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‘Eat Plants!’: NYC Launches Campaign Aimed at Putting More Produce on New Yorker’s Plates

Published: May 17, 2023
Vegetables are sold at a supermarket on July 13, 2022, in New York City. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched the “Eat a Whole Lot More Plants” campaign aimed at promoting a healthy diet for New Yorker’s on May 16, 2023. (Image: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

On May 16, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched the “Eat a Whole Lot More Plants” campaign that aims to put more “scrumptious sprouts and piquant produce on New Yorker’s menus.”

The campaign urges New Yorkers to put plants on their plates and to adopt a healthy, balanced diet full of whole foods.

“Whole and minimally processed plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts are good for health as they are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and don’t come packaged with high amounts of sodium, added sugar, or unhealthy fats,” reads a press release on the matter.  

The campaign is intended to demonstrate how adopting a diet with lots of plants is one way New Yorkers can improve their health and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

“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,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “A plant-based lifestyle transformed my life, and helped put my type 2 diabetes into remission. 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.”

According to the Mayo Clinic a plant based diet, or consuming more vegetables, can promote a healthy weight, improve blood sugar control and insulin response and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

In 2020 approximately 697,000 Americans lost their lives to heart disease, and upwards of 37.3 million Americans have diabetes, or 11.3 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health and the Environment the primary focus

“Food is so important to our physical and mental health,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Putting more plants into the mix can help both your health and help us meet our environmental goals. Thank you to the Health Department for putting together this thoughtful campaign to help show New Yorkers that every little bit counts when it comes to eating healthier.” 

“Plants and plant-forward diets are key to our future, as a city, as a nation, and as a planet,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Healthy diets, full of fresh, whole foods are key to healthier, longer lives, and to preventing a range of chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. The city embraces its role in educating and promoting healthy diets and ensuring whole foods are accessible and available. This campaign joins a list of exciting, delightful and delicious efforts that Mayor Adams has prioritized to put plants on our plates and a healthier food in our bodies.” 

The educational campaign builds on the Mayor’s commitment to improve the food environment in the city and combat climate change. It will include “Plant-powered Fridays” in public schools and updated NYC Food Standards. It will also impact what types of food are available in vending machines on City property.

The City’s goal is to reduce the absolute carbon emissions from food purchases across city agencies by 33 percent by 2030.  

In addition, the City has entered into a new partnership with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) to provide “free introductory training in lifestyle medicine with a special focus on plant-based nutrition,” to every health care practitioner in the city.

Ads, promoting the campaign, will start to pop up on television, radio, subways, NYCLink, digital channels and outdoor media in neighborhoods identified as having socioeconomic inequities. 


Expanded medical services

NYC Health + Hospitals will be expanding its lifestyle medicine services to six new sites across New York’s five boroughs that will “provide patients living with chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure the tools, support, and guidance to treat and prevent common conditions using lifestyle interventions including a plant-predominant eating pattern.”

The campaign intends to address “structural inequities” and create opportunities for healthy eating while expanding access to healthy foods.

“The ‘Eat A Whole Lot More Plants’ campaign provides New Yorkers with ways to learn more about food assistance, supporting New Yorkers in their efforts to achieve nutrition security in the face of high food costs,” the press release reads.

“A plant-based diet can do wonders for patients living with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Not only can plants treat these conditions, but in some cases they can actually reverse them,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “Plant-based meals are the primary choice for inpatients at our 11 public hospitals and that is because a diet rich in plants helps them heal faster and puts them on the right track to a healthy lifestyle once they are discharged. We are grateful to Mayor Adams for spearheading this effort.”

“Eating more plants is something we can all agree on,” said Kate MacKenzie, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy. “Whether it can help stop the spread of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers or help us achieve our climate goals, this Administration’s commitment to plant-powered eating advances this global conversation. ‘Eats a Whole Lot More Plants’ will provide New Yorkers with helpful resources to start, maintain and sustain healthy diets.”