Tag Archives: healthcare

Making Health Insurance Reform Work

First Congress voted, and now the Supreme Court has spoken, so, as of this writing, a massive overhaul of the health system seems likely. The questions on many people’s minds at this point are: How are we going to pay for it all? and will there be enough medical staff and facilities to go around? The entire debate about health care is driven by the fact that Americans need so much care. Collectively we are sicker than we have ever been. When you think about it, what we really need the most to make things work is a healthier country. This is where helping the country to move towards a vegetarian diet can make a big difference, perhaps the crucial difference between success and failure.

The three leading causes of death in America are heart disease, cancer and stroke – mostly diet-related diseases which can be largely prevented, and often even reversed, by following a healthy vegetarian diet. Adding to the stress on the healthcare system are leading diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure – two of the most common diseases in America– and both of these can also be largely prevented and reversed through a healthy vegetarian diet. Diabetes and pre-diabetes are thought to affect as many as 80 million Americans, and high blood pressure another 75 million people.

As patients line up at pharmacy counters, doctors offices, and hospital registration desks, the cash registers ring up the costs of these diseases—well into the hundreds of billions every year. The money savings potential in moving the country towards a vegetarian diet is profound. For instance, a Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company showed that for every $1 spent in helping heart patients to switch over to a vegetarian diet, $5.55 was saved in treatment. One study found that over 90% of diabetics were able to discontinue or reduce their medication in only six months after adopting a healthy vegetarian diet.  Plant-food rich vegetarian diets have been shown to drastically reduce the incidence of diseases such as stroke and hypertension, and even several forms of cancer such as colon and prostate cancer.  But even less dramatic but still costly medical expenses would be saved. For instance, every year the meat-centered low-fiber standard diet, and the all-too-common constipation it causes, results in Americans to spend nearly 800 million dollars on laxatives every year. Yet the fiber-rich plant-powered diet would largely save us both the discomfort and the expense.

With all this in mind, you’d think that the government would do everything it could to financially support farmers who grow healthier food, but such is not the case. Sadly, every administration, both Democrat and Republican in recent decades, has been caught up in a system that not only tolerates ill health, but encourages it. For instance, only 3% of farm subsidies go towards healthy plant foods while the other 97% goes to animal products and highly refined and junk food. With this kind of policy, the government promotes an environment that encourages the very diseases for which it now needs to insure against. How much simpler it would be to promote a healthier diet, and save us all the money of so much “disease care,” and in so doing, provide the American people with what we really need, true health care.

While still controversial for some, most Americans feel we need some kind of insurance reform. But even more, we need better health. And that should be front and center in any emerging plan. While financial fixes have their place, and while new technologies can make a significant contribution, the country has largely blinded itself to the simple yet powerful potential of the vegetarian diet. Far from a bitter pill to swallow, a delicious vegetarian diet may just be the miracle drug of the 21st century.

Calling all Veg-Friendly Healthcare Providers

Here at Vegetarians of Washington, we are often asked for recommendations of vegetarian or veg-friendly healthcare providers.  If you are a healthcare provider of any kind, licensed in the state of Washington, and you are either vegetarian or vegan yourself, or you consider it to be a very healthy choice for your patients to make, we encourage you to contact us to let us know of your qualifications, your specialty, your practice location and contact information, and your experience with vegetarian and vegan diets.  We will compile this information into a helpful list which we can share as needed.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) publishes an excellent book – A Nutrition Guide for Clinicians, which is a comprehensive, portable medical reference manual.  It covers nearly 100 diseases and conditions, including risk factors, diagnoses, and typical treatments. Most importantly, it provides the latest evidence-based information on nutrition’s role in prevention and treatment, including an in-depth examination of general nutrition, macronutrients, micronutrients, and nutritional requirements for all stages of life.  In addition, it describes helpful ways to talk with patients about dietary changes.  If you’d like to have all the latest nutritional information at your fingertips, you may find this book very helpful.  It is written for clinicians, so it provides all the medical details you’ll need for almost every common situation.

The PCRM has also put together a website http://nutritioncme.org/ which offers free online Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits to healthcare providers who study the educational materials on their website.  It is well-designed with the latest nutrition information to help bring any healthcare provider up-to-date with the scientific evidence showing how our food can help heal many common diseases.

If you need a movie to recommend to patients who could benefit from a change in their diets, or a quick introduction yourself to some of the recent research which has uncovered the many health benefits of a vegetarian diet, the new movie Forks over Knives is now available for free instant download from Netflix, for downloadable rental ($3.99) or purchase ($9.99) or as a DVD ($14.99) from Amazon.com.  You can also recommend our books The Vegetarian Solution, by Stewart Rose, or Say No to Meat, by Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose, as good sources of valuable information about the health and other benefits of changing your diet. For patients who are new to healthy food, our latest book In Pursuit of Great Food: A Plant-Based Shopping Guide, could be very helpful for them.