If physician, author, and vegan advocate Dr. Michael Greger has his way, hospitals will offer patients in confinement more nourishing plant-based options, including menus that are 100 percent vegan.
Greger recently responded to a resolution passed by the American Medical Association (AMA), which will encourage hospitals to add more plant-based food items to their foodservice programs.
In a statement made via his website, NutritionFacts.org, Greger welcomed the AMA resolution but also pointed out that dietary factors were noted in nearly 11 million deaths worldwide.
He further stated that this has not been helped because most medical schools across the globe do not educate future doctors enough regarding the value of encouraging patients to live healthy lifestyles.
A need to rethink nutritional education in medical schools
According to Greger, most medical students get an average of 19 hours’ worth of lecture and practice time when it comes to nutrition, while the bulk of their instruction time is spent on aspects of medicine that may not really be useful in their practice later on.
In fact, most medical school programs tend to be nutrition-averse, and students are, in Greger’s opinion, “de-educated” and only get into the nutritional aspect of medicine long after they have established themselves in the profession.
Interestingly enough, the clinical guidelines for numerous treatments, particularly for lifestyle-related conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, involve making a shift towards living a healthier life through a modified diet. But, as Greger laments, “How can clinicians put these into practice if they don’t have adequate training in nutrition?”
The AMA resolution actually comes at a pivotal point in the history of medicine and nutrition in the United States, if not the rest of the world. While India has long been at the forefront when it comes to vegetarian and 100 percent plant-based nutrition, the rest of the world has begun to follow suit. Japanese and Korean hospitals are offering macrobiotic meals based on traditional Buddhist or Shinto principles.
At present, hospitals in Denver, Manhattan, and Tampa have already begun offering vegetarian and vegan menus to their patients featuring nutritionally balanced plant-based items. It has also helped that these hospitals are pro-actively sharing nutritional information to patients and their families to improve their diets and encourage them to consume more plant-based products.
As Greger puts it, these developments were made possible by having a physician advocate in the facility and also by “re-educating” staff and patients regarding the benefits of plant-based nutrition.
“It’s about time we used the influential position of doctors within society [to help people live healthier,]” he said.