Let me start by saying that we love our doctor. Jane and I have been going to him for the last five years or more and he is excellent. Unlike most other doctors who seem to be working on a conveyor belt mentality, our doctor epitomizes compassion. He’s respectful of your time, he’ll answer all of your questions, he makes sure you understand what he’s talking about, all without keeping an eye on the clock. He actually appears concerned about you as a patient.
But when Jane was in for her last visit (pre-vegan) and told him we were “going vegan” he didn’t have much to offer. Jane asked him if there were any specific things she needed to concern herself with and all he had to say was to make sure that we ate enough protein and took a calcium supplement. Hmmm. For the first time we felt a little less confident in our doctor’s ability to take care of us.
It turns out, that’s probably the norm, at least as it relates to nutritional information. In an article entitled Doctors Get Poor Marks in Nutrition in the New York Times published way back in 1993:
A nationwide survey has found that even doctors who were taught the fundamentals of nutrition in medical school and who hold a favorable attitude toward the subject are unlikely to use basic nutrition in their encounters with patients.
And it doesn’t seem like things have changed all that much (from How Much Did Your Doctor Learn About Nutrition in Medical School):
A new study indicating that 60 percent of medical schools in the United States are not meeting minimum recommendations for their students’ nutrition education offers more reasons for consumers to seek food and nutrition advice from the experts: the registered dietitians of the American Dietetic Association.
The study, published in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concludes that “the amount of nutrition education in medical schools remains inadequate” 20 years after a report from the National Academy of Sciences found nutrition education programs in medical schools were “largely inadequate to meet the present and future demands of the medical profession.”
It seems to me if food can cause illness, food can cure illness. There’s certainly an overwhelming amount of evidence to prove that diet can cause cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. And I’d like my doctor to be able to speak to me about that in depth, not just suggest that I eat a balanced diet and take a multivitamin.
(Edited 2/21 — For further information on Vegan Nutrition, see our post dated 2/21 on Vegan Nutrition — How To Be A Healthy Vegan. And don’t forget to check out our Vegan Resources page, which has a wealth of vegan links.)