When It Comes To Veganism…Who Do You Believe?

Image 6-25-14 at 2.32 PM

“My vegetarian daughter just came home from college and I took her for a check-up because she was feeling tired. Her doctor told her that she needed to start eating meat again because her blood tests showed that she was low in iron.”

“I haven’t been eating meat lately and I’ve been feeling weak. My doctor told me to eat more meat; so last night I ate a steak, and I instantly felt much better.”

“While my daughter-in-law was pregnant, her ob/gyn told her that she needed to eat meat for the health of the baby.”

These are just samplings of the many unsolicited comments I hear from people wherever I go (the key word being “unsolicited”). I believe that, with such comments, people are trying to tell me that my “healthy” vegan diet is bulls**t because their doctors surely know more than I do!

Having given such comments much thought, and having researched the amount of hours that doctors actually spend learning about nutrition in medical school, I have come to the conclusion that, when it comes to your diet, you must decide which doctors, researchers and other health professionals you believe. I know who I believe, what about you?

Let’s take a look at the facts…

If you’ve read my post entitled Let Food Be Thy Medicine…, you already know that a 2006 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that medical students receive an average of 23.9 hours of nutrition instruction during medical school. This is less than one full day! Furthermore, only 38% of the medical schools surveyed made it mandatory to take the minimum 25 hours of nutrition education recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, and only 32% of the medical schools surveyed required a separate course in nutrition.

Considering this evidence, it is very likely that the ob/gyn who told his pregnant patient that she needed to eat meat for the health of her baby, that the doctor who told the college student that she needed to eat meat to correct her iron deficiency, and that the doctor who told his patient to eat meat for strength, may not be as educated in the field of nutrition as some other doctors, scholars and professionals who have made it their life’s work to study nutritional science and its relationship to the field of medicine. In addition to scholarly researchers, I am talking about a group of physicians who, I believe, took their Hippocratic Oath a tad more seriously than some other physicians. After all, wasn’t it Hippocrates, The Father of Western Medicine, who said that food should be our medicine and that medicine should be our food?

Thank goodness for the wonderful group of doctors who have committed themselves to studying and promoting the strong connection between the foods we eat and our health. At the forefront of this community of doctors who have made it their life’s work to study nutritional science and its relationship to medicine is Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). PCRM is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., which promotes a vegan diet, preventive medicine, alternatives to animal research, and encourages “higher standards of ethics and effectiveness in research.”

In addition to Dr. Barnard, some of the other prominent doctors who are members of the PCRM include Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. T. Colin Campbell (one of the directors of The China Study). These doctors are leaders in the field of nutrition and have studied, written about, advocated for and treated patients with plant-based nutrition over the course of many, many, many years. I would guess that they probably know a bit more about what constitutes a healthy diet than the average doctor who “may have” studied nutrition in medical school for about 23.9 hours. I will not get into the credentials of each of PCRM’s doctors now, but I do suggest that you Google them to find out about their amazing contributions to the field of nutritional science and medicine.

I have to acknowledge that there is so much confusion and conflicting information out there concerning what foods we should be eating to stay healthy. Clearly, it can be overwhelming and you may feel somewhat frightened when your doctor tells you that you or your child must eat meat in order to stay healthy. I absolutely don’t blame you if this is the case; however, it can only be a good thing to become as educated as you possibly can concerning the latest scientific evidence about nutrition by reading highly regarded books such as The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell or Prevent And Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.

In addition to educating yourself about the latest nutritional science, I ask you to draw upon your instincts, sense of logic and common sense when considering which nutritional “experts” you choose to believe. For as long as I can remember, I have been told by everyone I have ever respected to “eat more fruits and vegetables” for my health. I don’t ever recall my mother, grandmother, aunts, doctors, school teachers, nutritionists, Dr. Oz, Oprah or anyone else urging me to “eat more cows, chickens and pigs.”

Perhaps the ob/gyn mentioned above could have told his pregnant patient to eat more protein such as tofu, tempeh and quinoa for the baby’s health; the doctor of the college student may have suggested increasing her beans, greens and dried fruits for extra iron; or the doctor treating his patient for complaints of “weakness” may have suggested that she tweak her diet with grains, greens, beans, seeds, juices, nuts or other types of plant foods.

This leads me back to my original question. When it comes to choosing your diet, who do you believe? For me, the answer is easy. I choose to believe those doctors, researchers and scientists who have made it their life’s work to study nutrition and the connection of nutrition to the field of medicine. I believe in science and the overwhelming scientific evidence is in…eat plants, not animals!

Thank you to Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard and to all the physicians who have followed the lead of Hippocrates, The Father of Western Medicine, by “letting food be thy medicine…”

I believe you, Dr. Barnard…

And you, Dr. Esselstyn…

And you, Dr. McDougall…

And you, Dr. Campbell…

And all the other physicians, researchers and scientists who have made the study of nutritional medicine their life’s work!


  1. Great article Deb

  2. dawnallison says:

    WOW! on the Lasagna recipe — looks and sounds AMAZING! Also appreciate reading the article on who to believe when it comes to the world of medical advice from DOCTORS. Nutritional Science is a perfect example of how doctors specializing in one discipline often lack proper & complete knowledge in another.


  1. […] The goal of Vegan American Princess is to be a fun resource for all things vegan, because Ellen and I believe that veganism is intertwined with every major world issue. These issues include (but certainly are not limited to) animal cruelty, the environment, world hunger, world peace, and health. Actually, the list can go on and on and on. However, if your main concern is to be the healthiest vegan possible, we suggest following a “no-oil” whole foods vegan diet based upon the extensive research done by the Forks Over Knives team of physicians (including Drs. Campbell, McDougall, and Esselstyn). […]

Articles Archive