For me this reflection has two aspects: professional and personal.
Professionally, I am a physical therapist and have worked at different hospitals in the southern U.S. in acute care for the past 6 years. I entered this profession to help people regain their functional mobility and I continue to enjoy my work. However, I often feel like I am fighting a losing battle because exercise and movement is only one part of the health equation. I see patients every day that suffer from stroke, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis resulting in joint replacements and obesity. Yet their breakfast and lunch trays (I’m not around for dinner) are full of less than healthy hospital food or even worse, they have bags of fast food brought in by well meaning family members. Many patients are often on so many medications they don’t even know what they are taking. People, though reluctantly, seem to accept that they need to move more (even if they choose not to) but do not understand the link between what they consume and their state of health.
Furthermore, the food for employees and visitors at most hospitals leaves much to be desired, even by conventional healthy standards. Pizza, cheeseburgers, fried or oil-laden food, sodas and sweet tea are all standard fare. On a plant-based diet options are severely limited. And why are departments having bake sales and taco chili lunches to raise money for organizations like the American Heart Association? This is a huge disconnect between the method and the goal.
Personally, I became pescatarian several years ago while in physical therapy school because, frankly, human cadaver muscle looks like meat and I couldn’t eat meat after that. I felt better and lost a few pounds on this diet although that wasn’t my goal. Earlier this year I began to read books, examine research articles and watch documentaries on plant-based nutrition. I subsequently changed my diet – and my husband’s. I am currently pregnant with our first child and I want to make the best nutrition choices for my family as I am the one doing most the grocery shopping and cooking. In addition, my husband and I are fitness buffs and I hope to learn more about the science of plant-based nutrition for athletes as most of the research and advice available focuses on lean meats, eggs and whey protein.