Doctor’s tip: Word getting out about plant-based diets
January 6, 2016
More and more evidence shows that plant-based nutrition can prevent and treat most chronic diseases in this country (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, several types of cancer); prevent disability (e.g. strokes, complications of diabetes); and drastically reduce medical costs.
In large part due to lobbying, misleading advertising and misinformation from the food industry, this message is not getting to the public as quickly as it should. By way of disclosure, my only agenda is to make people aware of the many ways lifestyle modification can improve their current and future health. I have no financial interest in the plant-based meals program that I help by participating in support-group meetings, nor do I own a kale farm.
Here is some good news: In a blog last week, Neal Barnard, M.D., the founding president of the Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine, noted 15 instances in 2015 where plant-based diets stole the media spotlight, and I will summarize what he said:
• The World Health Organization declared that red and processed meats are carcinogens, based on a large-scale international review in October in the journal Lancet Oncology.
• GQ Magazine named New York City's vegan Superiority Burger as the as the top burger in the U.S. Along the same line, McDonald's closed more than 700 stores in 2015 and plant-based fast-food and fast-casual restaurants are sprouting up (pun intended) to meet the new demand.
• Scott Jurek, the famous ultramarathoner who has been plant-based since his teens (because veggies, fruits and whole grains have the most nutrients per calorie) completed the 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail in world record time, running an average of 50 miles a day for 46 straight days. (Read his book, "Eat and Run.")
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• The president of the American College of Cardiology, Kim Williams, M.D., spoke at the International Conference on Nutrition In Medicine: Heart Disease, and explained why he adopted a plant-based diet and why he recommends it for his patients.
• Beyonce, inspired by how great she felt after completing a 22-day vegan challenge, teamed up with others to launch a vegan meal delivery service.
• Vegan mayo went mainstream in July when 7-Eleven made the switch for all prepared meals. Also, Ikea started offering veggie sliders and Ben and Jerry's announced that they will introduce vegan ice cream in 2016.
• In February, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released a scientific report acknowledging the power of plant-based diets in fighting obesity and in reducing the risk of heart disease, hypertension and other common health problems.
• More schools have their own gardens (including Carbondale High School), nutrition education, meatless Mondays and healthier school lunches. MUSE School in California became the first K-12 school to offer only vegan options.
• Bobby Andersen, a Mississippi truck driver, made the news after adopting a vegan diet and losing 65 pounds, enabling him to get off his several medications.
• The American Institute for Cancer Research stated that lifestyle modification can prevent an estimated 340,000 cancer cases per year.
• In several studies, vegetarian and vegan diets proved to be the most effective for weight loss.
• Arnold Schwarzenegger explained that vegetarian diets contain all the protein that body builders and other athletes need. NFL player David Carter, tennis player Serena Williams, NBA star Ben Gordon, among other professional athletes, touted their plant-based diets.
• At least four large hospitals, including the Cleveland Clinic, terminated their relationship with McDonald's.
• Seventy-one percent of restaurants at the busiest U.S. airports now offer at least one healthful, plant-based option.
• Former food journalist for the New York Times Mark Bittman wrote in his last regular column in September that he would be joining a vegan meal-kit delivery startup. He said he made the move because he wanted to help save lives, noting that "helping people eat less junk and processed food and fewer animal products will improve their health."
Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, now has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and any other medical concerns. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.