By now, one has likely heard that a plant-based diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains can benefit a number of modern-day afflictions while at the same time helping people attain a balanced weight and experience more energy. A review published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition supports this. Reportedly, a vegan diet (devoid of all animal products) can be credited with reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes by 62%, reducing the risk of death or a hospitalization from a heart attack by 32%, and reducing the risk of developing all forms of cancer by 18%.
One might wonder, however, how soon such a seemingly limited diet might benefit those who adopt it. After hearing a presentation from colleague Joanne Evans, M.Ed., R.N., P.M.H.C.N.S.-B.C. at Virginia’s George Mason University, a group of nurses’ interest was certainly piqued. Nineteen of the healthcare workers were inspired to see just how powerful a vegan diet is, therefore, adopted a physician-approved variation of the way of eating for twenty-one days.
The nurses followed the free program “21-Day Vegan Kickstart,” which was created by the non-profit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The meal-planning program launches the first day of each month and helps those who follow along stick to dietitian-created meal plans and grocery shopping lists. It also offers inspirational tips, videos of cooking demos and grocery store tours, in addition to other free resources.
In March 2017, a self-reported plant-based dietary review of the nurses’ collective experience was shared in an issue of the American Journal of Nursing. After 21 days, the women reported the following:
- Six of the nurses reported gains in energy.
- Ten of the nurses lost weight, with an average weight loss of 4.4 pounds; from a range of 1.5 to 9 pounds.
- Seventy-four percent of the nurses (14 out of 19) lowered their cholesterol, with a mean average of 18 mg/dL.
- But six of those 14 lowered their cholesterol by a notable 45 to 60 mg/dL!
- Eight of them reported feeling highly satisfied with their health, while only one nurse reported this before the test began.
- After the program concluded, the nurses reported eating more fruit and vegetables on a regular basis.
- After the program concluded, the nurses reported eating less meat and dairy.
It seems clear that there are only benefits to including more plant-based foods into one’s dietary regime. While one doesn’t necessarily need to go 100% vegan, there now exists a plethora of evidence that reducing one’s intake of animal products can offer numerous health benefits.
A statement reads:
“The nurses in the program achieved metabolic benefits without counting calories, measuring portion sizes, or adhering to strict rules. They received support through weekly webinars with Evans, who answered questions about day-to-day challenges, provided advice about nutrient intake and cooking procedures, and offered feedback about how to integrate options for family and friends into every meal.”
Says Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C., creator of the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart, president of the Physicians Committee, and an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences:
“Large bodies of research show a plant-based vegan diet boosts weight loss, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol, and stabilizes blood sugar. We now have preliminary evidence that this way of eating boosts energy, too. The secret is to stick with the prescription since the health benefits last as long as you’re putting the dietary principles into practice. A plant-based vegan diet is not a fad diet, but a new approach to eating, a new approach to health, and a new approach to life.”
What are your thoughts? Would you consider going vegan for 21 days?