Vegans and vegetarians in the Washington D.C. metro area might want to check in with their health insurance providers on coverage for doctors at the Barnard Medical Center—the nation’s first plant-based vegan medical center in the U.S., now open.
Physician and author Neal Barnard of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine runs the center, which is expected to see about 4,000 patients per year.
While the center will operate like any medical facility, there will be additional focus on the importance of diet, and the many benefits in cutting out meat, eggs, and dairy and focusing more on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.
“Our center takes advantage of years of research conducted by the Physicians Committee research team and other researchers, showing how a new approach to medicine and nutrition could help prevent and reverse serious health problems,” the center’s website explains.
“We’ll offer additional resources—including cooking and nutrition courses, visits with our dietitians, and in some cases support groups—for weight loss, heart health, type 2 diabetes, and migraines and arthritis,” staff doctor Steve Neabore told Latest Vegan News. “For any condition which is known to respond well to dietary intervention, we will offer support and education for those patients.”
Today, more than one-third of Americans are overweight or obese, and diet-related illnesses like type 2 diabetes and heart disease are on the rise. While conventional treatment revolves around prescription drugs, Barnard Medical Center says that’s only one part of a successful treatment plan.
Switching to a plant-based or vegan diet may not just decrease your risk of heart disease and diabetes, it may also have benefits for your mental health. A recent study published by the National Institute of Health, found that a plant-based diet may also improve mental health and mood, "“A strict plant-based diet does not appear to negatively impact mood, in fact, reduction of animal food intake may have mood benefits,” the study authors wrote.
“The art of modern medicine is changing: We realize that many chronic health problems are not caused by a need for prescription medications, but rather by poor diet,” explains Dr. Neabore. “Barnard Medical Center will focus on treating the root cause of these problems, rather than only trying to alleviate the symptoms of chronic disease.”
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