal Prep Hospital

A new service is offered to assist anyone who desires that vegan cuisine was more widely accessible in hospitals, schools, and prisons. The nonprofit Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and vegan chef Dustin Harder, host of the vegan cooking show The Vegan Roadie, are touring the country this fall to promote their Universal Meals program, which provides advice on vegan cooking and training to institutions like schools, hospitals, and prisons. The top nine allergens have been eliminated from the new plant-based food program, making it simpler for everyone to eat and prepare vegan meals.

Any institution may use the application for free, together with the recipes and instructions. Beginning on October 4 at North Carolina State University, a fall tour of dining hall pop-ups with tablings and taste tests will visit the University of Miami in Miami, FL; Georgia State College and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, GA; Washington State University in Pullman, WA; and Notre Dame University in South Bend, IN. The tour will also stop at Washington State University in Pullman, WA; and Washington State University in Atlanta, GA.

Harder will present at the International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine in Washington, DC today to kick off the tour. He will discuss the significance of Universal Meals, its design, how to translate guidelines into meals, its use today, and its potential in the future. Registered dietician Lillian Correa from NYC Health and Hospitals/Bellevue and Chef David Kamen from the Culinary Institute of America will be working with him to further develop the curriculum.

Vegan meals for all

As the PCRM’s culinary expert, Harder created the curriculum with the intention of making it flexible and easily accessible. No matter what their dietary restrictions are, it has recipes from the Culinary Institute of America, Spork Foods, Inc., DC Vegan Catering, and Harder that are appealing to almost everyone. According to Harder, who works with PCRM on Universal Meals, “I was inspired to work with PCRM on Universal Meals because of their commitment with this program to create a seat for everyone at the table… The recipes streamline production for institutions, including recipes that are cost effective, easy to produce, and most importantly, delicious.” 

The program also provides free marketing materials to promote Universal Meals to customers as well as advice on how to modify a facility’s present meal options to comply with the program’s criteria. The dishes for Universal Meals are exclusive to this vegan meal program and are free of alcohol, gluten-containing grains, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, sesame, milk, eggs, wheat, sesame, tree nuts, soy, and peanuts. A sampling of dishes such Mac and Cheese with Presto Pesto and Shiitake Bacon, Cauliflower and Chickpea Masala, Spinach and Artichoke Flatbread, and Pineapple Basil Sorbet will be available throughout the program’s fall tour.

The Universal Meals program was developed to accommodate the various demands of those who adhere to a particular diet for reasons related to their health, the environment, animal welfare, allergies, cultural or religious traditions, and more. It can be adapted for use in hospitals, jails, and schools, as well as other high-volume enterprises and institutions including hotels, airports, long-term care homes, and others.

“My hope for the future is that institutions that serve high volumes start to navigate from a place of empathy for those living with food allergies and that diners will be able to order food with trust in how it is prepared… I would love to see Universal Meals offered far and wide in hospitals, universities, airports, prisons, and even restaurants,” Harder says. 

Vegan diets in hospitals

Since its start, PCRM, which supports preventative medicine, has promoted a plant-based diet as being healthy. The foundation is also a member of a consortium of five nonprofits that works to offer plant-based food options to hospital patients around the US to help fight conditions including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. In hospitals, PCRM’s registered dietitians, nurses, and doctors present lunch-and-learn sessions and employee wellness initiatives to spread awareness of the benefits of plant-based nutrition.

Along with providing free services, PCRM has promoted suitable nutritional recommendations for people of all races. The organization urged health authorities to acknowledge the health consequences of dairy consumption among people of color before developing the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2020. In a recent letter to the US Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services, PCRM doctors, nurses, and dieticians stated that “to describe cow’s milk as required or as the default option reflects racial bias that is presumably unintended but is nonetheless inappropriate and harmful to public health,”

The letter argues that dairy products are superfluous and warns of the detrimental effects they have on people of color’s health in particular. “Unhealthful foods contribute to a wide range of health problems, many of which take a particular toll in Black and Latinx communities… Federal nutrition policy, including the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, has played a role in exacerbating these disparities,” the letter states.


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