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International vegetarian nutrition congress highlights plant-based nutrition

The 7th annual congress explored the theme of plant-foods for the health of people, populations and the planet.

Loma Linda University Health (LLUH) hosted the 7th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition Feb. 26-28 for a three-day event exploring the theme of plant-foods for the health of people, populations and the planet. 

More than 700 attendees, including researchers, physicians, nutritionists and scientists, met at the campus’ Drayson Center to examine the latest findings on lifestyle practices and vegetarian nutrition that can be used effectively in the treatment and prevention of chronic diseases.

Scientific presentations and panel discussions centered around recent advancements in basic science, epidemiology and clinical trials in vegetarian nutrition from around the world.

Richard Hart, MD, DrPH, president of Loma Linda University Health, welcomed the international group of attendees on opening day. “Giving nutritional advice is as old as the Bible itself, but as new as the newest tablet.” According to Hart, the study of optimum nutrition isn’t novel. “Seventh-day Adventists have been doing it for over 150 years now, and Loma Linda University Health has been studying the connections between food and health since the 1950s.”

The conference, held every five years, offers an opportunity for health professionals to learn from each other in plenary sessions, symposia, short oral and poster presentations. Over the past 30 years, the congress has become the premier scientific conference on the health effects of plant-based diets. 

“This scientific conference is not just about Nutrition and Dietetics,” said Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Nutrition, Lifestyle and Disease Prevention and chair of the event. “Among other sciences, it will integrate epidemiology, environmental sciences and education.” 

Attendees had the opportunity to obtain resources, shop and network with various exhibitors, including, Barnes and Noble, Drayson Center Office of Preventive Care, Life and Health Network, Life Long Health, Loma Linda University Nutrition Academic Programs, Loma Linda University School of Public Health, Signs Publishing, and Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetics Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

In addition to the presentations, the conference offered various interactive, social activities. These included, morning runs with university faculty and leadership; culinary demonstrations led by Chef Cory Gheen, MS, RDN, Nasira Burholder-Cooley, DrPH, RDN and Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RDN; an opening night reception featuring live entertainment; and a banquet hosted by LLU School of Public Health.

On Sunday, Feb. 25, the conference hosted a special community event — Plant Your Future — at Loma Linda University Health – San Bernardino. The pre-conference event featured a free cooking demonstration, health talks, a gardening demo and free blood pressure screenings.

The 7th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition was sponsored by the Harding-Buller Foundation of Worthington (Premier Supporter), California Walnut Commission (Nut Supporter), Atlantic Natural Foods (Platinum Sponsor), and Bronze Supporters Beso Biological Research, Inc., Full Plate Living, Heritage Health Food and Nutritarian Womens Health Study. The Allan Buller Family served as the education grant supporter. 

Visit http://www.vegetariancongress.org or updates regarding the next congress scheduled for 2023.