Garth Davis MD went through medical school without any instruction in nutrition — unless he counted the 60 minutes spent learning to administer an IV formula to a patient too sick to eat.
“As for what kinds of foods might be good for the rest of us humans? Not a single word,” Davis writes in his book, Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It. He was not alone; medical schools across the country have few to no nutrition class requirements.
“We’re intimidated by our doctors and other health authorities, not realizing that they have, if best, a layperson’s understanding of nutrition.”
But when he was 35, Dr. Davis got a personal wake-up call that what he needed to know about nutrition, he’d have to learn for himself. Looking in the mirror, he saw an overweight weight-loss doctor staring back.
“I’m only 35 and I’ve just been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and fatty liver,” he thought. “I also have terrible irritable bowel syndrome. To make matters worse, I’m supposed to be an expert at helping people lose weight. I feel like a hypocrite.”
And well he might have. He avoided vegetables and couldn’t remember when he’d last had a meatless meal. But none of that stopped him from publishing his 2008 book, The Expert’s Guide to Weight-Loss Surgery.”
Flash forward to 2015. With the release of Proteinaholic, Dr. Davis thoroughly repudiated his old diet recommendations. What had changed?
He’d turned to the one skill essential to all med-school students: research. After years of reviewing hundreds of large-scale scientific studies, he could reach only one conclusion: “People whose diets are high in animal protein have significantly higher rates of chronic disease.”
Topping the long list of research findings were some expected ailments, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But irritable bowel syndrome and high blood pressure, two of his own problems, were also there.
These studies had tracked thousands of people from many countries over many years. They clearly linked the consumption of animal proteins and saturated fat with obesity and chronic illness.
The bottom line? People who eat meat are heavier and sicker — and have a shorter lifespan — than people who don’t.
Dr. Davis’ research also showed how a diet of whole, plant-based foods can protect us from or reverse meat-related diseases. So Proteinaholic includes plant-based recipes and a meal plan for any readers ready to make the switch.
And — if you want to follow up with your own research — he explains in simple terms how to separate flawed and reliable studies. It’s one more benefit of his remarkable journey to embracing plant-based foods — and finding a non-hypocritical way to keep the weight off!