Why you need a vegan doctor!

Do you find yourself in the following situations that having a vegan doctor could solve?

  1. Are you vegan or plant-based but your doctor eats and recommends a standard American diet? 
  2. Does your doctor tell you to eat more animal protein?
  3. Does your doctor recommend meat for protein, milk for  calcium, and say eggs are the perfect food?
  4. Does your doctor tell you how diet can lower your risk for cancer, high blood pressure and heart attacks?
  5. Does your doctor make you feel bad for eating a vegan diet? 
  6. Is your doctor condescending? 
  7. Is your doctor unhealthy and overweight? 
  8. Do your friends and family worry about your vegan or plant-based diet? 
  9. Do you have a child who wants to start eating a vegan diet but you are not sure if it is healthy? 

If any of these questions sound familiar, then you need a vegan doctor.

What is a vegan doctor?

A vegan doctor treats disease with diet, exercise, and improved sleep. 

Eating a vegan diet means eating only plant foods. Some examples include fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans. It also means avoiding animal products, such as eggs, cheese, cow’s milk, beef, chicken and fish.

What's the difference between a vegan doctor and a plant-based doctor?

There is no major difference. Being vegan or plant-based means that you only eat plant-foods.

A plant-based doctor is mainly concerned about health. 

But a vegan doctor also worries about animal welfare, the environment.

A chart labeled vegan vs plant based describing differences between the two terms, the veganprimarycare.com logo is at the bottom right
A sign with the question are meat eaters malnourished, showing a fork with kale and a green background, the veganprimarycare logo is at the bottom right

Are vegans malnourished? What about vitamin B12?

The real question should be are meat eaters malnourished! Plant based eaters get MUCH more vitamins and minerals than people on a standard diet. Fruit, vegetables, grains and nuts contain the most vitamins and minerals. 

The one only nutrient to add to a vegan diet is vitamin B12. This  vitamin comes from bacteria. Animal products and fortified cereals contain B12. Before sanitation, humans got this vitamin B12 from the bacteria on their food. Both meat eaters and vegans should supplement with vitamin B12.

A graph labeled Steak vs Kale percent RDA in 100 calories, Vegan Nutrients (Iron, Omega 3 and Calcium) of 100 calories of Steak vs Kale the veganprimarycare.com logo is at the bottom

“There’s absolutely no way you could eat sufficient calories of a varied plant-based diet and become protein deficient.”

Garth Davis, M.D. Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It

A vegan doctor won’t ask you, “where do you get your protein?”

A vegan doctor knows that you don’t have to scarf down meat to get protein. When measured per calorie, plant foods have high amounts of protein. They contain nearly as much as animal foods. It’s difficult (if not impossible unless you are starving) to be deficient in protein. 

Most people eat too much protein! If you eat food, then you are getting enough protein! 

It is true that meat contains a lot of protein. But at what cost? Meat contains harmful saturated fat, cholesterol, and hormones.

A graph labeled Protein in meat vs plants per 100 calories containing similar proteain values kale, soy, broccoli and steak, the veganprimarycare.com logo is at the bottom
An image similar to the Dr. Seuss characters thing 1 and thing 2 which are made green. They are labeled vegan 1 and vegan 2, to indicate a vegan doctor is just like you

I’m already vegan, so why do I need a vegan doctor?

Being vegan is a lifestyle choice that conventional doctors don’t understand. You eat a plant-based diet. There’s no need to explain that to a vegan doctor, because they get it. They understand exactly where you’re coming from.
 
You won’t have to face judgement or ridicule. You won’t have to explain and teach your doctor about the benefits of a plant-based diet.
 
For many vegans, having a like-minded doctor equals peace of mind.

What if I'm not vegan? Why do I need a vegan doctor?

A vegan doctor examines you through a different lens than a conventional doctor.  A vegan doctor focuses on prevention, optimizing your health and curing your disease. 

Most doctors focus on two things: drugs and surgery. By using pills, they spend their time treating instead of curing your illness. Most doctors know very little about nutrition. They ignore the cause of most diseases, which is diet and lifestyle. 

You can treat and reverse most chronic conditions by changing what you eat. For example, diet can treat high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

What if I have no insurance? Can I afford a vegan doctor?

If you are on a budget, then it is important to have a vegan doctor. 

Eating right is much cheaper than paying for the health consequences. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Consider the costs of a lifetime of blood pressure pills vs changing your diet.

Will a vegan doctor turn me away if I eat meat?

Everyone is on their own health journey. If you smoke, your doctor will not turn you away. Instead they will let you know that smoking is harmful and give you tips on how to quit. 

A vegan doctor is similar in this way, because they will help you transition to a healthy diet. 

No one is perfect, and most people eat animal products. It can be challenging  to make the transition when animal products are all around us. 

It will take time and practice to change your eating habits, but you can do it. Besides, plant-based food is delicious, and enjoyable. Learning and preparing new recipes is a lot of fun.

A picture with the words all diet types, and a sign that says welcome we are open, in the background is an open door that is blue, the veganprimarycare.com logo is at the bottom

Are traditional medications harmful?

It is true that US medications get rigorous safety studies. They provide powerful and life saving effects. 

But most medications have annoying side effects. This is especially a problem when you have to take another pill to fight the first med’s side effects.

The best way to treat a chronic medical problem is to treat the causes. By treating the cause you can avoid medications.

Do vegan doctors prescribe medications?

Yes. A vegan doctor does prescribe medications but looks for possible ways to avoid them.
Pills vs Plants a picture showing pills and tomato's to encourage patients to eat a healthy diet instead of having to take pills veganprimarycare logo

Can a vegan doctor treat and reverse chronic diseases?

Yes. With a plant based diet, a vegan doctor helps you wean off chronic medicines. 

