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  • Vegetarian & Vegan Doctors & Dietitians

    You'd think that all doctors would be experts at nutrition, but the sad fact is that medical schools emphasize only drugs and surgery for the treatment of disease, and teach little about how important lifestyle is to good health.  And then there's bias:  Med students and doctors who grew up eating meat and liking it aren't exactly looking for evidence that contradicts their own lifestyle.  And let's not forget that doctors used to endorse cigarettes!  Change is slow.  Here's a good article explaining why doctors are generally uninformed about nutrition.  Even the food-based disciplines aren't much better.  When I studied nutrition at the University of Texas, veganism and vegetarianism were depicted as dangerous choices popular among only the trendy or na´ve, and what was taught about protein and micronutrients was in stark contrast with what the science actually says.

    But things are changing.  More and more doctors are waking up to the fact that drugs and surgery don't effectively treat most degenerative disease, much less prevent it.  When they take a hard look at what the science says about diet and health, more and more of them are supporting healthy eating centered on unrefined plant foods.

    Below is a list of vegetarian and vegan physicians, or those who advocate vegetarian diets.  I welcome submissions to this page. Candidates should be credentialed physicians in any country, and their credentials and support of vegetarianism should be listed on a credible website.  I won't list a doctor in this section based on hearsay.

    Vegetarian (or vegetarian-supporting) Medical Doctors in the U.S.

    (Those who are currently accepting patients, as far as we know, are highlighted in yellow.
    You might be able to find vegetarian-sympathetic physicians in your area at T. Colin Campbell's site or the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.)

    Neal Barnard, M.D. (Vegan since the 80's) Founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in 1985, which promotes vegan diets and has about 5000 doctors as members. Salon bio/interview  (added June 2003)

    Mark Berman, M.D.  (Vegan)  Runs a blog from the perspective of a "Vegan MD".  He's a corporate doctor (not in private practice), working for a company which develops health programs for workers. source  (June 2011)

    Dumrong Chiewsilp, M.D.  Based on a study, recommends that AIDS patients can live longer, healthier lives on a vegetarian diet. source   (June 2003)

    Hans Diel, Dr. Hsc.  Since the late 80's has promoted vegetarian/vegan diets in large community medicine projects where 500 to 3000 people enroll in a 40-hour educational program designed to facilitate the evolution of a healthier culture within the culture-at-large. source   (June 2003)

    Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D.  (Vegan)  Conducted a remarkable 20-year research study by putting patients with advanced heart disease on a low-fat vegan diet.  That's all that was necessary to reverse their disease.  Former President Clinton credits Dr. Esselstyn (and others) with his decision to go plant-based, which contributed to his losing extra weight and reversing his own heart disease.  website   (Jan. 2011)

    Joel Furhman, M.D.  (South New Jersey) On the board of directors of the National Health Association, which promotes the benefits of plant-based diets. Author of Eat to Live. website   (June 2003)

    Michael Greger, M.D.  Debated the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Director before the FDA and was invited as an expert witness to defend Oprah Winfrey in the infamous "meat defamation trial." Taught part of Dr. T. Colin Campbell's famous nutrition course at Cornell University. Created AtkinsExposed.org to debunk the Atkins diet, and runs NutritionFacts.org. Coordinates the mad cow disease website for the Organic Consumers Association. DrGreger.org   (May 2005)

    Henry Heimlich, M.D.  Creator of the well-known Heimlich Maneuver for saving choking victims. Advisory board member of PCRM which promotes vegan diets. Bio   (June 2003)

    Walter E. Jacobson, M.D.  In May 2011, he wrote, "If you’re not a vegan, you’re killing yourself with the food you’re eating."  source    (June 2011)

    Michael Janson, M.D. (Mostly vegetarian since 1975)  Past president of the American College for Advancement in Medicine and the American Preventive Medical Association. source  (June 2003)

    Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D. (opthamologist)  Founder of the Society of Relegious and Ethical Vegetarians. source  (June 2003)

    John H. Kelly Jr., M.D.   Founding President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Dr. Kelly's website  (May 2012)

    Michael Klaper, M.D. (Vegan; Northern California)  Bio does not give start date, but given his publications looks to be since late 70's.  Director of the Institute of Nutritional Education and Research. Author of Vegan Nutrition: Pure and Simple. source  (June 2003)

    Matt Lederman, M.D. (Vegan)  "Dr. Lederman is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician with an avid interest in the field of nutrition and lifestyle medicine....Dr. Lederman has been seeking to change the way chronic illness is treated, with an emphasis on medication elimination and disease reversal through diet and lifestyle change. Dr. Lederman has participated in projects such as lecturing for the eCornell Certificate Program in Plant Based Nutrition and films such as Healing Cancer and Forks Over Knives. He also coauthored the popular new book, Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole: Your Guide to Optimum Health." source  (May 2012)

    John A. McDougall, M.D. (Mostly vegan since about 1983; Northern California)  Author of several exhaustively-researched books about the health advantages of vegan diets, and the first credentialed physician to endorse vegan diets, way back in 1983. source  (June 2003)

    Irena Medkova, M.D. (Vegetarian)  Russian physician and author. Article  (June 2003)

