Plant-based health professionals UK is a Community Interest Company dedicated to providing education and advocacy on whole food plant-based nutrition for prevention and treatment of chronic disease. In addition to practicing conventional medicine, we are passionate about promoting health and well-being using whole food plant-based nutrition. There is no doubt that conventional medicine has resulted in some astonishing advances in patient care. However, the current model of healthcare in the UK focuses primarily on treating established disease, rather than emphasising interventions that could prevent or reduce the burden of chronic disease.
We hope to provide a valuable resource for the education of healthcare professionals and the general public alike and aim to empower individuals to take control of their own health and share this information with patients, friends and their families.
Shireen Kassam MBBS, FRCPATH, PHD, DipIBLM
Founder and Director
Shireen is a Consultant Haematologist and Honorary Senior Lecturer at King’s College Hospital, London with a specialist interest in the treatment of patients with lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system). She is also passionate about promoting plant-based nutrition for the prevention and reversal of chronic diseases and for maintaining optimal health after treatment for cancer.
She qualified as a medical doctor in 2000, initially training in general medicine, and gaining Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP; 2003). She then specialised in Haematology and achieved Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath; 2008). During training, she took time out to undertake a PhD (University of London, 2011). Her research investigated the role of selenium, an essential micronutrient, in sensitising cancer cells to chemotherapy. She was able to show that supra-nutritional doses of selenium could enhance the action of chemotherapy in the laboratory. She has published a number of peer-reviewed papers in the field of lymphoma.
Shireen discovered the power of nutrition for the prevention and treatment of disease in 2013 and since then has been following a whole food plant-based diet. She has immersed herself in the science of nutrition and health and completed the eCornell certification in plant-based nutrition. In 2019 she became certified as a Lifestyle Medicine Physician by the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine. She is also a certified CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) practitioner.
Shireen founded Plant-based health professionals UK in 2017 in order to bring evidence-based education on plant-based nutrition to the UK. Since then she has been appointed as Visiting Professor of Plant-Based Nutrition at Winchester University where she has developed and facilitates the UK’s only University-based CPD-accredited course on plant-based nutrition for healthcare professionals. In January 2021, Shireen co-founded and launched the UK’s first CQC registered, online, multi-disciplinary, plant-based lifestyle medicine healthcare service, Plant Based Health Online. She is also a member of the Research Advisory Committee for the Vegan Society. Her work has been published by The Times, Mirror, Metro, Plant Based News and BBC food.
The core team
Communications and Marketing
Dr Leila Dehghan, MD, MSc (Nutr), ANutr
Leila Dehghan, MD, MSc (Nutr), ANutr, is a doctor turned plant-based nutritionist and personal trainer. She received her medical degree from the University of Vienna and worked as a doctor in the UK before quitting because of her severe migraines. Her personal experience overcoming health challenges through diet shifted her professional interests to focusing on the power of nutrition. After earning eCornell’s Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate and transitioning to a whole food plant-based diet herself, she decided to obtain a master’s degree in Clinical and Public Health Nutrition from the University College of London. As a registered associate nutritionist with a deep understanding of the relationship between diet and health, Dr. Dehghan helps others optimise their well-being, manage their weight, and prevent or recover from lifestyle diseases. You can contact her via her public Facebook page or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Patient Advocate and Graphic Designer
As a stressed, 40 year old primary school teacher, Kate succumbed to inflammatory arthritis, later diagnosed as psoriatic arthritis. It seemed like every joint in her body was inflamed and in hindsight, she realised that she had suffered a few previous undiagnosed attacks over the years, but this was the most debilitating. Everything was extremely painful if not impossible; walking, sitting, and even sleeping. She was signed off work for a year. Thankfully with medication, her condition was brought under relative control. Soon after, 13 years ago, and with support from her husband, she embarked on a vegan diet and was able to slash her medication by more than half.
Only recently has she discovered whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet, and its amazing restorative and disease preventing benefits. At last she is completely in remission and medication free.
With a new lease of life, she is an active community member, founder of Hunstanton Community Orchard, graphic designer, ceramicist and community arts provider. She loves cooking and growing vegetables and has a small business making vegan food. She is a passionate advocate of plant-based nutrition and exercise.
She is beyond thankful that there are plant-based doctors and other health professionals who are championing a WFPB diet so that other people need not go through the torture of psoriatic arthritis and other dreadful health conditions.
