In order to understand the resistance to the published literature on plant-based nutrition it’s important to realize a few things about the way research gets translated into consensus and thus, medical practice. There is currently an emphasis on randomized double-blinded controlled studies as the gold standard for “proof” that a pill works or, in our case, if a diet works. However, this standard is not necessarily appropriate in all disciplines, nutrition being one of them (due to the impossibility of blinding patients to what they eat). Deciphering what evidence is convincing and when the burden of proof has been met for certain fields is a skill that all future physicians absolutely need to learn and is encompassed by the "art of medicine." That is, the research will not always be black and white. In certain situations a physician must look at the quality of the research (even given the shortcomings of a small trial or the trial not being randomized) and decide if it is compelling enough to give their patient the best shot at a healthy life.
Our challenge is, and has been, convincing individuals to take a hard look at the studies and to connect that information to the real life patient results. Only through doing this can you begin to truly understand the impact that is possible with plant-based nutrition. After all, each and every one of us in medicine came to this field with grandiose ideas of helping PEOPLE and curing disease, not merely treating symptoms. Patient-centered medicine ought to be the end goal of any and all treatment considerations, and fortunately for us, plant-based nutrition is wholly concerned with helping patients live their most fulfilling, happiest, and healthiest lives.
There is still much work to be done and we will keep moving forward, setting up meetings with other faculty in other courses. We continue to have the support of the Assistant Dean of Basic Science Education, Dr. Matt Jackson, and are working directly with him to coordinate these meetings. His support in helping us achieve our goals has been instrumental to our successes thus far, and we are so appreciative of his efforts on our behalf.
I am positive that we have the right people at the right time to make magic happen here at Wayne State University School of Medicine. We have the opportunity to lead the charge in plant-based nutrition in medical education, and I am confident in our abilities to make this happen! I can’t think of a better copilot to take this project on with than Amanda, whose persistence and commitment to the cause are contagious.
Watch out world! We are coming for you!