More than 1,100 doctors have committed to adopting a vegan diet for one week this month. The pledge, called the 7-Day Plant-Based Challenge, was launched by vegan cardiology fellow Dr. Danielle Belardo, also known as “The Veggie MD,” in a bid to help veg-curious individuals make the switch.
The challenge was issued by Dr. Belardo last week in an Instagram post: “This challenge is for ANYONE and EVERYONE! If you’re pescatarian, vegetarian, or a full-on omnivore,” she wrote. “No meat, dairy, chicken, fish, pork, eggs, for 7 days! Tag your friends to join the challenge with you!”
So far, over 1,100 physicians, along with thousands of others, have pledged to take the weeklong vegan challenge, Belardo told LIVEKINDLY. Those who are already vegan are also welcome to join the challenge by committing to following a whole foods, plant-based diet, which emphasizes avoiding processed foods and oils, for one week.
“Originally I got the idea to do the challenge after several physicians on social media started to ask me how they could transition to a plant-based diet,” she said. “I realized so many physicians from my generation are interested in plant-based nutrition, and I immediately thought doing a challenge would be a great start! My birthday is October 22nd, and I am asking all of both my physician and non-medical followers to give up all animal products for 7 days, starting on the 22nd!”
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7 DAY PLANT BASED CHALLENGE! ⠀⠀ I am so inspired by so many of my new friends here on IG who are interested in giving plant based diet a try. ⠀⠀ Well… let’s DO it! My birthday is coming up: Oct 22nd! And I have one birthday request for all of my friends… do a 7 day whole food plant based challenge with me! Starting on Monday, October 22nd! ⠀⠀ This challenge is for ANYONE and EVERYONE! If you’re pescatarian, vegetarian, or a full on omnivore, give this challenge a try and give up all animal products for 7 days! No meat, dairy, chicken, fish, pork, eggs, for 7 days! Tag your friends to join the challenge with you! ⠀⠀ If you’re already vegan, challenge yourself to go whole food plant based for the week: fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and cutting out processed foods! If you’re already fully plant based, tag your friends here and challenge them to try going vegan for a week! ⠀⠀ You can do anything for 7 days! ⠀⠀ I can’t wait for so many of my physician friends who are interested in going vegan to try out going plant based for a week! ⠀⠀ And…I want all of my ALL star plant based friends on here to join! Support all of my non-vegan friends on their challenge and we will all support each other! Post your recipes/and what you’re making with the hashtag #7dayVeggie ! ⠀⠀ Stay tuned – I’ll be posting a fantastic “how to” guide with recipes, grocery lists, and more, to help get you ready for the challenge in 2 weeks!
“To help out going plant-based – (which longtime vegans forget can be VERY confusing for a beginner) I created a comprehensive guide on my website,” Dr. Belardo continued. “If they go to www.theveggiemd.com and register for the challenge, they will be signed up to get a full guide which includes not only motivational information and health statistics from the World Health Organization, but also incredible whole food plant-based recipes from some very talented plant-based Instagrammers who kindly donated their recipes to the challenge!”
“I know many people have said ‘why just one week’ but I emphasize in the guide that I’m hopeful this can be the beginning of a lifetime of plant-based nutrition and compassionate living for not only the healthcare professionals who have signed up for the challenge, but all of the individuals who joined,” she added.
In recent years, members of the medical community and studies have illustrated the numerous health benefits of a plant-based diet versus the meat-and-cheese heavy Standard American Diet. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, one can reduce their cancer risk by as much as 40 percent by eschewing all animal products, exercising regularly, and avoiding sugary drinks and alcohol.
At the six-annual International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference, medical professionals attended panels discussing evidence-based nutrition about the health risks associated with meat and dairy and the potential of vegan food as a powerful form of preventative medicine. Over the summer, vegan Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announced the launch of the Plant-Based Lifestyle Program at Bellevue Hospital, the oldest public hospital in the nation, which will provide patients with information, guidance, and support to lead a healthy lifestyle.
“I am so hopeful that physicians from across the globe have signed up to give up animal products starting next week,” Dr. Belardo continued. “If I can convince even just a fraction of these doctors, to integrate this with their patients, it will be the best birthday gift of all.”
At Dr. Belardo’s cardiology clinic at the Lankenau Medical Center, she teaches patients how they can prevent and alleviate symptoms of cardiovascular disease by adopting a plant-based diet. Many patients have normalized their blood pressure, have been able to safely stop taking their blood pressure medication, seen a disappearance of chest pain, lost weight, and reduced their risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, and diabetes under her guidance.
Dr. Beldardo’s 7-Day Plant-Based Challenge kicks off on October 22. All who take the pledge will gain access to a free 20-page guide to following a whole foods, plant-based diet. For more information, visit her official website.
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