European Network for a Plant-Based Diet

Members Only Event: A Plant-Based Diet in the Clinical Setting

This members only meeting focused on a plant-based diet in a clinical setting. Joining us to discuss best practice examples and exchange their advice were Dr. Shireen Kassam, Dr. Patrick Deckers and Katie Cantrell.

Ein Tablett mit einer Portion Nudeln und Obst im Krankenhauszimmer

Bild von rawpixel.com auf Freepik

After highlighting how a plant-based diet can have a positive effect on our planet, our second July members meeting focused on a plant-based diet in a clinical setting. We were lucky to be joined by three renowned forces in the fight for inclusion of a plant-based diet in health care: Dr. Shireen Kassam from Plant-Based Health Professionals UK, Patrick Deckers from Caring Doctors (The Netherlands) as well as Katie Cantrell from Greener by Default (US).

To start off the conversation all three guest speakers introduced their work and shared some of the barriers they have come across in their daily activities. Among the barriers in the UK were organizational challenges from the NHS especially, since many people in hospitals are malnourished and the UK’s nutrition recommendations include reaching the calorie need and micronutrient density. Dr. Kassam also mentioned that there is a need for a grassroot movement, as in her opinion people that are in charge of net-zero nutrition campaigns in the UK aren’t doing enough and only cover about 20% of the reductions, there appears to be no great will to change. Dr. Deckers called for an improved education about plant-based diets and nutrition for dieticians. He also explained that one of their key messages is trying to communicate that in the fight against climate change it is not enough to just take small steps. To him another valuable learning is that the transition has to start in kindergartens and schools in order to later be able to capitalize it in their approach to hospitals. He furthermore recommends communicating the urgency of changing the population's diet. 

Presentation Greener by Default Presentation Plant-Based Health Professionals UK

Audience members from KLUG (The German Alliance for Climate Change and Health) shared similar problems, citing a difference in hospital systems within the federal states of Germany as one problem. Their current strategy is trying to engage in a bottoms-up approach including educating dietitians and chefs but also physicians, although chefs lacking knowledge in the preparation of plant-based dishes is another challenge. 

Katie Cantrell offered her advice: Some lessons learned from Greener by Default’s campaign are that adding more plant-based food options and framing the default plant-based meals as a pilot/test trial to see if it can succeed in the clients hospital. Hospitals can then see if the turnover decreases and if not, include more ‘easy’ plant-based options. She also shared that dishes people know and like are more easily accepted when offered in the plant-based version than completely unknown, new dishes and that training in culinary teams is hard but needs to be addressed.  In New York City several road shows, including taste testing and cooking shows were held. Doing taste tests with the frontline foodservice workers and nurses strengthened their willingness to participate and helped make them feel like a leader/part of the project, leading them to genuinely recommend the meals to patients. 

The three speakers concluded the conversation by highlighting some of their recent success cases and advertised new projects, like the 2023 VegMed conference.

The PlantEurope team thanks all speakers and audience members for their participation. Want to join our members only meeting? Become a PlantEurope member free of charge here. You can also join our community or subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date on plant-based news and events.