    Milton Mills, M.D.  "Medical research shows conclusively that a plant-based diet reduces chronic disease risk, so that’s something I absolutely encourage my patients to move toward." source  (June 2011)

    Dean Ornish, M.D. (Assumed to be mostly vegan since the mid-80's.)  Ornish was the first researcher to successfully reverse heart disease in a study. The primary component of his treatment was a low-fat vegetarian diet.  He does recommend a small amount of fish oil.  source  (June 2003)

    Alona Pulde, M.D.   "Alona is a board-certified practitioner of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and Family Medicine Physician specializing in nutrition and lifestyle medicine. Dr. Pulde is lead author of the book, "Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole: Your Guide to Optimum Health." She also developed the Lifestyle Change Program used for patients in the film Forks Over Knives, [and formerly] in her clinic, Exsalus Health & Wellness Center. Drs. Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman joined Whole Foods Market in 2010 to help found the company’s Wellness Clubs and serve as health and wellness medical experts."  source  (May 2012)

    Vegetarian Doctors outside the U.S.

    Luciana Baroni, M.D.  (Italy) Runs the "blog di un medico vegetariano".  (May 2012)

    John Wedderburn, M.D.  (China) Founded the Hong Kong Vegan Society. source  (May 2012) 


    Retired, Not currently practicing, or Deceased

    Charles Attwood, M.D. , 1932-98. Vegan, length of time unknown

    World-famous pediatric physician and activist. As a result of his work the 1996 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans admitted for the first time that a vegetarian diet could be healthy. Dietary advice, Bio #1, Bio #2   (June 2003)

    William Harris, M.D.  1930-, vegetarian since 1950, vegan since 1963, and author of the book "The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism".  website   (May 2012)

    Anna Kingsford, M.D. , 1846-1888. Vegetarian

    Pioneer as one of the first women physicians in the U.S.. Bio   (June 2003)

    (Dr. Albert Schweitzer) Probably not vegetarian.

    Though Schweitzer is the source of many pro-animal quotes that adorn vegetarian websites, we've seen no reliable source that claims he was actually a vegetarian, and a couple which insist that he wasn't.  For now we'll consider this similar to the myth that Hitler was a vegetarian. Bio, article   June 2003

    Benjamin Spock, M.D. Vegetarian until age 12 and from age 88 to 94

    The most well-known pediatrician of all time. Bio  (June 2003)

    Jane Ward, M.D.  (mostly vegan)

    I attended a presentation in March 2012 in which Dr. Ward described herself as "mostly vegan".  Her two daughters are vegetarian, and bicycled across the U.S. in 2012 to support Safe Routes to Schools.  Dr. Ward was an opthamologist for the military, and as of March 2012 is grad student in the Physical Activity and Public Health track at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Service in Washington DC.  She 's also an athlete, completing over 8 marathons, the 24 hour/50 mile Caledonian Challenge in Scotland, and in the past four years, over ten triathlons including a Half-Ironman.  As one bio says, "Dr Ward feels strongly that the path to a healthier US population is through both healthier nutrition and increased physical activity."  (March 2012)

    Vegan & Vegetarian Dietitians

    Most Well-Known

    Brenda Davis, R.D.  Past chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association. Inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame in July 2007.  Author of seven vegan/vegetarian books.  Based in British Columbia.  (May 2012)

    Jack Norris, B.S., R.D.  Also runs VeganHealth.org.   (March 2012)

    Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.  (March 2012)

    Susan Havala Hobbs, Ph.D, R.D. (Primary author of the ADA's 1988 and 1993 position papers on vegetarianism.)  (March 2012)

    Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D. (Volunteer with the Vegetarian Resource Group.)  (March 2012)

    Ginny Kisch Messina, R.D.  (Runs TheVeganRD.com)  (March 2012)

    Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D. (Vancouver, B.C.)  Co-author of seven vegan, vegetarian, and health books, and Vesanto coauthored the 2003 Position of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and Dietitians of Canada (DC): Vegetarian diets


    Amanda Benham, Accredited Pracising Dietitian and Nutritionist (Australia)  (May 2012)

    Mark Messina, Ph.D (nutrition)  (May 2012)

    Large list at VegetarianNutrition.net  (May 2012)

    Other Resources

    The Vegetarian Network of Victoria, Australia publishes a list of vegetarian-friendly doctors, who are not necessarily vegetarian themselves.

    The International Vegetarian Union maintains a list of famous vegetarians.

    Last Update:  May 2012 

  • Why be vegetarian? Save animals, get healthy, lose weight, help the planet -- take your pick!
  • All about Protein. All vegetables have plenty of protein. Even lettuce. How do you think elephants get so big? :)
  • Is meat-eating natural?  Our bodies are optimized for eating plants, not meat. Read all about it here.
  • Vegetarian Myths.  From "plants aren't a complete protein" to "Hitler was a vegetarian", we run down all the common misconceptions here.
  • Vegetarianism and the Environment.  Meat production involves horrific amounts of water, land, energy, and pollution, compared to plant foods. Going veg. is the easiest way to lessen your impact.
  • This website is not medical advice.  While the author has tried to ensure the accuracy of the information on this site, and while he quotes many medical doctors, he is not a medical doctor himself, and this website is not medical or nutritional advice. Anyone contemplating nutritional changes should seek the counsel of a qualified health professional.

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