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“National Health Stories: Tales from the front line”: Interview with Co-Author Dr. Ishani Rao (vegan), Part 2 of 2

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Dr. Ishani Rao (vegan) is a British National Health Service (NHS) general practitioner and emergency medic moving into humanitarian and conservation medicine. “We know that infections such as SARS, MERS, HIV, Ebola, H5N1, H1N1 – that’s swine flu, bird flu – these were all caused because of the way that we are treating and eating animals. The UN, the WHO, Oxford University, The Lancet, science forums, the World Economic Forum, all of these different organizations are saying that we need to reduce our reliance on the animal agriculture industry. We need to be transitioning to a plant-based diet.”

Dr. Rao explains how vegan diets can provide us with protection against severe COVID-19. “And I read two studies, which were quite big studies. One of them was about 5,000 healthcare professionals who contracted COVID, and it stratified them into people that were following a vegan diet and people that weren’t. The ones that were following a vegan diet, the severity of COVID was reduced.” “We know, as medical professionals and as GPs, that there is so much preventable disease. We see all the time, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain. And all of these can be massively reduced by advocating, and by choosing, a vegan diet.”

In October 2023, an open letter was released on behalf of more than three million health professionals worldwide, urging “world leaders to take urgent action to safeguard the health of global populations from the climate crisis.” “Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of carbon emissions, and this is something that is completely preventable. And I do think that climate change is a big threat. I’ve already worked in refugee camps for the last five years, and I’ve seen people who have had to leave their homes because of climate change. But on a global healthcare scale, this is a massive threat that we might not be able to mitigate unless we make big changes.”
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