Animal foods contain high fat, cholesterol and salt. By stopping these foods your health often improves. By eating a diet of healthy plant foods, you can usually wean off statins or blood pressure pills. 

Many ailments respond to a whole food plant-based diet. Here are some examples. Click here for references.  

Heart Disease (Ornish) (Esselstyn) (Huang)

Heart Failure (Lara)

High Blood Pressure (Fraser) (Yokoyama et al)

High Cholesterol (Yokoyama, and Barnard)

Diabetes (Fraser) (Qian)

Obesity (Fraser) (Turner-McGrievy)

Photo taken by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., M.D. of a before and after images of heart catheterization x rays from 1996 to 1999 showing improved coronary blood flow and proving heart disease reversal with a plant based diet

Why isn’t my doctor a vegan doctor?

With such solid evidence, it is astounding that more doctors aren’t already vegan. This is likely because it is hard to change our minds about what we eat and hard to break old habits. A doctor who eats meat is not going to tell their patients to avoid animal products.

“There are two kinds of cardiologists: vegans and those who haven’t read the data.”

Dr. Kim Williams

Past President American College of Cardiology

How should I encourage my doctor to become a vegan doctor?

You can help your doctor become a vegan doctor. The best way to convince them is through your good health. Next, ask for their support and understanding. If they show interest, then ask them to watch a vegan diet documentary.

A few of the many vegan diet documentaries include:

Forks Over Knives

What The Health

The Game Changers

Movie poster of Forks Over Knives a documentary about a how a vegan diet can treat and reverse chronic diseases

Is a vegan doctor just another fad?

Vegan doctors are here to stay. The evidence continues to roll in as more and more studies prove the benefits of a plant-based diet. There is no other diet proven to stop and reverse the number one killer in the US, which is heart disease.

Studies have shown these benefits for many years but it is also taking hold in modern culture. More and more conscientious people are becoming vegan. As the benefits become more well known, then more doctors will become vegan doctors.

Photo showing healthy fruit and vegetables on a rustic wooden tabletop with the words “healthy Diets stand the test of time” and below is the logo for veganprimarycare.com

Is a vegan doctor holistic?

Yes. A vegan doctor understands the connection between the mind, body and spirit. Imbalances in any of these areas affect your health. 

A vegan doctor will focus on the root cause to cure chronic illness and recommend ways to improve your life. This involves a vegan diet, enjoyable exercise, quality sleep, supportive relationships and reduced stress. 

A depiction of holistic care featuring a human silhouette on a triangle with the words mind body and spirit at the points below is the logo for veganprimarycare.com

How it works!

  1. Go to the www.veganprimarycare.com/portal/ to register.  If you are a new patient then select the option to register.
  2. Schedule an appointment: Schedule your initial one hour appointment.
  3. Complete an online doctor’s visit. Meet online with Dr. Harrington using video or telephone. The doctor will listen to your concerns, learn about your way of eating, exercise and stress level. The doctor will address any questions you have, and discuss healthy goals.
  4. Comprehensive testing. If needed, Dr. Harrington can schedule laboratory tests. You can get labs at a local lab, Quest Diagnostics or LabCorps. Testing is usually not required. Tests can show  signs that inflammation and cholesterol are trending down. Dr. Harrington will review the results and call you on the phone. You can also get your results through the online portal.
  5. Healthy Goals and Treatment Plans. Dr. Harrington will set reasonable goals and help you along the way. With each step forward, you will see more and more healthy benefits.
  6. Optimization and Follow-up. Meet with Dr. Harrington as needed to adjust and refine your treatment plan. Dr. Harrington will help you make the best of your situation, condition and resources.

Written By:

Dr. Scott Harrington, D.O. 

A Vegan Primary Care doctor, who is Board Certified in Family Medicine. He can be your online vegan doctor. Contact him at

email@veganprimarycare.com.

A round image of Dr. Scott Harrington, a vegan doctor, with a white background and blue frame

 

Nicky VanValkenburgh

Writer for Vegan Primary Care, based in Greenville, SC

Photo of Nicky VanValkenburgh, author and journalist, in a round blue frame

References:

  1. Esselstyn Jr, Caldwell B. “Resolving the coronary artery disease epidemic through plant‐based nutrition.” Preventive cardiology 4.4 (2001): 171-177. (PubMed, Full Text)
  2. Fraser, Gary E. “Vegetarian diets: what do we know of their effects on common chronic diseases?.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 89.5 (2009): 1607S-1612S. (PubMed, Full Text)
  3. Huang, Jiaqi, et al. “Association Between Plant and Animal Protein Intake and Overall and Cause-Specific Mortality.” JAMA Internal Medicine 180.9 (2020): 1173-1184. (PubMed, Full Text)
  4. Lara, Kyla M., et al. “Dietary patterns and incident heart failure in US adults without known coronary disease.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 73.16 (2019): 2036-2045. (PubMed, Full Text)
  5. Ornish, Dean, et al. “Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease.” Jama 280.23 (1998): 2001-2007. (PubMed, Full Text)
  6. Turner-McGrievy, Gabrielle M., et al. “Comparative effectiveness of plant-based diets for weight loss: a randomized controlled trial of five different diets.” Nutrition 31.2 (2015): 350-358. (PubMed)
  7. Qian, Frank, et al. “Association between plant-based dietary patterns and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” JAMA internal medicine 179.10 (2019): 1335-1344. (PubMed)
  8. Yokoyama, Yoko, et al. “Vegetarian diets and blood pressure: a meta-analysis.” JAMA internal medicine 174.4 (2014): 577-587. (PubMed)
  9. Yokoyama, Yoko, Susan M. Levin, and Neal D. Barnard. “Association between plant-based diets and plasma lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Nutrition reviews 75.9 (2017): 683-698. (PubMed, Full Text)