September 22, 2020
Dear First Minister,
We are grassroots leaders of an all-Wales social and support group, Plant Pod Cymru, affiliated to the global movement, PlantPure Communities.* We are committed to dramatically improving public health with evidence-based nutrition. As such, we are greatly encouraged that the Welsh Government, under the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, has adopted an obesity prevention and reduction strategy. One of your stated aims, to be achieved by 2030, is to support the development of a sustainable health and care system focused on prevention and early intervention. Diet and lifestyle are key factors in achieving this aim.
We would like to bring to your attention a cost-free solution that should be added to your larger strategy of achieving a healthier future for Wales and securing the future of the NHS. Moreover, the proposed solution would also reduce the ongoing impact of the current pandemic. A whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet has the potential power to defend against the worst effects of COVID-19 by enhancing immunity and, simultaneously, reducing comorbidity factors. We are asking you to add this nutrition strategy to your toolbox to help us recover from this pandemic and to similarly protect against its recurrence and the introduction of new viruses.
A data-driven nutrition strategy would help keep our economy open fully by reducing hospitalizations, even if the COVID-19 infection continued to spread. While consumption of a WFPB diet cannot prevent infection by the virus, it should protect against its worst effects, thereby minimizing the risks of hospitalizations and fatalities for those who do get infected.
We thank you for your leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic and stand ready to work with you in enabling Wales to embrace the tremendous potential of nutrition to fight the pandemic. As more fully described in Part 1 & Part 2 commentaries by biochemist/nutrition researcher and Cornell professor, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, mortality data shows that over 90% of the people who have died from COVID-19 suffered from pre-existing medical conditions, many of which may have been caused or exacerbated by poor quality diets. It’s worth noting that there is a proliferation of doctors and health and environmental groups committed to eating whole plant foods, who ‘stand on the shoulders’ of Dr. Campbell’s nutrition research (for instance, you may be aware of the organisation, Plant-Based Health Professionals, UK). Evidence strongly suggests that switching to a healthy plant-based diet would not only decrease chronic disease risk, and sometimes reverse these conditions, but also increase production of COVID-19 antibodies, if infected.
This is an opportunity to give hope to people in Wales who desperately want to reduce their risks. By addressing diet-related comorbidities while also strengthening immunity, a nutrition strategy would reduce strain on the NHS and thereby improve our ability to keep the economy open, even if the rate of infection grows. It will also position Wales to fight future pandemics.
We have three specific requests:
- During press briefings, continue to speak about the diet-related comorbidities (degenerative diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, hypertension) that increase COVID-19 hospitalization and fatality risk for people generally, and which disproportionately impact communities of colour and other minority or disadvantaged populations.
- Speak about the power of a whole food, plant-based diet (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts) to defend against the worst effects of COVID-19.
- Publicly pledge to eat these foods for 10 days (we will support you with a Global 10-Day Jumpstart event!), thereby encouraging others to take these crucial first steps toward healing and doing their part to keep the economy open!
The Welsh public is now looking to its government to lead it out of the pandemic, and towards a prosperous and healthy future. We call upon you today to embrace a whole food plant based nutrition strategy which science tells us would arm people against the threat of COVID-19. The positive impact on the future of our NHS and the economy as a whole would be profound and far-reaching, stretching beyond the current pandemic.
Deborah Davies, Co-leader, Plant Pod Cymru
Angela Hill, Co-leader, Plant Pod Cymru
*The PlantPure Communities (PPC) Pod Network is the backbone of a global grassroots movement of people participating in independent local groups, called “Pods” which promote the evidence-based benefits of whole food, plant-based nutrition. To date, more than 250,000 people participate in the PPC Pod Network in 31 countries. PPC is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
Contact: Angela Hill, Co-leader, Plant Pod Cymru
Deborah Davies, Co-leader, Plant Pod Cymru
Jody Kass, PPC Executive Director at Jkass@plantpurecommunities.org
cc: The Rt Hon Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health & Social Services
The Rt Hon Julie Morgan, Deputy Minister for Health & Social Services
The Rt Hon Christina Rees, MP for Neath, South Wales