Q & A with Vegan Dietitian Ebony McCorkell – Benefits Of Vegan Diet.
I sat down with dietitian extraordinaire Ebony to get her take on the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and tips for how to adopt a vegan lifestyle.
Here’s a little bit about Ebony in her own words.
I am a passionate foodie and cook. Prior to becoming a dietitian I studied Patisserie, learning the arts of pastry, breadmaking, confectionary, and even dabbled in chocolatiering. This course of study helped me to really appreciate the importance of food from a social and pleasure lens.
I carry this knowledge with me in my practice today. Aside from food I love the beach, swimming, snokeling, and the occasional scuba dive; my cat, Jibbles; and video games, I’m getting well into VR at the moment.
1 : How long have you been vegan?
I have been vegan for about 5 years but I’ve not eaten meat since I was in grade 4.
2 : What’s the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist ?
This is a tricky question to answer because there’s so much nuance to it. In Australia Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) is a title protected by law.
Anyone who claims to be an APD needs to be registered with the Dietitians Association and is required to have completed a higher degree, at least a 4 year bachelor, usually a 3 year bachelor + a 2 year masters.
APDs are the only nutrition professionals qualified to give Medical Nutrition Therapy, in other words, we’re the only ones who can apply nutrition to treat diet-related disease. We’re also the only ones who can get Medicare rebates for this reason.
Neither ‘dietitian’ nor ‘nutritionist’ is a protected term in Australia, however, ‘nutritionist’ is much more widely used for unqualified individuals.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who have done 4 week courses will call themselves ‘nutritionists’ and claim they’re qualified to provide advanced dietary advice when they absolutely are not.
Some of these courses may teach an individual how to read and apply our national dietary guidelines – the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (which can be found online at www.eatforhealth.gov.au) but they do not in any way shape or form allow someone to give advice on macros, special diets (including vegan diets), or advise on any health conditions. With all that being said, there are nutritionists who do complete substantial training, including 3-year bachelor’s degrees.
They are still not qualified in Medical Nutrition Therapy but can be amazing in public health nutrition, general nutrition, and coaching. Always check the qualification of who you’re going to. If you have an illness or ailment or need to adhere to a special diet then a dietitian is who you want.
3 : What’s your best advice for long term weight loss or a healthy lifestyle ?
My best advice for a long-term healthy lifestyle is to stop pursuing weight loss. That’s right! The pursuit of weight loss is the #1 derailer of the pursuit of health in my experience.
I have seen far too often that clients come in wanting weight loss, making amazing healthy changes, feel better, then quit their healthy changes because their weight didn’t change and I have to plead with them to understand how their health did change and it would be such a shame to lose all that health just because their weight is stable (especially because weight stability is shown to be very healthy!).
The fact is that weight changes are an outcome that may or may not occur, and it is our behaviours that impact our health. I encourage my clients to change their behaviours, in a tailored way like eating more fruit or vegetables, eating more regularly, finding what foods trigger their condition etc while searching for other meaningful outcomes like lower blood pressure (if they have high blood pressure), better control of blood sugars (if they have diabetes), waking up with more energy, improvement in iron status, going to the toilet easier, having more energy when they play with their kids, smashing their personal bests in the gym or at their sport, embracing their body after years of negative self-talk, being able to eat freely with family etc.
All of these outcomes have a real-life impact and when we broaden the focus to look at health more holistically it’s much easier to see the impact that a good diet can have.
4 : What are the benefits of a vegan lifestyle?
Any way of eating that seeks to include more plant foods is great for a person’s health.
Plant-based diets are associated with lower instance of heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers.
The mechanisms behind this are vast and some of them we probably don’t even know yet.
We know that plant-based diets are lower in saturated fat, higher in fibre (supporting a diverse microbiome), higher in complex carbohydrates, and very rich in antioxidants and polyphenols which all contribute to this.
You don’t have to be fully vegan to experience the benefits of a plant-based diet though. The biggest benefit of a vegan lifestyle is how many animals you save.
5 : What are your tips for people who want to adopt a vegan lifestyle?
- Supplement b12
- You do have to include protein foods like beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh etc. You won’t automatically get enough protein if you eat enough calories.
- See a dietitian to start you off. It honestly will help.
How people can contact you : email, social media, website.