Here’s a fact: According to a study in Journal of the American Medical Association, diet is the number one risk factor disease in the United States. Here’s another fact: A plant-based diet can effectively prevent and treat a number of common diseases, and even some not-so-common ones. What could be more important for doctors to learn about? Read more
Are plant foods the miracle drugs of the 21st century? It may seem surprising to think that a vegetarian diet could be used in just the same way doctors use drugs and surgery, but those who promote the medical benefits of a vegetarian diet have a powerful ally on their side: science! A healthy vegetarian diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts is powerful medicine. We call it Vegetarian Nutritional Medicine.
Vegetarians of Washington, and the many doctors who support them, say that the evidence demonstrates that when a patient changes their diet to a vegetarian diet, they can often lower their blood pressure, clean out their arteries, reduce their dependence on medications, and experience a dramatic reduction in the symptoms of disease. Even better, it can prevent disease from occurring in the first place.
We aim to help solve a problem. People complain that their doctors can’t help them when it comes to nutrition, and have little advice to offer, because they weren’t taught it in medical school. Patients often have no choice but to go it alone if they want to use nutritional medicine to get well. In a national study, over 90% of doctors felt their training in nutrition was inadequate. Patients deserve better than that, and the public deserves doctors who don’t turn a blind eye to life-saving treatments.
Here’s what we’re doing about it.
Since this problem starts in medical school, Vegetarians of Washington has launched the Prescribe Vegetarian campaign by asking that medical schools change their curriculum, to include teaching students how to prescribe healthy vegetarian food, along with all the other treatments at their disposal. To help things along we have already given presentations to med students at two northwest medical schools. But we won’t stop there.
We’re also going to give presentations to practicing doctors on how to effectively prescribe plant-based diets to their patients as well as the science behind it. We’re also posting the latest research in our blog, The Vegetarian Prescription, so that doctors will have the latest research at their disposal.
When turning corn into ethanol, not all the food value need be lost. As of this writing, the current law requires that nearly 10% of the nation’s gasoline supply come from corn-based ethanol. To make that ethanol, up to 40% of the country’s annual corn production may be required. With the drought causing a diminished corn harvest this year, and with rising food prices and the UN reporting that 870 million people around the world are malnourished, many have wondered if there wasn’t some way in which the nutrition contained in the corn could be salvaged.
Enter food scientist Padu Krishnan at South Dakota University, who thinks he has a solution to the problem, and a recipe to help Americans eat more healthfully. He has been cooking up treats using a special ingredient he says can make baked goods more filling and nutritious.
His super-food of the future is the stuff left over from turning corn into fuel ethanol. It’s known as “dried distillers’ grain” or DDG. Made from mashed up corn kernels, after ethanol production strips out the starch, DDG is very valuable for human diets because it is packed with 40 percent dietary fiber and 37 percent protein.
Mr. Krishnan says replacing a portion of traditional flour in a recipe with DDG can give foods a healthy boost. Mr. Krishnan has a special tandoor oven to use DDG in naan. He has put it into chapati, pizza dough, tortillas, and he plans to try it in noodles. Consumers tasting the recipes at the South Dakota state fair gave them a two thumbs up, and he’s now contemplating approaching a star chef to cook with the stuff.
While using corn for ethanol will probably remain controversial (to say the least), this sounds like a great plan to make use of the nutrition and be able to refuel our cars.
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.
The news is all abuzz lately about First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to the fast food joint Shake Shack on Monday, and the 1700 calorie, high fat and cholesterol, lunch she had there. Over the past couple of years we’ve admired the attention the First Lady has paid to nutritional issues, and have also listened as she has recounted her own struggles to eat more healthfully. We want to help! America’s First Lady deserves only best. So we have redesigned her lunch to include the same menu selections, made with plant-based products instead, and to make it fun we’ve used only products featured at Vegfest.
The Shake Shack lunch consisted of a double cheeseburger, fries, a chocolate shake and a Diet Coke. The nutritional breakdown is so scary we’re amazed the Secret Service let her take the risk! At 1720 calories, 91g fat (48g saturated), 430mg cholesterol, 12g fiber, 71g sugar, 2,410mg sodium, plus added artificial chemicals, the Shake Shack lunch sure is hard on both Michelle Obama’s health and her figure.
Now here’s a great tasting plant-based lunch she could have instead especially if she were at Vegfest. A double Boca Vegan Burger, with two slices of Galaxy dairy-free American “Cheese” on a Dave’s Killer Bread Bun, with a side order of Alexia Classic Oven Fries, an Odwalla Super Protein Chocolate drink, and a Zevia calorie free Cola (sweetened with natural herb stevia). A great lunch! Here’s the nutritional breakdown. 890 calories, 21g fat (1g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 17g fiber, 25g sugar, 1,820mg sodium, and no artificial chemicals. Compare this meal to the one the first Lady had. What difference!
Now many people falsely assume they have to run to a fast food place such as McDonalds for a quick fix of American-style fast food, and that poor nutrition and a detriment to their health is the inevitable price they’ll pay. While we might not recommend this plant-based fast food meal for lunch every day, we think it has a powerful health advantage over the Shake Shack lunch and other fast food lunches like it, by offering great taste and much better nutrition. Think of it as the vegetarian advantage for health.
There are other vegetarian advantages to be had as well. It turns out that raising meat is one of the biggest causes of global warming. It’s also a major cause of water pollution, the leading cause of soil erosion and the number one cause of ecological destruction on both land and sea. Raising meat is also a major driver of global hunger since a dozen people could be fed a vegetarian meal for every person eating a meat-based one. And last, but not least given harsh conditions prevailing on today’s factory farms, a vegetarian diet is a more humane diet, lifting our humanity as we show compassion to innocent farm animals. Given all these advantages we hope you and the first lady will see that a vegetarian lunch deserves unanimous bipartisan support.