The Importance of Science and Research in Veganism

by | January 31, 2018

As someone who lives and breathes science, it is often exasperating for me to read comments from vegans that suggest alternative medicine rather than sound medical advice, especially when it comes to the health and welfare of their children. But, if you watch any of the various documentaries about animal agriculture and the effect of animal product consumption on our health, you will understand why people have a deep mistrust for any professional organization, despite their many credentials. After all, we have been led to believe by the organizations we are supposed to trust with our health, that the consumption of animal products is not only healthy and nutritionally required, but also that we are generally kind to the thousands of animals that are slaughtered every day. So how are we supposed to believe anything else they suggest when it appears that they don’t have our health in mind?

The job of a documentary is to be inflammatory

Most documentaries are inflammatory, and for good reason. That reason is to get people to talk, to make people pay attention and to read and research for themselves rather than blindly believe the things they are told. And most documentaries about animal agriculture achieve these things. Increasing amounts of people are becoming plant-based each and every day. So why I am complaining? Because the same people who figured out organ transplants, who discovered ABO blood groups, who have invented and discovered countless ways to keep people alive, are the same ones who are now mistrusted by a significant amount of people.

I love all of these documentaries so don’t get me wrong, they highlight some very real and disgusting truths about the powerful and influential industry of animal agriculture. Like any other billion-dollar corporation, greed often stands in the way of morality, something that does not end at the country farmers doorstep. However, the revelations of this undeniable collusion to keep money in the meat and dairy industry’s pocket, has resulted in a culture of distrust by those who watch.

A choice between continued belief and natural medicine

There is a division in the vegan community between those who still have faith in the research and medical field versus those who pile everyone together. And without a doubt, intersecting problems exist. Knowing the dangers, physicians and dietitians still recommend animal products, charity health organizations still accept financial sponsorships from meat and dairy corporations, and schools still encourage dairy and animal product consumption to children.

It is important to remember however, that these people and groups are victims of the very same deception depicted in these documentaries. They also grew up loving the family pet while eating the country cow. They were taught that animal protein and cows milk was necessary and good for you. It’s very difficult to make any omnivore believe that these things are simply untrue, that they are lies. And while we should have higher expectations and standards for our medical team, tearing down this culture is going to take more than a few documentaries.

We also need not forget, that without the persistent scientific research that occurs every day, the knowledge and facts presented in these documentaries would not even be known. The plant-based medical providers that do exist would not have facts and research to back up their stance. We would still retain our moral beliefs on animal agriculture, but we’d likely have a much more difficult time getting many people to care. Why? Because they have been led to believe that these things are necessary for our survival.

 

The great divide

There is a definite disconnect between biomedical research findings and clinical bedside medicine. How big this disconnect is depends on whom you talk to. A phrase called ‘from bench to bedside’ refers to the knowledge that moves in either direction from the laboratory bench to clinical observations and care made at the bedside. It is a complicated process because endless platforms exist and numerous people are involved. In order for gaps between biomedical findings and bedside care to come together, smoother and more coordinated efforts between those lines will need to occur. Beyond Bench and Bedside researchers conclude that in order to bridge those gaps, both sides need to focus explicit attention on the possible implementations of their findings, they need to come together to determine if their research will eventually be relevant and usable for intended patients and that carefully designing scientific methods needs to take place such that they connect the research to real life as closely as possible. We can be thankful that these conversations are definitely happening and then hopeful that we will see significant change in the very near future.

So what do WE do?

We need to seek out plant-based caregivers or ones who support a plant-based life without judgement. The simple rules of economics will absolutely push people to pay attention. Demand for a service will force an increase in its supply. If finding an actual plant-based team is not possible, we need to bring our concerns to our team in the form of facts and research studies. The Benefits of Patient Involvement for Translational Research concludes that it is worthwhile to investigate and plan for patient involvement in translational research, a promotion of the bench to bedside knowledge. We need to ask our providers if they are paying attention, ask them if they truly still feel that animal fat and protein is genuinely good for you. If they still turn their head from the proof, then it is time to move on to another provider, and then another one.

If we want to start repairing the disconnect between scientific research and the medical community, instead of shunning it, we need to face it head on and own our responsibility in it.

 

 

 

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