Going Veggie is Easy! Studies show most make a smooth change for better health

In a new study, Neal D. Barnard, MD, and his colleagues show that patients easily transition from a standard omnivorous diet to a low-fat, vegetarian diet that helps people lose weight, lower blood pressure and otherwise improve their health. Many doctors are aware that a low-fat vegetarian diet can reverse heart disease and provide other benefits; however, they mistakenly think that patients will not make the transition. Now, there are at least four studies published in scientific journals showing that patients can and do adapt to a “strict” diet that dramatically improves their health.

“For people battling overweight and heart disease, a vegetarian diet can be a life-saving prescription,” says Barnard, lead author and president of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “This new study shows that patients transition smoothly to a plant-based diet that allows them to eat to satiety and yet still lose weight. Patients are willing to make major changes in their eating patterns because they get major results such as lower cholesterol and reduced hypertension.”

The study group was composed of well-educated, postmenopausal, overweight women. They were divided into two groups: one was assigned to the low-fat vegetarian diet, and the other group followed a control diet. In addition to losing significantly more weight, 89% of the women on the low-fat vegetarian diet said they were feeling mostly or completely used to the diet at 14 weeks and 86% said they could continue with the vegetarian diet at least most of the time in the future.

A recent study showed that a vegetarian diet emphasizing almonds, soy and other healthful foods was as effective at lowering cholesterol as a statin drug.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, July 27, 2004