Twitter: KateDunbar @HunstantonTowny
Dr Laura Freeman MBChB, MRCGP, DRCOG, CCFP, Dip IBLM/BSLM
GP, Certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician and Medical Director of Plant Based Health Online
Dr Laura Freeman obtained her Medical Degree from the University of Edinburgh in 2006. She completed her vocational training in General Practice in Manchester in 2011. Between May 2012 and May 2019, after attaining full accreditation from the Medical Council of Canada, Dr Freeman ran her own Family Medicine practice in midtown Toronto, taught medical students at the University of Toronto and worked with the Medical Council of Canada as an examiner for International Medical Graduates.
Both within and outside of her General Practice, Dr Freeman has developed a strong interest for plant based nutrition and optimising health through lifestyle choices. In 2019, Dr Freeman became a diplomat of the International Board for Lifestyle Medicine and is also a certified CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) practitioner.
Her focus is putting her passion in Lifestyle Medicine into practice for her patients and watching the incredible success of their lifestyle interventions.
Dr Freeman has been commended by her colleagues and patients alike for her unwavering calm and kind demeanour, her compassion and care for her patients as well as her sound clinical knowledge, skill and judgment. Her patients have endorsed her input for optimising their diet, prescribing individualised exercise prescriptions, stress management and improving sleep habits.
Dr Laura Freeman is co-founder and medical director of Plant Based Health Online, the UK’s first CQC registered, online, multi-disciplinary plant-based lifestyle medicine healthcare service, which launched in January 2021. She was also the first UK GP to bring ‘Walk with a Doc’ walking groups to her community.
Nutrition Student Representative
I have been interested in the profound effects of nutrition on health for many years. Before switching to a plant-based diet, I had suffered from several debilitating conditions including chronic inflammation, gut disturbances and trouble sleeping. I spent a long time trying to find a solution to my health issues via the allopathic medical route. However, like many other people, I found that I was unable to recover optimum health via this route. So, I decided to use my growing passion for nutrition to try to find some answers. I read several standard texts about plant-based eating and was sure: I needed to give it a go. That was several years ago, and I have never looked back.
After achieving a real transformation in my overall health, I came to feel strongly inspired to commit to studying a degree in the subject – I aim to help others reach their full health potential in the future. A career changed beckoned! I chose the BSc Nutritional Therapy course it provides a deep understanding of the links between diet and disease. I believe in a whole-body approach when treating any ailments; if one body system struggles or fails it is unlikely that the other systems can be thriving. This degree is helping me lay the foundations for a therapeutic approach and to apply nutritional science to deal with a wide variety of conditions. My ultimate ambition is to become a nutritional therapist specialising in plant-based eating, with a focus on children.
Contact Linda at email@example.com
Sheetal Ladva Kanwar BPharm Hons
Sheetal is a registered pharmacist with a strong interest in lifestyle medicine, plant-based nutrition and holistic healthcare.
Professionally, she has a senior role in medicines information at Guy’s hospital, providing support and advice to a wide range of health professionals, patients and NHS organisations.
Sheetal passionately believes in optimising the use of lifestyle measures before, or as an alternative to, pharmacological treatments. She is a certified International Board of Lifestyle Medicine Professional, a member of the British and American Societies of Lifestyle Medicine and has completed the Winchester University course on plant-based nutrition.
A strong proponent for the convincing evidence for lifestyle medicine and plant-based nutrition, she is keen to promote its benefits to the wider public.
In her spare time, Sheetal is an accredited Indian head massage therapist, practises yoga and meditation and is reaping the rewards of lifestyle medicine within her personal life and the lives of her clients.
Medical Student Representative
Linda is a final year medical student who went plant-based in 2017. Having had very little teaching on nutrition at university, she wanted to find out whether it was a safe lifestyle change, and was surprised to discover the vast amount of evidence in favour of a whole food plant-based diet. She has not looked back since, even managing to get her family on board!
As part of her ongoing self-education on the subject, she eventually came across a UK-based organisation aligned with her values – PBHP. She has since continued to get more involved with the movement, and was a founding member of her university’s Lifestyle Medicine society.
Linda is particularly interested in anti-diet approaches to promoting healthy behaviour change and intersections of veganism and other social justice movements.
