This is John from Vegan Street and this issue is very personal for me. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with leukemia which led me on a long journey that involved a dozen different hospital stays, most of which were at one of Chicago's leading cancer hospitals. The brilliance, dedication, compassion and professionalism of the doctors, nurses and staff are the reason I'm alive, healthy and able to write this. I am thoroughly happy with every aspect of my care.
Plant-based food was virtually nonexistent. There were no vegan or veganizable entrees, and I had to cobble together meals from side salads, breakfast cereal, fruit cups, and junk food-y things like french fries and potato chips. Following my bone marrow transplant, I was put on a low-bacteria diet that forbade the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, so it would have been impossible to meet my caloric needs had it not been for my already over-stressed wife preparing food for me.
I had several long meetings with staff dietitians (one of whom was vegan herself!) who acknowledged that there needed to be more plant-based options, particularly because many patients' meaty diets are what brought them to the hospital in the first place. But they all talked vaguely about bureaucratic and budgetary barriers to making the changes.
If you are unlucky enough to face a hospital stay yourself or for a loved one and you find yourself facing limited food options, speak up. There needs to be a lot of pressure put on hospitals to promote the most healing diet on the planet.
One group that is working hard to encourage hospitals to adopt more plant-based foods is Beyond Investing. They are currently distributing a very informative and persuasive press release. Read it here.