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Doctors For Nutrition: 2021 in review and outlook for 2022

There is no doubt the last two years have left a profound mark on society. One benefit from this tumultuous period has been a wake-up call for health.

Doctors For Nutrition have been enthused to see the importance of healthy nutrition elevated. Over the course of the year it has been well documented that what we eat can affect our body’s ability to prevent, fight and recover from infections. There has also been broad recognition that human diets are inextricably linked to environmental sustainability. These facts have made the urgency for a shift to healthy plant-based nutrition even more critical.

Over the course of 2021 we have seen the ability for our global community to work together to solve problems. Doctors For Nutrition have seen the same response from our own passionate community who have connected with us at events, shared our educational material and supported us in our advocacy work.

In 2021, we continued to place evidence-based knowledge at the finger-tips of people across the healthcare sector and wider community via educational, events, website resources, policy submissions, mainstream and social media.

Our nutrition and health toolkit for clinicians has gained even more traction as a valuable resource. 4,000+ healthcare practitioners and their patients have downloaded it or received a complimentary copy via mail.

We teamed up with a range of dietitians, doctors and other plant-powered people to curate a set of delicious recipes. To-date more than 21,000 people have perused our collection to find out what’s for dinner.

2,200+ health professionals, students and members of the public took advantage of our exceptional line-up of expert presenters for our Food Vitals Webinar Series.

As part of the inaugural United Nations Food System Summit, we were honored to be joined by 52 experts from a range of healthcare and food-related fields for our Independent Food Systems Dialogue. The conversation focused on national dietary guidelines as a lever to attain a healthier, more sustainable and equitable food system.

Sadly, we farewelled 2 team members, including Catherine Laurence, who was integral to establishing our charity. We were, however, pleased to welcome 2 new team members and 2 new Advisory Council members. We enjoyed ongoing collaboration with our strategic partners and allies, and were grateful to be supported by 120 generous volunteers.

See further details of the year’s achievements in the snapshots below, and read on to discover what’s in store for 2022.

Growing our reach

in 2021 we:

  • Built our e-list to over 6,000 subscribers, doubling it since last year.
  • Had 78,000 unique website page views, our new recipe collection proving extremely popular (see more below).
  • Increased our social following to 16,200 across our social channels (up 22% from last year).
  • Enjoyed providing our expert-opinion across a range of magazines, newspapers, radio, podcasts and websites.
  • Continued our regular contributions to Nourish Magazine and New Zealand Vegan and Plant-Based Living.
2021 End of Year Infographic

Educational events

in 2021 we:

  • Ran 4 Food Vital Webinars, viewed more than 1,150 times. Each interactive session provided the opportunity to learn from our speakers’ extensive nutrition knowledge and clinical experience.

        I am a 64 year old GP practising medicine for 40 years. I only came across all the evidence for the benefits of WFPB this year thanks to DFN. I have completely changed my diet in the past 4 months and dropped my cholesterol back into the normal range. I promote WFPB to all my patients.

  • Reached thousands of healthcare professionals and students this year by collaborating, presenting and attending health conferences and webinars. This included:
    • The NZ General Practice Conference, Aotearoa’s largest GP conference
    • The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) Global Health Conference
    • The AMSA National Convention
    • AMSA Rural Health Summit
    • The Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine Diabetes Summit
    • The General Pathology Conference
    • Greening the Healthcare Sector Forum
    • Hungry For Change, a special webinar for medical students on healthy, sustainable diets and how to talk to patients about it.
  • Held an ‘introduction to plant-based’ webinar as part of No Meat May and led a panel at the Vegan Festival Adelaide, both focused on driving awareness amongst the general public.
  • Planned to exhibit at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ GP21 Conference, however this was unfortunately cancelled due to Covid-19.

Nutrition resources

in 2021 we:

  • Continued to share our nutrition and health toolkit. This year 77% of survey respondents who have used these educational resources with their patients reported an increase in the frequency with which they discuss plant-based nutrition, and 71% feel more confident to do so.
  • Collaborated with plant-based experts to provide 60 recipes with no added oil, very low to no added sodium, and no refined sweeteners. In less than 6 months they have been accessed by 20,000 people. The corresponding dietitian-designed meal plan and shopping list has been downloaded 1,000+ times. Our new eCookbook has been downloaded 350 times in just 5 weeks.

      My husband and I used the meal plan and shopping list to begin our whole food plant-based eating. It made the transition much easier and we found all the recipes to be very delicious.

2021 End of Year Recipe Stats

Health policy, guidelines and advocacy

in 2021 we:

  • Leveraged the opportunity to participate in the Australian Dietary Guidelines review, commencing with the NHMRC scoping survey.
  • Continued to focus on the importance of the guidelines review by hosting an Independent Food Systems Dialogue. We assembled a group of experts from our region and beyond. They concluded that Australian diets need to significantly increase plant-based and minimally processed foods, with corresponding reductions in animal-sourced and highly processed foods. The detailed feedback from our event was submitted to the United Nations for consideration as part of September’s United Nations Food Systems Summit.
  • Provided input into a number of Department of Health, United Nations and World Health Organisation documents as part of their consultation process:
    • National Preventative Health Strategy
    • UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-2025
    • WHO fat intake guidelines
    • National Obesity Strategy
  • Senate inquiry on food labelling
  • Added our voice to a number of global and national campaigns, calling for an urgent shift to plant-based diets to combat climate change:
    • ProVeg Diet Change campaign
    • Healthy Climate Prescription
    • Plant-based Treaty
    • Open Letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for more ambitious action on climate change to protect health
DFN Team
Some of the DFN team throughout 2021.

What’s coming up in 2022?

Next year we will continue to educate, equip and empower healthcare professionals and their patients about the life-saving benefits of whole food plant-based nutrition.

With your support, we will expand our educational programs, offering webinars, workshops and CPD accredited learning and development courses specifically for healthcare professionals.

Our website will be relaunched to provide a more user-friendly experience for healthcare professionals and their patients, including a searchable database of plant-friendly practitioners.

As the Australian Dietary Guidelines review progresses, we will continue to call for the new guidelines to place a much stronger emphasis on the health benefits of plant-based eating patterns and the risks associated with meat-heavy diets.

Acknowledging the rise in people transitioning to a more plant-focused diet, we look forward to sharing new resources to support this shift.

Already underway is a research project to demonstrate the affordability of a whole food plant-based diet compared to a typical Australian diet, and the significant environmental benefits via emissions modelling. We expect to publish our findings in 2022.

Alongside these projects we’ll be continuing to strengthen and grow alliances with other organisations, and seek impactful opportunities to gain traction for our messages about whole food plant-based nutrition for health—human health and planetary health.

From all of us at DFN, thank you for accompanying us on our mission. Here’s to a year ahead filled with action towards health and well-being, both now and into the future.

If you’d like to get involved in supporting our work you can find out more now.

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