A Plant-Based Diet for the Big Apple? That’s the Plan

Susan S. Johnson

Sept. 24, 2021 — In 2016, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams fought his type 2 diabetes diagnosis by adopting a plant-based diet. Now, as the presumptive next mayor of New York City, he plans to bring his constituents along on his “healthy at last” journey.

“It’s important to change our health care system from being sick care to health care, and there’s no greater impact in doing that than to look at how we are feeding the crisis on a governmental level,” Adams said in an interview. “Built into my response is to introduce a whole-food plant-based diet to everyday New Yorkers…we’re going to start transitioning to a healthier lifestyle..

Adams, who was a police captain and then a state senator prior to becoming Brooklyn Borough president in 2013, won the NYC mayoral Democratic primary in June 2021 and is widely expected to win the general election on Nov. 2.

In October 2020, he published a book, Healthy at Last, that chronicles his journey from unhealthful eating habits when he was a cop, habits that followed him into elected office, to his life-changing decision to adopt a completely plant-based diet after receiving a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in March 2016, at the age of 56.

He also explains the many drawbacks of the typical Western diet and the cultural African-American “soul food,” reviews some of the science supporting plant-based diets in preventing and mitigating chronic health conditions, and offers tips for making the switch. In the last chapter, he provides 51 plant-based recipes. To read more about Adams’ journey with diabetes, go here.

Adams cut all animal products from his diet – including meat, poultry, dairy, and fish – and advocates doing so in his book.

But he doesn’t expect all New Yorkers to do the same (at least not yet) and his messaging won’t use the word “vegan.” Rather, the plan involves making plant-based diets the top menu option in places where the city government feeds people, starting with hospitals and perhaps later expanding to prisons and city office buildings. (School meals are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.)

“We’re going to be extremely creative…So instead of automatically giving people bad food, highly processed food, we’re going to make plant-based as the default. If someone wants something other than plant-based, they can reach out and we’ll make that available but we’re going to start with having people default to plant-based,” he said.

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