PCRM: Thousands of Doctors Taking a Stand to Advocate for Animals and People
Read Kinder Beauty's exclusive interview with PCRM.
In 1985, a young physician who had been working in public health, Neal Barnard, M.D., moved to Washington, D.C. in order to advocate for a more rational and humane approach to medicine. The “think tank” of approximately 20 people that he had envisioned has now grown to include more than 12,000 doctor members. These medical professionals engage in research and speak out on a variety of science-related issues, from cruelty-free alternatives to animal testing to the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Barnard’s research has contributed to the acceptance of plant-based diets in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and in 2016 he founded the Barnard Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Kinder Beauty had the chance to check-in with the organization’s vice president of legal affairs, Mark Kennedy, Esq..
Kinder Beauty: What is the mission of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine?
Mark Kennedy, Esq.: The Physicians Committee conducts clinical research to discover the most healthful foods to prevent and reverse common diet-related conditions like diabetes. We publish the research in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Based on its own and others’ scientific findings, Physicians Committee recommends a plant-based diet. Physicians Committee also recommends human-centered testing and research methods like organs-on-chips.
KB: How have you worked with PCRM to effect positive change for humans and animals?
MK: Physicians Committee is focused on human health. As part of the Physicians Committee’s legal department, I draft lawsuits, petitions, and regulatory comments that promote plant-based diets and human-centered alternatives to the use of animals in medical research and education. Physicians Committee has halted ineffective experiments with animals and false advertising campaigns promoting dairy and chicken products.
KB: What are PCRM's current projects and campaigns?
MK: We are conducting clinical research studies on the health benefits of a plant-based diet; continuing our campaign to end the use of live animals in surgery training; running innovative online nutrition programs like “Fight COVID-19 With Food;” lobbying for healthful, plant-based meals in schools and hospitals; and sponsoring a Florida lawsuit challenging the National School Lunch Program’s milk requirement.
KB: Does eating a plant-based diet have any surprising health benefits?
MK: Studies show that a plant-based diet fights obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and dementia, to name a few diseases. We now know that a worldwide shift to a plant-based diet will significantly reduce greenhouse gases caused by food production, thereby benefiting everyone’s health.
KB: What are PCRM's greatest achievements to date? And what can we expect from the organization in the future?
MK: The Physicians Committee eliminated the “meat” group in federal nutrition policy, put plant-based diets front and center in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, carried out human clinical research studies that have revolutionized the treatment of diabetes and other health problems, and provided the scientific data that has helped foster major reductions in meat and dairy consumption in the United States. We brought about the end of the use of animals in medical school training throughout the United States and Canada, were instrumental in ending the use of chimpanzees in medical research, revolutionized chemical testing legislation to favor non-animal methods, and stopped many ineffective animal experiments. We will continue our work in all of these areas.
KW: What keeps you inspired to do the work that you're doing?
MK: A sense of urgency. Plant-based diets are becoming increasingly popular and even major meat companies like Tyson Foods are creating plant-based protein products—these positive trends need to be encouraged and Physicians Committee’s science-based approach is very persuasive and effective.