This morning I was flipping through the latest issue of VegNews magazine, and came to a segment in the Q&A section, Ask Laura, that resonated with me:
Dear Laura, My doctor is concerned that since I’ve given up meat, I might not get all the vitamins I need. What should I tell him?
First, I question a doctor who thinks meat is chock-full of vitamins. Have you checked this person’s diploma? You might want to make sure it’s not written in crayon on the back of a Chuck E. Cheese menu. That said, most doctors know as much about nutrition as Octomom knows about birth control. They understand the theory but not the application. My last doctor thought the reason I had a cold was because I wasn’t eating enough chicken wings. True story. Most doctors receive very little education about diet in general and know next to nothing about veganism. For advice that doesn’t involve a prescription for prime rib, seek out a trained professional, like a vegan-friendly registered dietician or nutritionist.
Why I mention this…
In this previous post, I talked about gaining a lot of weight in college due to following a vegan diet that lacked in actual nutrition because I had no money for groceries and a mediocre meal plan.
I went home one weekend to visit my family doctor to help understand why I was so unhealthy since “I don’t go to McDonalds all the time or anything!” I was naive enough to believe that eating a diet that contained no animal products automatically made it healthy.
I met with the doctor and explained to him that I don’t go out eating cheeseburgers and fried chicken all the time, and then said “I’m vegan*, so I feel like I eat better than most people.” To which my doctor replied, “What’s vegan?”
This was a man in his late 40’s or early 50’s, who had gone to med school and been a practicing family doctor for the past several decades. And I – 20 year old college junior – had been the first person in all of that time to spring the word VEGAN on him?!? WHAT!?
(*Before everyone gets all huffy and puffy, I was a strict vegan at this time, so I’M GOING TO USE THAT WORD, okie dokie? Please write if you need to check my references and credentials of my life between the years 2000-2005.)
I could not – and to this day, still can’t understand how someone in the medical profession didn’t know what “vegan” meant, or had never even heard the term. And, what do you think he told me when I said I didn’t eat animal products or byproducts? “Well, maybe you need to get more protein and dairy.”
Say it with me now: AHHHHHHHHFBHBGHDBHBDH!!!!!!!!
My point is this: Doctors do wonderful things and help many people. But they are NOT nutritionists. And unfortunately, many (not all, but many) simply don’t know enough/anything about plant-based diets. Many doctors and nurses only spend THREE CREDIT HOURS on nutrition while in school. THAT’S IT. Some institutions spend even less time on the subject.
For those of you considering a transition to a veg-diet, or even if you are looking to take better control of you health and you’d like to know more about eating larger amounts of whole, plant foods, I encourage you to talk to someone directly in the field of nutrition. There is a LOT to be said about vitamins, omega 3’s, toxic colons, dioxins and antioxidants, etc etc… and you’d do best to spend your time and money with someone that specializes in knowing all about these things.
That said, I am starting to acquire folks interested in being Case Studies for my nutrition program, so if any of you are interested in working with me, it’s a win-win for the both of us. Please contact me!