Nelson Marlborough public health advocate Rob Beaglehole and Nelson Hospital cafe chef Lee Teece. Photo: Kate Russell.

No meat, no problem


If you visit the Nelson Hospital cafe on a Monday, don’t expect to see meat on the menu.

Pumpkin and spinach lasagne, vegan dhal, and sweetcorn and cheese pot pie have replaced their meatier counterparts, and processed meat – such as ham and bacon – have been banned altogether.

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board rolled out the initiative exactly one month ago following a trial last year and cafe manager Sharmaine Thomas says even the “total meat eaters” have loved it.

“It’s been quite surprising. They’ve all taken on board the veggie patties and the vegan sausage rolls.”

One happy customer has even taken the idea back to his family at home, according to Nelson Marlborough public health advocate Rob Beaglehole.

“From my perspective, it’s been a great success so far. People like the fact it’s good for their health, as well as the environment,” he says.

“We are the first DHB in the country to do it and others are very interested – ours is a bit like a pilot.”

He says the initiative supports the current public health recommendations to limit the intake of meat.

“Promoting healthier food options, and reducing the consumption of red and processed meat, will help drive better health outcomes for our community and, as a healthcare provider, reducing the risk to public health has got to be a priority.

“Just like nicotine and alcohol, processed meats are now classed as a carcinogen by the World Health Organisation. We are encouraging everyone to get behind the global movement towards a more plant-based diet and experience the health and environmental benefits of reduced meat consumption.”

Sharmaine says they want to get the word out to the public too, as the cafe isn’t just for hospital staff and visitors.

“That’s the biggest thing, we encourage the public to come and try it out, too.”