DFN's 2020 year in review and upcoming plans in 2021

2020 was an important year where, despite the challenges and disruptions that have touched every corner of the globe, we made some significant strides forward on our shared mission. Below we outline the key achievements of 2020 and preview the year ahead.

Year in review 2020

Despite the enormous collective challenges of 2020, we were privileged to be able to continue our work with focus and determination throughout the year, with our passionate community by our side at every step.


Never before has the need for healthy plant-based diets been clearer, both to address many of the diet-related chronic diseases that make people the most vulnerable to severe COVID-19 outcomes and to reduce the risk of future emerging pathogens by scaling back animal agriculture.


Alongside releasing our new nutrition and health toolkit for clinicians in 2020, we informed many thousands of people across the healthcare sector and wider community through educational events, website resources, policy submissions, mainstream and social media.


We welcomed new team members, nurtured fruitful strategic partnerships, grew our reach, particularly among our target cohorts of health professionals, and saw encouraging growth in our movement and growing awareness of the multiple benefits of plant-based dietary shift, both locally and abroad.


It was a particularly heartening moment when we learnt that DFN had won Nourish magazine’s Changemaker of the Year Award: an honour for our young charity and a testament to the growing appetite for an evidence-based 'nutrition first' approach to health.


See further details of the year's achievements in the snapshots below, and read on to discover what's in store for 2021.

– Growing our reach –

In 2020 we:

  • Built our e-list to over 3,000 subscribers, and 12,500 followers across our social channels, representing significant growth since last year (40% and 25% respectively).

  • More than tripled our website’s reach in 2020, to 70,000 unique page views.

  • Published 26 articles on our blog, with a cumulative total of >15,000 views (>14,000 unique).

  • Launched our Australasian plant-based health professionals Facebook group, which now stands at over 100 active health-professional members.

  • Reached over 1,300 video viewers this year, who together have watched 207 hours of our educational content, primarily through our Food Vitals series: read more below.

  • Achieved media coverage across a range of outlets including our first TV news story announcing our new Plant-based nutrition and health resources for health professionals.

  • Continued to contribute articles on plant-based nutrition to every issue of Nourish magazine, whose readership is continuing to expand in our region and beyond.

– Educational events –


During 2020 we hosted, co-hosted and presented at a range of events, both online and in-person where possible, aimed at a variety of professional and lay audiences. Highlights:

  • The Heart of the Matter nutrition in healthcare symposium (Adelaide)

  • The Pleasure Trap: an evening with Dr Doug Lisle (Canberra)

  • South Pacific Society of Lifestyle Medicine Conference: Turning the Tide on NCDs (Fiji)

  • Our Food Vitals webinar series (online)

  • Adelaide Vegan Festival (Adelaide)

  • Lifestyle Medicine 2020 (online)

Together, these events enabled us to reach a large number of delegates. Our Adelaide Symposium in February and Food Vitals webinar series together attracted almost 2000 registrants, of whom approximately 60% were healthcare professionals. We were also delighted to have the proceedings from the Adelaide symposium published in the International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention.

Read more about our past events here.

– Plant-based nutrition resources for health professionals –


The release of our guide for health professionals and accompanying resources was our milestone project of 2020. Developed with the expertise of our Advisory Council members, the toolkit of resources aims to educate practitioners on the fundamentals of a whole food plant-based eating pattern and its health benefits, and to assist them in promoting this dietary pattern to their patients.


Impact since the toolkit launched in September 2020:


Reach

  • >400 hard copy guides and toolkits distributed across AU and NZ.

  • >1800 digital downloads.

  • Web page aimed at health professionals viewed >3,400 times (>2,500 unique views).

  • The data we have from orders, downloads and evaluations indicate that around 70% of those who have accessed the resources are from the health sector.

Demographics

  • The health professionals most frequently accessing the resources are doctors (around 30%) of whom a majority are GPs; dietitians, nutritionists and nurses are next (10% each), with the remainder being from other health professions.

  • Of the respondents working in the health sector, 93% are in roles where they provide patients with health advice.

Feedback

  • 38% of all respondents to our evaluation questionnaire (n=84 as at 1/1/21) said the proportion of their diet coming from whole plant foods increased as a result of the resources, either significantly or slightly. This rises to 81% when those who already follow a WFPB diet are excluded.

Pie chart showing that 38% are now eating more whole plant foods as a result of the resources
Has the proportion of your diet coming from whole plant foods increased as a result of Doctors For Nutrition’s resources?

Among health professionals in patient-facing roles:

  • 92% said they will be using one or more DFN resources in their practice on an ongoing basis.

  • 95% strongly agree or agree that ‘the DFN resources have improved my confidence in discussing plant-based nutrition with patients’.

  • 74% agree that ‘the DFN resources improved my confidence in responding to patient queries about plant-based diets’.

Poster, dietary survey, guide for health professionals, shopping list and patient handout

Plant-based nutrition and health toolkit for health professionals

– Food Vitals webinar series –


This webinar series was launched alongside our Plant-based nutrition and health materials as a further free educational offering to explore the role of diet in preventing and treating specific disease processes or optimising health in different population groups.


Self-rated prior knowledge was an average of 6 on a scale of 1-10, therefore meeting a clear need to build on this knowledge.


Impact

  • Around 90% of all respondents report being inspired to eat more whole plant foods, or to keep going with changes they have already made (around 30% and 60% respectively), with only 10% saying they would not be making changes.

  • 89% of health professionals in patients-facing roles report being more willing and confident to recommend WFPB nutrition within their practice (70% of these significantly; 30% slightly).

All the webinar recordings can be accessed freely via our Food Vitals web page.

Agenda 2021

2021 holds ambitious plans for us as we seek to amplify our message about the benefits of healthy plant-based dietary patterns, with a focus on providing practical tools for health professionals and patients alike to help with their implementation.


Projects in the pipeline include: more educational events, both online and in person; new free web resources for health professionals; a forthcoming collection of whole food plant-based recipes with accompanying meal plan; preparation for our 2022 Nutrition in Healthcare Conference and, excitingly, a new transition guide to support individuals in going plant-based for their health.


We will also continue to engage with decision-makers across the spectrum of healthcare institutions to highlight the evidence for whole food plant based nutrition, with a key focus on the review of Australia’s national dietary guidelines.


Alongside these projects we'll be continuing to build our foundations, strengthen and grow alliances with other organisations, and seek impactful opportunities to gain traction for our messages about the science and practice of WFPB nutrition for 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 wellbeing through, both now and into the future.


Click here if you’d like to get involved in supporting our work.