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The Psychology of Changing to Plant Based Nutrition

Dr. Dulaney nutrition courseThe science is there and now it is actually been admitted by organizations like The World Health Organization. Eating plants is healthy. Complete nutrition can be adequately and tastily obtained through plants. There is no need to consume animal products. Animal protein is associated with lifestyle diseases such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Animal agriculture is harmful to the environment by the production of greenhouse gases greater than that produced by all transportation combined. Animal agriculture is not sustainable and cannot feed our growing world population. So called humane animal agriculture is not a means to feed the world and is still results in the production of greenhouse gases, poor utilization of the land and is at the end killing animals well younger than their natural age of death. Factory farming is associated with admitted cruelty to animals and harmful to the physical and emotional health of the farm worker.
So why are we all not plant based? Is it awareness? Perhaps somewhat. But that should be an easy thing to fix and despite all the information out there less than 6% of the United States population identifies themselves as vegan. But what if people were educated? How many would convert to plant based nutrition? This is a very difficult question given that less than 25% of physicians discuss the role of nutrition with regards to lifestyle diseases. As a physician that does for some years now I am finding that is it more than the ignorance of the benefits of plant based nutrition.
I discuss the benefits of eating plants to reverse heart disease with 100% of my patients. This occurs on the initial visit as well as follow-up visits. I do a dietary history and make suggestions to change standard menus to plant only menus. I personally teach our nutrition course which includes foods to taste, cooking demonstrations and shopping. Yet my success rate is limited. Why?
Taste for meat. Tradition of diets. Friends and acceptance. Inability to cook. Disbelief that nutrition will actually affect disease. You certainly do not hear this recommended through the media. On the contrary am TV shows showcase high fat, high calorie food with smiles of overindulgence all around. Billboards show greasy fast food and ads talk of all you can eat menus. Friends eat meat with friends. But where are those friends when the bad diagnosis of cancer or heart disease is handed out. I watch doctors in the hospital sneak bacon off the buffet in the lounge and then get a plate and hide more under the eggs. Lunch time rewards of Prime Rib or barbecue create a rush to line up. So how could a doctor recommend eating a plant based diet if they do not want to believe their indulgence or reward is the culprit of disease?
Why doe a spouse or significant other refuse to participate when the other is willing to try to reverse their disease? Loose a spouse or loose a burger? How can the perception of taste trump food that is healthy and tasty without even a little willingness to give it a try?
These are questions that make me love the challenge of practicing medicine. I love the dialogue. The more I get to know my patients the more I can understand what stands in the way of their health. That allows me to help them change sometimes. Sometimes it just allows me to support them with their decision. To be there for them as their health declines and hopefully to ease their suffering. But first I must be sure that I have done my very best to educate them that eating whole plant foods, unprocessed with little added oil is the way to prolonged health and wellbeing for them and the planet.

2 Comments
  1. Reply
    Barbara

    You rock Doc!!!

    • Reply
      Dr. Dulaney

      Thank you very much. It is very rewarding to see people do well and get better.

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