Doctors Rank Train Stations for Healthful, #TastyTrainFood; L.A. and D.C. Earn Highest Scores

All Onboard Menus Feature Healthful Options; New HHS Secretary Should Travel by Train, Group Advises

WASHINGTON--()--Holiday travelers who ride Amtrak will find numerous healthful meals in Amtrak stations and on board trains, according to a new survey by the nonprofit Physicians Committee—a national group of 12,000 doctors. Dietitians ranked nine of the largest train stations finding that Union Station in Los Angeles and Union Station in Washington earn the highest scores—100 percent and 89 percent respectively. Toronto gets 88 percent, Denver 86 percent, Boston 82 percent, Chicago 77 percent, and New York 73 percent. Philadelphia and Newark are tied for last place with 56 percent.

“Scientific studies show that a plant-based diet can help people prevent or reverse diabetes, high blood pressure, and holiday weight gain, among other conditions.”

Dietitians also surveyed major train line dining car and café car menus and found that all offer at least one cholesterol-free, plant-based option. The Silver Meteor Dining Car, for example, offers several healthful options including Vegetable Lasagna with Vegan Mozzarella. The Cardinal, the City of New Orleans, and the Silver Meteor dining cars offer Chinese Rice Noodles and Veggies with Cashew Sauce. The Northeast Regional, Acela, and Silver Star café cars offer a Layered Veggie and Quinoa Salad. The Southwest Chief dining car offers Vegetarian Pasta with vegan sausage. A new webpage www.TastyTrainFood.org lists recommended plant-based meals and links to Amtrak menus.

“Travelers headed home for the holidays, or to vacation destinations, can find tasty and healthful meals in stations and on board Amtrak trains,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “Scientific studies show that a plant-based diet can help people prevent or reverse diabetes, high blood pressure, and holiday weight gain, among other conditions.”

Two backlit platform ads in Chicago’s Union Station target southbound passengers with the message: “Headed to the Dining Car? Try the Black Bean & Corn Veggie Burger and Other Meatless Meals!” The ads are about 5 feet wide and 3 feet tall. Scheduled to go up Nov. 20, the ads encourage passengers to tweet or share on Facebook photos of healthful, #TastyTrainFood. South and eastbound trains, including the City of New Orleans, travel through states with high rates of diet-related diseases. Train travelers will also be targeted with Google ads.

Ms. Levin has written to Alex Azar, who has been nominated to be secretary of Health and Human Services, urging him to set a good example for health-conscious travelers by choosing Amtrak’s meatless meals. If Mr. Azar boards the Capitol Limited in D.C., for example, he can enjoy Chef Marion Gibson’s Vegetarian Asian Noodle Bowl. The former HHS secretary, Tom Price, resigned after Politico revealed that he took several trips on expensive chartered planes, including Washington to Philadelphia and back for $25,451, while the Amtrak fare is about $174.

To rank the major train stations, Physicians Committee nutritionists gave each restaurant in the station a point if its menu included at least one cholesterol-free plant-based option. The final percentage score was derived by dividing the station’s number of restaurants serving health-conscious fare by its total number of restaurants.

                                 
Rank       Train Station       Score      

Healthful

Restaurants

/ Total

Restaurants

      Sample Healthful Option
1       Los Angeles

Union Station

      100%       7/7       Sweet Potato Curry Quinoa Rice Pot at Pret a Manger
2       Washington

Union Station

      89%       24/27       Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai at Le Pain Quotidien
3       Toronto

Union Station

      88%       7/8       Lentils, Veggies & Brown Rice Protein Bowl at Starbucks
4       Denver

Union Station

      86%       6/7       Thai Butternut Squash Soup at Next Door American Eatery
5       Boston

Union Station

      82%       9/11       Spicy Black Bean & Mango Wrap at Pret a Manger
6       Chicago

Union Station

      77%       10/13       Vindaloo Curry and several other Vegan Delight options at Baba’s Village
7       New York

Penn Station

      73%       35/48       Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich and other vegan options at Cinnamon Snail
8       Philadelphia 30th Street Station       56%       9/16       Seitan-Zucchini Patties and other vegan options at Mi Lah
8       Newark, N.J.

Penn Station

      56%       5/9       Grilled Vegetable Sandwich at Caffe Side Dish
                       

For more information or an interview with Ms. Levin or another Physicians Committee expert, please contact Jeanne S. McVey at 202-527-7316 or jeannem@pcrm.org.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Contacts

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Jeanne S. McVey, 202-527-7316
jeannem@pcrm.org

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