In her spare time, she enjoys bellydancing and veganising Persian and Swedish dishes. She is active on Instagram @lindadoesvegan, blogs at lindadoes.com and produces a podcast entitled ”WIDLIMS – What I Didn’t Learn in Medical School”.
Contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Miriam Martinez-Biarge, MD, PHD
Miriam works now as an Honorary Consultant Neonatologist & Research Fellow at Queen Charlotte’s and Hammersmith Hospitals. She specialises in the follow up of infants and young children who have been born prematurely, who have had neurological problems around the time of birth, or who are at risk of neurodevelopmental impairments. She also has a private practice in Spain as a neonatologist and developmental paediatrician.
Miriam became a vegetarian when she was in medical school and has been vegan for the past 6 years. Although she became a vegan for ethical reasons, she also started to study the health benefits of plant-based diets, not only for adults but for children as well. Since 2013 she has had a blog where she promotes a whole food plant-based diet and counsels parents on how to provide good vegan food for their children. She is the author of a book on vegan nutrition for babies and children.
Dr Hayley Tait, MB,ChB, MRCS, MRCGP
Hayley is an NHS GP based in Liverpool, UK and has a love for cooking and all things food. After adopting a vegan lifestyle in 2017 she explored the benefits of a whole food plant-based diet for health. She was astonished at what is not taught in medical school so researched its association with our health, with food poverty and accessibility and with the geographical differences that underpin health inequality.
Qualifying in 1995, she has worked in the NHS for 25 years (with a brief spell in Australia) first training as an orthopaedic surgeon in Edinburgh then re-training in general practice in 2005. She has always felt immense privilege in her role as a Doctor. Hayley returned to her home town of Liverpool in 2010, where she became a partner in a central practice and lives with her daughter, 2 dogs and 2 chickens.
Armed with the certificate in plant-based nutrition from Winchester University, completed in February 2020, Hayley encourages her patients to embrace the abundance of real food we have access to and has witnessed many positive benefits firsthand.
In November 2019 she wrote and published a plant-based recipe book, Health on the Hob, to make easy, quick, healthy meals accessible. As a plant-based cook she enjoys maintaining her Instagram feeds and insta-live cookalongs.
As part of spreading the plant-based message she has been able to support charities with vegan food stalls, zoom cooking classes, provision of meals for food banks, video education on nutrition and mental health, presenting on breast cancer and plant-based diet (served with delicious food included). Before events around COVID-19 dealt with our rough sleeper crisis, she cooked a weekly vegan meal for Liverpool homeless with ‘Scouse Kitchen’.
Compassionate cooking is part of preventative, lifestyle medicine as evidence shows the healthful benefits of a plant-based diet. As well as eating abundant plants, Hayley exercises regularly (PT, yoga, boxing), loves cold water swims, has a daily meditation practice, maintains positive social connections and sleeps soundly. Her hope is to ignite a passion in everyone for healthy, home-cooking as we are surrounded by accessible, convenient, heavily processed, cheap foods during an obesity crisis where deaths from diet-related diseases come top. Hayley believes we all have responsibility for our health and as a profession should lead by example.
Director of Videography
Plant-based filmmaker and music producer Jay Cox rediscovered his lust for life after a cancer diagnosis. After a tough fight and with the disease in remission, he didn’t need any more reminders how short life really is, or any more encouragement to follow his passion. He changed his diet, became totally plant-based and, with new-found energy, got back on his mountain bike. He also got his camera out again and began looking for places he could make a real difference. This reinvention of himself, his life and his purpose lead him by chance to Tarifa in Spain with endurance athlete Luke Tyburski as he embarked on an insane 2,000km solo triathlon in 12 days. The result was the Ultimate Triathlon documentary, and the revelation of Jay’s formidable natural talent.
Jay has teamed up with plant-based health professionals to help achieve their mission to promote evidence based nutrition education.
Find out more about his company at fizzeekmedia.com
Advisory team members
Dr Sue Kenneally MBBS, MRCGP, MSC (NutMed), ANutr
Sue Kenneally qualified as a GP in 2002 and is also a nutritionist, having been awarded an MSc in Nutritional Medicine in 2017. She enjoys her portfolio career which gives her the flexibility to pursue her interests in weight management, lifestyle medicine and plant-based medicine. She is director of the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine, SCOPE certified member and regional group lead of the Association for the Study of Obesity, a member of the Board of the Welsh Obesity Society, member of the ‘GPs with an Interest in Nutrition Group’ and a tutor in obesity and weight management at the University of South Wales. She is passionate about lifestyle and health, and hopes to inspire and empower her patients to transform their lives by making often simple changes.
