A love for animals isn’t the only reason to adopt a plant-based diet; the health benefits are phenomenal, too! But despite this, it isn’t easy to find a vegan doctor. Roughly 80% of healthcare dollars are spent on preventable conditions, most of which can be greatly reduced or even avoided by changing one’s dietary habits. Heart disease, America’s number one killer, is one of them, as is obesity, another growing threat that is plaguing more and more children.
Where Are Those Vegan Doctors?
Fortunately, for those of us eager to accept a nutritional prescription before accepting a pharmaceutical one, things just got easier. Plantrician Project recently launched their website known as Plant-Based Docs, a “searchable, global directory of physicians, clinicians and allied health professionals who understand that a pill for every ill is not the answer.” That’s right, a database to help you find a vegan doctor, or at least one that understands the power the whole-foods, rainbow-colored, plant-based diet that we embrace.
Documentaries ≠ Doctors
Educational documentaries like Forks Over Knives and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead have become available to mainstream audiences via Netflix, and the word is spreading fast. And yet, finding a doctor that encourages natural, dietary alternatives to pharmaceuticals is difficult. Why is it that so many doctors are so eager to perform extreme surgeries and write scripts after scripts instead of promoting a whole-foods plant-based diet and bypassing the drugs altogether? Well, one thing we know is that the pharmaceutical industry is incredible powerful and influential.
Who Studies Nutrition Anymore?
Another important factor is that medical schools devote a minuscule number of hours to nutritional education. Over the past three decades, many professionals and scientific studies have criticized this educational gap, calling for more hours of nutritional study for medical practitioners. Unfortunately, the number of hours dedicated to nutrition may actually be decreasing. In one study, only one-quarter of medical schools taught the recommended number of hours of nutritional education. The vast majority are lacking.
The disconnect between nutritional education and practicing medicine is acknowledged even by doctors themselves. “There’s tremendous ignorance about nutrition among physicians,” said Dr. William Davis, a preventive cardiologist in Milwaukee in an 2013 Chicago Tribute article. “It has never been part of the culture,” Davis added. In a 2010 New York Times article, Pauline W. Chen, M.D., admitted, “I wasn’t sure I knew that much more after medical school than I did before.”
A Transformative Approach to Medicine
“The number one cause of virtually all of our chronic disease, and the number one cause of so many of our most pressing global sustainability issues is one and the same: our industrialized Western diet. The foods we should be eating to protect our health and prevent disease are the exact same choices we need to make in relation to the big picture of preserving our natural resources and feeding what soon will be nine billion people on the face of the earth.”
So go ahead, check out Plant-Based Docs to find a vegan doctor near you (or a vegan-friendly one, at least). If none are listed yet, use the resources provided by Plantrician Project to talk with your current physician and encourage him or her to participate in continuing education provided by Plantrician Project. You will not only be helping animals and your doctor, but also many generations of patients to come.
Disclaimer: Plant-Based Docs allows physicians to self-register on the site, therefore Plantrician Project does not vet the individual practitioners. Rather, physicians have “self-declared as medical or wellness professionals, pledging, through their registration for this site, that they have expertise in using whole food, plant-based nutrition as a therapeutic intervention for the prevention, treatment and, when appropriate, even reversal of disease.”