Why Brigham and Women's quietly serves vegan meals

After complaints piled up about "Meatless Mondays" at Boston-based Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital, leaders pivoted to a new strategy: Removing the words "vegan" and "vegetarian" from the cafeteria's menu, NPR reported Aug. 11. 

The hospital is working to serve less meat to reduce its food-related greenhouse gas emissions — and it signed a pledge to trim those emissions 25 percent by 2030. To achieve buy-in from visitors and employees, Faulkner leaders rebranded the altered cafeteria menu to highlight what's in the food, not what isn't. 

The cafeteria doesn't advertise the terms "vegan" and "vegetarian" because "[we] celebrate what's in the dish as opposed to what's been taken out of it," Susan Langill, the hospital's director of food services, told NPR

"Lots of folks don't identify as vegan or vegetarian," Ms. Langill said. "So instead, we're marketing dishes based on the flavor or cultural benefits and celebrations of that food."

The hospital's next goal is including more meat-free and plant-based options for patient meals, which serves two purposes: improving a patient's health and reducing food-related greenhouse gas emissions. 

After signing the pledge, Faulkner has cut emissions per calorie by 2.2 percent, and the system has decreased emissions per calorie by 20 percent.

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