Sue has appeared on TV numerous times and gives regular radio interviews on any subject related to lifestyle as a means of maintaining good health, and also has spoken at a number of academic/medical meetings advising other doctors and health professionals about the importance of lifestyle medicine. You can contact her via her public Facebook page Dr Sue Kenneally, or via Twitter @drsuekenneally
Marta Lewandowska MBChB
Marta works as a junior doctor. She has been interested in health promotion and disease prevention for a number of years and believes that lifestyle medicine – and a whole food plant-based diet in particular – can have a tremendous impact on people’s health.
In Summer 2018, Marta flew to Washington, DC to attend the clinical rotation at the Barnard Medical Center under the umbrella of the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine (PCRM). She was mentored by Dr James Loomis and Dr Neal Barnard, and had a chance to explore how plant-based nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are encouraged in a primary care setting.
A year later, she visited Dr Willcox’s laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she was exploring the relationship between the FOXO-3 gene and human longevity. As part of her research, she spent three weeks in Okinawa – a Blue Zone where a lot of people live to be healthy centenarians.
Marta has been following a plant-based diet since her first year at university. She first tried it to show her vegan flatmate that she couldn’t survive by eating plants only. Ironically, she found herself thrive as a vegan and the only regret she has is that she hadn’t tried it sooner.
Rosie Martin MSC
Rosie graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University as a registered dietitian in 2017 after a career as a zoologist specialising in animal behaviour research. Working in zoological parks in the UK and Australia highlighted her concerns surrounding captive animal welfare and Rosie became a full-time vegan in 2014, inspiring her whole family to follow suit.
Following her move back to the UK, she became fascinated by the science of nutrition and health and decided to re-train as a post-graduate dietitian. During her training, Rosie spent time with The Vegan Society as a volunteer dietitian, and has since been keen to pursue the plant-based area of nutrition and dietetics.
Rosie now works for the NHS in Devon as a generalist dietitian in a wide variety of areas from oncology to coeliac disease. She is particularly interested in plant-based preventative nutrition, weight management and bowel health.
Dr Alan Desmond MB BCH, FRCP
Dr Alan Desmond is a Consultant Gastroenterologist based in Devon. He studied Medicine at University College Cork, Ireland and completed his specialist training in Cork, Dublin and Oxford. Having previously published influential work on diagnostic radiation exposure in patients with digestive disorders, he has developed an interest in the dietary management of a range of digestive disorders, particularly Crohn’s disease.
Alan takes every opportunity he gets to enjoy the great outdoors, running, biking & rowing. He adheres to, and advocates for, a whole Food plant-based diet. You can find him at www.devongutclinic.com
Dr Gemma Newman MBBCH, DRCOG, DFSRH, MRCGP
Dr Gemma Newman has worked in medicine for 14 years and is the Senior Partner at a family medical practice. She studied at the University of Wales College of Medicine and has worked in many specialities as a doctor including Elderly Care, Endocrinology, Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Psychiatry, General Surgery, Urology, Vascular Surgery, Rehabilitation Medicine and General Practice. She gained additional qualifications in Gynaecology and family planning. She has a specialist interest in plant-based nutrition and gives nutrition and lifestyle advice to her patients, who have gained tremendous benefits by using the power of their plate.
As a broadcaster and writer she has been regularly featured on television, including ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky News Sunrise. She has contributed to articles for magazines including Glamour, Zest and Good Housekeeping. Her family lead a fully plant-based lifestyle, following the extensive scientific research she has done on the health benefits associated with whole food plant-based nutrition. She is regularly invited to teach other Doctors via training programmes and conferences about the benefits of plant-based nutrition. You can get in touch via Facebook Dr Gemma Newman, or follow her on Instagram @plantpowerdoctor, or gemmanewman.com.
Dr Chidi Ngwaba
Dr Chidi is an award-winning Lifestyle Doctor. Trained in Surgery, General Practice & Lifestyle Medicine at Cambridge, UCL and Johns Hopkins USA, his passion is to Reverse, Improve or Prevent many chronic illnesses including Heart disease, Cancer, Arthritis, Diabetes and many more, with his unique programme “Life Colours”. He is a Founding Board member of the European Society of Lifestyle Medicine. He has over 20 years of experience as a national and international Health and Motivational speaker including TED talks on Reversing Disease.
