Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vegetarian Doctors

Vegetarian Doctors & Vegetarian-Friendly Doctors

More and more doctors are becoming vegetarian as the medical evidence in favor of it becomes overwhelming, and as they have success in treating their patients with vegetarian diets.

Though in one sense, it's surprising that there are any vegetarian doctors at all: Medical schools certainly don't endorse meat-free diets, and Western medicine says that proper treatment is drugs or surgery, not food. It's not much better in the food-based disciplines. When I studied nutrition at the University of Texas, veganism and vegetarianism were depicted as dangerous choices popular among only the trendy or naïve.

Here's a good article explaining why doctors are generally uninformed about nutrition.

Of course, when wondering why more doctors don't promote vegetarianism today, it's helpful to remember that doctors used to endorse cigarettes! Change is slow.

So I decided to start compiling a list of vegetarian physicians, or at least those who advocate vegetarian diets, to demonstrate that there are professionals in the medical community who recognize the health advantages of vegetarian diets.

I welcome submissions to this page. Candidates should be credentialed physicians in any country, and their credentials and support of vegetarianism should be listed on a credible website. I won't list a doctor in this section based on hearsay.

Charles Attwood, M.D. , 1932-98. Vegan, length of time unknown
World-famous pediatric physician and activist. As a result of his work the 1996 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans admitted for the first time that a vegetarian diet could be healthy. Dietary advice, Bio #1, Bio #2 June 2003

Neal Barnard, M.D. Vegan since the 80's

Founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in 1985, which promotes vegan diets and has about 5000 doctors as members. Salon bio/interview June 2003

Dumrong Chiewsilp, M.D.

Based on a study, recommends that AIDS patients can live longer, healthier lives on a vegetarian diet. source June 2003

Hans Diel, Dr. Hsc.

Since the late 80's has promoted vegetarian/vegan diets in large community medicine projects where 500 to 3000 people enroll in a 40-hour educational program designed to facilitate the evolution of a healthier culture within the culture-at-large. source June 2003

Joel Furhman, M.D.

On the board of directors of the National Health Association, which promotes the benefits of plant-based diets. Author of Eat to Live. website June 2003

Michael Greger, M.D.

Debated the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Director before the FDA and was invited as an expert witness to defend Oprah Winfrey in the infamous "meat defamation trial." Taught part of Dr. T. Colin Campbell's famous nutrition course at Cornell University. Created to debunk the Atkins diet. Coordinates the mad cow disease website for the Organic Consumers Association. May 2005

Henry Heimlich, M.D.

Creator of the well-known Heimlich Maneuver for saving choking victims. Advisory board member of PCRM which promotes vegan diets. Bio June 2003

Michael Janson, M.D. Mostly vegetarian since 1975

Past president of the American College for Advancement in Medicine and the American Preventive Medical Association. source June 2003

Anna Kingsford, M.D. , 1846-1888. Vegetarian

Pioneer as one of the first women physicians in the U.S.. Bio June 2003

Michael Klaper, M.D. Vegan. Bio does not give start date, but given his publications looks to be since late 70's.

Director of the Institute of Nutritional Education and Research. Author of Vegan Nutrition: Pure and Simple. source June 2003

John A. McDougall, M.D. Mostly vegan since about 1983.

Author of several exhaustively-researched books about the health advantages of vegan diets, and the first credentialed physician to endorse vegan diets, way back in 1983. source June 2003

Irena Medkova, M.D. Vegetarian

Russian physician and author. Article June 2003

Dean Ornish, M.D. Assumed to be mostly vegan since the mid-80's.

Ornish was the first researcher to successfully reverse heart disease in a study. The primary component of his treatment was a low-fat vegetarian diet. source June 2003

(Dr. Albert Schweitzer) Probably not vegetarian.

Though Schweitzer is the source of many pro-animal quotes that adorn vegetarian websites, we've seen no reliable source that claims he was actually a vegetarian, and a couple which insist that he wasn't. For now we'll consider this similar to the myth that Hitler was a vegetarian. Bio, article June 2003

Benjamin Spock, M.D. Vegetarian until age 12 and from age 88 to 94

The most well-known pediatrician of all time.. Bio June 2003

Other Resources

The Vegetarian Network of Victoria, Australia publishes a list of vegetarian-friendly doctors, who are not necessarily vegetarian themselves.

The International Vegetarian Union maintains a list of famous vegetarians.

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