The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada have both released statements affirming that vegetarian and vegan diets are healthy at all stages of life, including infancy, adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy, and old age.
We encourage you as health care professionals, to support your patients’ choice to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet.
In fact, given that diet is strongly related to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes (see journal articles linked below), we hope you would encourage your patients to move towards a plant-based diet. It is one of the most effective things patients can do to improve their overall health, and our resources show how easy it is.
If you have any questions or concerns about the legitimacy of vegetarian and vegan diets, please consider the information contained in the references listed below.
A great book, written by registered dietitians providing an overview of nutrient requirements for people on a vegan diet is Vegan for Life by Jack Norris and Ginny Messina. This book can be your one-stop reference guide to keep on hand to answer questions for your patients such as, should they take a B12 supplement? What nutrients do they need to look out for? What if they are a teenager, or over 50?
(Available from our Resource Centre or on Amazon.)
Also The Dietitians Guide to Vegetarian Diets by Reed Mangels, Virginia Messina and Mark Messina.
The following are scientific journal articles documenting the benefits of a plant-based diet.
You can also find a continually updated list of recent journal articles here.
A Vegetarian Dietary Pattern as a Nutrient-Dense Approach to Weight Management: An Analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2011.
Position of the American Dietetic Association – Vegetarian Diets: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2009.
Type of Vegetarian Diet, Body Weight and Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes: Diabetes Care, 2009.
Cooked Meat and Risk of Breast Cancer: Epidemiology, 2007.
Diet and Body Mass Index in 38,000 EPIC-Oxford Meat-Eaters, Fish-Eaters, Vegetarians and Vegans: International Journal of Obesity, 2003.
Meat Intake and Mortality-A Prospective Study of Over Half a Million People: Arch Intern Med, 2009.
Plant-Based Diets and Control of Lipids and Coronary Heart Disease Risk: Current Atherosclerosis Reports, 2008.
Online Articles and Information
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: Health Topics Link
- This page provides links to articles on the impact a vegetarian or vegan diet can have on reducing disease and illness, such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc.
- These articles are provided by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a coalition of medical doctors in the United States, including representatives from Cornell University and St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: Continuing Medical Education for Family Physicians
- This website gives you the opportunity to take online courses for credit on how to promote good health through good nutrition, rather than relying on drugs
Tips for Your Patients
Below are resources you may wish to recommend to patients who are vegetarian or vegan, or who have expressed interest in adopting a plant-based diet.
Nutrition FAQs Link From the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
- This page provides links to commonly asked questions such as:
- Where can you get protein? Where to get calcium? Where to get B12?
Vegetarian Starter Kit From the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
- Info on the four vegan food groups
- Protein and calcium sources
- Vegetarian pregnancy
- Vegetarian Children