“I want to convey to my fellow physicians that food truly is medicine and that a great body of evidence supports using a whole-food plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of our leading chronic diseases. I also hope to dispel common nutrition myths and teach basic, practical nutrition counseling skills for use in the primary care setting. It’s important to acknowledge that many physicians themselves do not practice healthy lifestyle habits, from diet to exercise to stress reduction. It would serve our patients well for more of us to become role models of health, but even if we cannot, we still have a responsibility to counsel our patients on the lifesaving tools of nutrition and lifestyle change. Most of our patients trust our advice.” (source)
Michelle McMacken is an internal medicine physician, Assistant Professor of Medicine, NYU School of Medicine Director, Bellevue Hospital Weight Management Clinic. It’s one of the largest safety-net hospitals in New York City. It’s not just a teaching hospital for the NYU School of Medicine but also a major referral center for medically complex patients.
In her bio, she explains that, for the first few years of her primary care internal medicine practice, she “managed chronic disease with the strategies” she had been taught: “a little bit of lifestyle advice, and a whole lot of medications, procedures, and surgeries. She explains, “day in and day out, I treated symptoms and blood test results related to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver, osteoarthritis, and peripheral vascular disease – but I rarely got to the common root of these conditions. My approach was usually reactive rather than proactive. My patients didn’t get much better – the best I felt I could hope for was that their disease state was ‘managed’ and didn’t get worse.”
It’s great that she also points out that “like most physicians” she “had little to no nutrition instruction during [her] training, and [she] felt ill-equipped to counsel” her patients with regard to their food.
After sharing this, she states that she became more aware “of the devastating impact of dairy and eggs on farm animals and the planet,” which led to her own personal transformation with regard to food. She was a vegetarian for 24 years before she became vegan, and began to to seek out information about nutrition, and “fill in the large gaps left by my medical training.”
She referenced The China Study and Dr. Esselstyn’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and points out how it was a big wake up call to the fact that many of the ‘chronic’ diseases that she, and any other doctors treat every day, were not inevitable and incurable. After this, she attended the annual meeting of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine in 2013, as well as the International Plant-Based Nutrition in Health Care conference in 2014. Here, she met like-minded practitioners and leaders who gave her the confidence to incorporate these changes in to her own lifestyle, “especially a whole-food, plant-based diet – the centerpiece” of her practice.
“The results have been nothing short of tremendous, both for my patients and for me personally. No longer do I automatically reach for the prescription pad when I see a patient with diabetes and high cholesterol….In just a short time, I’ve seen many patients avoid or decrease medications, prevent diabetes, lose weight, and reduce their cardiovascular risk by moving towards or fully adopting a plant-based diet.”
She is now committed to spreading the message of plant-based nutrition in any way she can. She is also in the process of developing an evidence-based nutrition curriculum for her faculty and resident physician colleagues.
“With fewer than one third of U.S. medical schools meeting the minimum standards of nutrition education recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, we have a lot of catching up to do!”
According to Harvard Medical School, “studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses.”
The science is the reason why so many physicians like Michelle are making these transitions, and it’s wonderful to see. For years, I believe that physicians, in some cases, cause much more harm than good at no fault of their own. The medical industry is now plagued with false literature and corporate influence, so much so that the current editor in chief of the Lancet, one of the world’s most well respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the world, said that “almost half” of the literature is false. He’s not the only one who’s expressed these concerns, you can read more about that here:
When it comes to food and nutrition, all of the science used to justify how we teach it comes from Big Food corporations, and the indoctrination begins in kindergarten. Our “check-lists” for nutrition come straight from the government, and straight from organizations who receive big money from big food corporations, especially the diary and meat industry. So, when we see these recommended guidelines, they are coming from the corporations that work with government agencies, who sell this product en masse to consumers.
A recent documentary came out, titled What The Health, which covers these facts quite well. It’s a follow-up film from the creators of the award-winning documentary Cowspiracy, which documented the eye-opening effects of animal agriculture and revealed that it’s the biggest contributor to deforestation, water usage, and pollution. It completely destroys our environment, while at the same time creating horrible conditions for the billions of animals who are raised for slaughter every single year.
Never has our planet seen the birth of so many “activist” type outlets. And that’s because there is a massive shift in consciousness happening. More and more people are starting to wake up and see through the many problems that plague our planet. Whether it be our financial institutions, medical industry, food industry, the process of education or the world of secrecy, the sentiment of the collective seems to be one that, every single year, continues to be changed. It’s time to change the world, and the more we speak up and become aware, our collective perspective continues to change and that alone sparks action, that alone can create and manifest a new reality. There is no doubt we are currently on that path, and one out of several examples is the fact that the desire for a more compassionate diet is on the rise. The need for a more holistic approach to medicine is also on the rise. The mainstream labels it as “complimentary and alternative medicine.”
The idea that eating animals destroys our environment, and subjects these people, yes animals are persons, to horrible torture and heartache at a constant rate is something more and more people are not accepting anymore. Vote with your dollar!
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