The Day I Started Questioning My Medical Training
I must confess that when I watched the Forks Over Knives (FOK) documentary a few years ago, I desperately wanted the doctors in the movie to be complete veggie-loving quacks. Why? Because if what they said was true, then the entire way I (and just about every doctor I knew) had been practicing medicine for nearly 18 years was just flat-out wrong. Could it be that all the pills and procedures I had prescribed were nearly worthless compared to all the good that a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet could do?
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I might have continued to practice medicine as I had always done if the following question hadn’t stuck in my mind: “Am I harming my patients by encouraging them to eat low-fat dairy foods?” I had to know.
I set out on a mission to learn everything I could about the lifestyle and came to the conclusion that these FOK docs were legitimate. They were highly respected, well-educated physicians and researchers with a mountain of evidence to back their claim that the standard American diet was the overriding cause of most of America’s degenerative diseases and that a WFPB diet was the way to prevent, treat, and even reverse them.
Then I got really mad: Why had I not been told this before? Why had I been trained to practice medicine in a way that neglected the cause of disease? What about the most powerful intervention for prevention and treatment available—our food!
I adopted the diet myself, and any lingering doubt quickly disappeared … along with my prediabetes, acid reflux, chronic constipation, hypothyroidism, and depression. To top it off, I lost an extra 25 pounds I had been carrying and had more energy than I had, well, ever! When my patients came in for their appointments, many saw how much healthier I looked and asked me what I was doing.
Good For Me, Good For My Patients
One of the first patients I introduced to this diet was a morbidly obese 64-year-old insulin-dependent type 2 diabetic with lousy sugar control, despite following the American Diabetes Association diet. In the first month of eating a WFPB diet, she was off half her insulin and had dropped her blood pressure so much we had to reduce her anti-hypertensive medication—twice!
I started to loan out copies of the FOK documentary to my patients. They would come back in saying, “Wow. I get it. What I eat is making me sick.” They knew they needed to get rid of the animal-based and processed foods, but they had no idea what they could eat. After all, the average American gets less than 10% of his or her calories from whole plants and was brought up planning meals around meat.
Following My Passion
In addition to working individually with patients, I’m now also the chief medical officer of 4Leaf Global, for whom I run a six-week plant-based nutrition class and help to develop new tools for patients. I view the plant-based doctors in Forks Over Knives not as quacks, but rather as brave pioneers. And though most of my medical colleagues are less than thrilled to see me challenging everything we have been trained to do, I do it anyway. My greatest desire is to live my life—and practice my profession—in a way that inspires my friends, patients, and other professionals to join me on this exciting journey!