Bringing plant-based medicine into the mainstream
Last month in London, ProVeg UK hosted VegMed 2019, bringing insights from the world’s top plant-based healthcare professionals to more than 600 delegates. Keynote speakers included Dr Michael Greger, Dr Michael Klaper, Brenda Davis, Gemma Newman, and many more, all of whom spoke inspiringly about their research and experiences with plant-based interventions in their medical practices.
It is not widely known that most medical professionals only get a few hours of nutrition-focused training during their studies. This is rather surprising, given that it is widely accepted that some of our biggest killers can be prevented or managed with diet and lifestyle. It is for this reason that these kinds of conferences, where nutrition is put at the forefront of the debate, are crucial.
So what exactly is VegMed?
VegMed featured talks on a wide range of topics, including prevention of killer diseases such as diabetes, maintaining a happy and healthy gut, planning plant-based diets for children, and approaching cancer from a nutrition perspective.
Packed with informative content, the event encompassed two conferences, one for medical professionals and another for the general public. Both days were fully sold out and the atmosphere throughout was engrossing and exciting.
The annual medical conference consisted of UK-based and international doctors, medical students, nutritionists, naturopathy professionals, and many other fields. Nearly half the attendees were medical students, indicating a burgeoning interest in plant-based nutrition going forward, which is extremely exciting. The public day invited health enthusiasts to hear a simplified version of the content and provided the opportunity to engage with their favourite plant-based doctors.
Why is VegMed important?
Firstly, bringing this kind of information to the public is important, because it encourages people to be critical about the type of treatment they would like to pursue.
Secondly, it provides an accredited opportunity for medical professionals to hear case studies and evidence supporting a plant-based diet as both treatment and prevention. Ideally, this will encourage more professionals to begin integrating these methods into their own practices and provide opportunities to share their experiences in the future.
“The conference has given us the opportunity to share UK expertise alongside some of the international pioneers in the field of plant-based nutrition. I hope the conference will inspire a new generation of healthcare professionals to use plant-based nutrition for disease prevention and reversal in their own clinical practice.”
Phillip Mansbridge, ProVeg UK Director
The power of a plant-based diet
VegMed has shown that healthy nutrition is not only an effective method for preventing disease, but also a way of treating it, and a whole food plant-based diet is at the forefront of this approach.
Speakers presented studies on heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, all of which showed that a plant-based diet is the only diet proven to reverse symptoms. When integrated with a healthy lifestyle, results such as reduced medication intake are common, as are improved digestion, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, weight loss, and many other health benefits. Other, more holistic benefits, such as improved moods, reduction in fatigue, and improved wellbeing, are also common.
Speakers also provided case studies of individuals who turned their diseases around by implementing plant-based diets alongside standard medical treatment plans.
Nutrition in medical practice
It is commonly understood that nutrition is at the heart of a healthy lifestyle along with exercise and – of course – good medical care.
All the speakers at VegMed were able to share best practices and insights into nutritional interventions in medicine. It was also tremendously exciting to see how many medical professionals attended in order to learn more about this field. Michael Klaper spoke in depth about the integration of plant-based nutrition into medical practice, and Gemma Newman offered us fascinating insights into fitting personal and influential interventions into a short doctor’s appointment.
Perhaps most exciting were the conversations we had with doctors who did not currently utilise nutrition as a treatment method. We spoke to young GPs who viewed their VegMed experience as a platform for kickstarting their journey toward implementing plant-based diets. This kind of wider impact is exactly what VegMed is all about.
The future of plant-based diets in medicine
As an increasing number of medical professionals realise the potential of plant-based diets in treatment, the practice is becoming more widespread. Events like VegMed capture the astounding growth and mainstreaming of plant-based diets in recent years. The event has also shown to the wider medical community the inspiring results that plant-based interventions are having for patients worldwide.
After hearing the evidence, medical professionals will hopefully begin to implement these practices in their own work and supplement the growing community of patients and doctors benefitting from plant-based nutrition.
Numerous people have benefited from switching to a plant-based diet, and many of these people have had their experiences documented in various case studies. Shireen Kassam, the founder of Plant-based Health Professionals UK, highlights the story of Jackie, who overcame inflammatory arthritis through plant-based interventions. Jackie notes that although the initial steroid-based treatment she received helped with pain relief and did reduce her inflammation, she was experienced unpleasant side effects such as nausea and emotional instability. These side effects led her to consider an alternative approach – she went on to achieve spectacular results through a plant-based diet.
After just eight weeks, her blood work indicated that she was heading for remission and she completed a 700-metre sea swim she had been forced to miss the previous year. She has now reduced her medication intake to the absolute minimum and her outlook is positive.
Jackie’s story shows how integrating a plant-based wholefood diet into her treatment enabled her to recover far more quickly than she may have done without one.
For more details on Jackie’s story can be found here, along with other patient stories.
Learn more about VegMed 2020.