Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on Vegetarian Diets Webinar

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The popularity of plant-based vegetarian and vegan diets is increasing due the growing interest in healthier eating, environmental concerns and animal welfare.

In 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics released the updated Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets and these highlights will be discussed during the webinar.

  • How vegetarian diets meet the nutritional needs throughout the lifecycle.
  • The role of vegetarian diets in human health.
  • Vegetarian diets in the prevention and treatment of disease.
  • Effect of plant-based diets on the environment

As the Academy enters its Second Century of service to health professionals and the public it is the perfect time to reflect on this timely position paper.


John Westerdahl, PhD, MPH, RD, CNS, FAND

A graduate of Pacific Union College and Loma Linda University School of Public Health, John’s degrees are in the fields of food, nutrition and health education. With an interest in spiritual wellness and its relationship to health, John also has an MA degree in religion. He serves as a consultant to Bragg Live Food Products and the Bragg Health Foundation. He has previously served as Director of Wellness & Lifestyle Medicine and Nutritional Services for Castle Medical Center in Hawaii, Director of the Murad Inclusive Health Center and Murad Inclusive Health Medical Group in Los Angeles, Senior Nutritionist for the Shaklee Corporation, Director of Nutrition for Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods in San Francisco, and Nutrition Editor for Veggie Life Magazine. He was also the staff nutritionist for Millennium Restaurant, San Francisco’s premier vegetarian cuisine restaurant and coauthored the book, The Millennium Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine. His popular radio talk show, Nutrition and You, and television show, Tasty and Meatless, reached thousands every week throughout the Hawaiian Islands. John’s weekly national radio talk show, Health & Longevity, is broadcast on the LifeTalk Radio network. For several years he served as the VN State Coordinator for Hawaii and California and was the first recipient of the Cyndi Reeser Outstanding State Coordinator of the Year Award. In addition to his membership in the Academy, John is an active member in the American College of Nutrition and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

Vesanto Melina, MS, RD

Lead author of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ current Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets. She is an internationally known speaker and co-author of award winning books that are classics on plant-based nutrition, most with Brenda Davis, and now in 11 languages. Their most recent is Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition, written  for dietitians, MDs, and other health professionals, with 620 pages and entirely referenced. Half as long is Becoming Vegan: Express Edition. Vesanto is an internationally known speaker and government consultant, and has taught nutrition at Seattle’s Bastyr University and at the University of British Columbia. Her websites are www.becomingvegan.ca and www.nutrispeak.com.

Learning Objectives

Objective 1: Identify three reasons why appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan diets, are healthful and nutritionally adequate based on the latest scientific research from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ position paper on vegetarian diets.

Objective 2: Identify at least three chronic disease that may be prevented through a healthy vegetarian and/or vegan diet.

Objective 3: Describe at least two reasons why plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products.

Learning Codes:

  • 4040 Disease Prevention
  • 4110 Vegetarianism
  • 8018 Environmental, agricultural and technologic influences on food systems
  • 9020 Evaluation and application of research