As a practicing physician and nutritional educator, I’ve spent 20 years of my life teaching people about the relationship between nutrition and disease based on the results of the 30 to 40,000 medical journal studies I’ve reviewed.

I advise people on what they need to do to achieve good health, and that doesn’t necessarily mean a vegan diet. People can eat mostly raw food with some cooked vegetables, perhaps having a serving of animal products once or twice a week, and that can still be a healthy diet.

My role as a professional is to tell people how to make a “flexitarian” diet, either choosing what amount of animal products might be acceptable in the diet if they want that, or creating a vegan diet, ideal for health, and instructing them on the nutritional advantages of moving towards veganism and towards more raw foods. My role is to present nutritional science rather than to promote veganism.

I think it’s important to justify and support people making even gradual changes to what we see as ideal. You never know, some people will take longer to get there and so there have got to be a lot of different approaches in the way in which we try to entice, teach, motivate and educate people to make improvements in their health and move towards a plant-based diet.

I think that my message will have a better effect at moving the community towards the vegan diet, or towards a diet that is better for the environment and better for people’s health, if it doesn’t come from a person who has an underlying agenda of vegetarianism or veganism. If people want to learn more about the advantages of being vegan then that would be ideal, and there are reasons for that besides the obvious health issues. But I think that what I personally choose to do for moral or ethical reasons isn’t what my image as a physician specializing in nutrition is all about.

I have just one agenda, one purpose, and that’s to have each individual person’s needs met so they can achieve the best health possible for them. Then I can give people information that will most effectively motivate them to help them make the changes necessary to improve their health. Some people can make the change towards veganism all the way and other people can do it in more gradual steps, reducing animal products to more sensible amounts from 40% of the typical American diet down to 10% (of calories), or a diet with higher amounts of vegetables.

People have been misinformed and mis-educated. People graduate from school and the most important and most critical information that they could have learned about, health, they know nothing about. I marvel at the human body’s ability to reverse even very serious conditions, and its ability to maintain itself. That is so important for people to learn.

Nutrition shouldn’t be a belief system, and it shouldn’t be put into our social consciousness in schoolrooms based on wrong information that has led us down the path to dietary suicide. What is popular for political, economical and social reasons in this country is a diet that results in degenerative diseases. That’s why it is so important for me to take a stance on what a good diet would be, and to explain to people the factors that have governed their thinking in the past and why those factors are not based on science.

For example, the importance of dairy products in the diet has been sold to us, and advertised so much, that we accept it as a truth without knowing the science behind why that may not be the best source of our calcium. We have to go back and tear down that house and rebuild it anew. It’s important for me that people can come to me for unbiased, unaffected advice, not based on any predisposed notions, which is a fair interpretation of the scientific literature. You don’t want to have the milk industry doing studies and interpreting those studies and saying how good milk is for us. We want to have an independent person with no ties to the milk industry determining those studies, don’t we? Equally, we don’t want to have a person espousing the benefits of vegetables and the damaging effects of animal products if their sole agenda is an anti-animal consumption agenda.

We want an impartial opinion and I try to give people one. I want to make scientists and the community of people who read my information realize that they will get good information from me based on science. Should they choose to pursue their diet in one direction or another, at least that choice is not colored or affected by bad science.

I even see inaccurate, biased research being done by some authorities in the vegan community, whose agenda sometimes affects their interpretation. Exaggerations and distortions that polarize the country just give people a reason to reject information, and if we want to move society, our message will have a better effect if it is based on years of scientific scrutiny. We have to attack this problem of America’s dietary suicide in a different way.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman M.D.
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