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If you’ve ever tried to cut back on or completely eliminate meat and dairy from your diet, then you probably know that it’s not always the easiest thing in the world to do. They say that old habits die hard and when it comes to the way we eat, most of us have grown up eating the same kind of food for most of our lives.

The change can be especially difficult when you want to up your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables for a healthier lifestyle rather than choose pre-packaged, plant-based meat substitutes, which can often easily substitute for meat in your favorite dishes. Really, it’s like learning how to cook all over again because, let’s face it: it’s tough to learn how to make a carrot taste as delicious as a main dish after a lifetime of it being a bland, flavorless side to meat. If you’re the only one in your family trying to eat more plants, then it can feel even more challenging. At Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fresno, California, doctors, and nurses are taking steps to help patients adopt a plant-based lifestyle free from processed foods by offering cooking classes.

Dietitian Judy Meadows told ABC30 how patients can benefit from eating more plants: “Plant-based eating is focusing on eating whole foods, which are fruits and vegetables and beans and avoiding meat and dairy products. And the research is showing it reduces inflammation and risks of chronic disease and helps you manage many chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure, cancer risk.”

In addition to introducing patients to interesting produce like jackfruit, a large, spiny tropical fruit that shreds just like pulled pork when cooked right, doctors, and nurses at the center are taking their dedication to their patients one step further by also adopting a plant-based diet.

“If I’m trying to teach my patients how to eat, I need to be doing the same thing,” said registered nurse, Tammy Bargain.

To make the switch to a whole foods plant-based diet even easier, the center also encourages its patients to take small steps through a 21-day diet. By gradually eating more 100 percent plant-based meals, Meadows says that the center has seen a dramatic difference in patients taking the class. In addition, Meadows reports, “We’re seeing stress reduction, we’re seeing weight loss, we’re seeing less sick days, healthier families at home.”

We think it’s wonderful that doctors and nurses at Kaiser are going the extra mile to help their patients lead healthier lives. Do you think more medical centers should do this?

Interested in trying more whole foods plant-based recipes? If you love to cook at home, we highly recommend checking out the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone. With over 8,000 vegan recipes (and over 10 new recipes added daily), you’re going to find something you love!

Lead image source: Elnur/Shutterstock