A Letter to a Hospital Nutrition Department

Posted on October 23, 2008

If you run a nutrition clinic of any sort, please consider my letter, written for the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

To Whom It May Concern:

I know that your department takes great care in providing excellent dietary advice for the speedy recovery of patients. This letter is to introduce information that you might find useful for the even greater improvement to the health of your patients.

Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine notes important observations regarding the plant-based diet and its broad benefits for health and the prevention of the most widespread chronic diseases, notably the ‘three killers’ in Australia.

Be assured that this statement results from the published work of medical professionals. The following information is summarised from the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s Preventative Medicine and Nutrition information page, located on the web at http://pcrm.org/health/prevmed/index.html.

  • Cancer: Breast, prostate and colorectal cancers are particularly associated with animal foods and saturated fat. Individuals eating beef, pork or lamb daily have three times the colon cancer risk compared to those who generally avoid those products. Studies show that eliminating meat from the diet reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Even when fat intake is controlled for, meat intake creates a breast cancer risk. Vegetarians have a greatly reduced risk for cancer in general.
  • Diabetes can be prevented and quickly reversed with a low-fat low GI plant-based diet. One study compared the effect of the American Diabetes Association diet and a plant-based diet on diabetes. In 22 weeks, half of the plant-based diet adherents were able to reduce their medications. Those that didn’t reduce their medication reduced their A1C by three times the ADA group, and also reduced more of their cholesterol (especially LDL). The plant-based adherents also lost on average four pounds more than the ADA diet group.
  • Heart Disease: Even with bypasses and transplants, dietary changes are needed in abating the onset of further atherosclerosis. A low-fat plant-based diet, mild exercise and other lifestyle changes can ensure that arterial plaque will actually start to disappear. All animal products contain cholesterol, even in the lean portions. No plant foods contain cholesterol.

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association and the Dieticians of Canada that “that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

What else we know is that plant-based diets are more cost-efficient, far more environmentally friendly in terms of water-use, greenhouse gas emission and land use. At the moment the entire planet is feeling stress in precisely these three areas. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation notes with alarm that meat production is set to double by 2050, at which time billions of the poorest people will face absolute water scarcity, and the effects of climate change will further destablise our climate affecting food yeild. At present, almost half the world’s grain and cereal is fed to livestock. At the end of this food chain, we recover approximately 10% of the original energy put into it. This means we produce enough food for ten billion people, while hundreds of millions starve. So on our plates could be the solution to a large portion of the world’s illness, hunger and environmental crisis.

I hope you are convinced that a change in the dietary standards for your hospital will quickly translate into improved hospital performance. Considering current standards, your department will become a leader in its field and the RBWH a pioneer in a healthier, happier and greener world.

Sincerely and with regards,