He was the medical editor and contributor to Europe’s most popular health magazine,Top Santé, and contributes to The Daily Express, The Daily Mail as well as TV and radio shows such as ITV’s “Good Morning Britain”, BBC, SKY News and is the resident Doctor on Premier Radio. He is the director and founder of a Lifestyle Medicine Clinic in London and founded two successful and award-winning healthy restaurants, “Plant”, in Soho, London to encourage healthy eating.
In 2016 he received a national award in leadership for his work in reversing disease. He currently advises the federal Government of Nigeria on health. His mission: “To bring Health, Healing, and Hope” to the UK and beyond.
Follow Dr Chidi on twitter or Instagram @DrChidiMD
Kate isn’t a stranger to pushing herself physically, mentally and emotionally. Graduating with a Double Masters in Mechanical Engineering from England and France, she worked in aerospace engineering and then moved to Australia owning and operating hospitality companies. In 2014, she became 2014 age-group World Champion in triathlon and returned to the UK, establishing herself as coach and consultant, specialising in Leadership and Sustainability. She volunteers for a local homeless charity, is a TEDx speaker, plant-powered and an investor. “I strive to be my best, not be the best. I aim for that to find my true potential.” Find out more about Kate on her website www.katestrong.co
International advisory board members
Dr David Jenkins OC, MD, FRSC, FRCP, FRCPC, PHD, DSC
He also served as a member of Agriculture Canada’s Science Advisory Board (2004-2009) on the future direction of Canada’s agriculture and agricultural research. He has spent much time working with the food industry to develop products for the supermarket shelf and, for example, helped to initiate Loblaw’s ‘Too Good To Be True’ and most recently their popular “Blue Menu” line of products.
His research area is the use of diet in the prevention and treatment of hyperlipidemia and diabetes. He has over 300 original publications on these and related topics. His team was the first to define and explore the concept of the glycemic index of foods and demonstrate the breadth of metabolic effects of viscous soluble fiber, including blood glucose and cholesterol lowering. His group developed the cholesterol lowering concept of the dietary portfolio that has entered guidelines in many jurisdictions (e.g. CCS, Heart UK etc.).
He believes in the therapeutic value of plant based diets and that diets have to be environmentally sustainable.
Dr Kim Allan Williams, MD, MACC, MASNC, FAHA, FESC
Prior to coming to Rush University, Dr. Williams was chairman of the division of cardiology at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, where he started the Urban Cardiology Initiative. This continued at Rush in Chicago, as he initiated the HEART Program (Helping Everyone Assess Risk Today) to screen churches and community groups for heart disease and stroke risk.
Dr. Williams has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, monographs, book chapters, editorials, and review articles. He has served on many committees and boards for the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, ASNC, ACC and ABC.
Dr. Williams received his medical degree from the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency at Emory University and overlapping fellowships in cardiology at the University of Chicago in clinical pharmacology and nuclear medicine.
Brenda Davis RD
Brenda Davis, registered dietitian, is a leader in her field and an internationally acclaimed speaker. She has worked as a public health nutritionist, clinical nutrition specialist, nutrition consultant and academic nutrition instructor. Brenda is the lead dietitian in a diabetes research project in Majuro, Marshall Islands. She is a featured speaker at nutrition, medical and health conferences throughout the world.
Brenda is co-author of nine award-winning, best-selling books – Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition (2014), Becoming Vegan: Express Edition (2013), Becoming Vegan (2000), The New Becoming Vegetarian (2003), Becoming Vegetarian (1994, 1995), Becoming Raw (2010), the Raw Food Revolution Diet (2008), Defeating Diabetes (2003) and Dairy-free and Delicious (2001). She is also a contributing author to a tenth book, The Complete Vegetarian (2009). Her books are vegetarian/vegan nutrition classics, with over 750,000 copies in print in 8 languages. Brenda has authored and co-authored several articles for peer-reviewed medical and nutrition journals and magazines.
Brenda is a past chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association. In 2007, she was inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame. Brenda lives in Kelowna British Columbia with her husband, Paul Davis. She has two grown children, Leena Markatchev and Cory Davis.