Hi, I’ve already asked a question on this but would still like some more advice on the matter. I’m thinking of pursuing a career as a Registered Dietitian (RD) and things are moving forward. However, I’m still having concerns about the UK’s code of ethics overseeing Registered Dietitians. Based on this code I would have to be objective/professional when giving advice, and this could mean suggesting non-vegetarian/vegan food options (meat, fish, etc). I could imagine not being comfortable with that, unless I really see my career in an objective way. This saddens me because I’m thinking of a career in this field because I enjoy the topic of nutrition and also hope to further the vegan cause through my training and experience/expertise from being an RD. I’m thinking about this career option because I think in some way I could enjoy it, suggesting meat/fish/etc, would/could be contrary to enjoying this field???
Any help/guidance/advice would be very much appreciated. Thank you very much,
Why would you ever have to suggest meat and fish? All human dietary needs can be met by a diet free from any animal products. I don't see why you would have to ever suggest those. In fact, due to the harm that they cause, the opposite is the case. If you were being objective, you would always recommend against consuming animal products. You wouldn't want your clients suffering from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other degenerative diseases, would you? If some bureaucratic body requires you to recommend such "foods," then such a career position is simply unethical, since by taking such a position you are knowingly subjecting yourself to following unethical practices such as advising people to eat toxic substances.
I'm really interested in this, as I have been thinking recently that I would love to have a career in dietetics but the idea of maybe having to recommend to people that they should eat meat/fish/dairy has been putting me off. Even though I kind of agree with magnetic that those foods generally cause health problems etc, I do feel that there would be some circumstances where there would be no other option. For example, if you had to design a menu for a school/prison, or maybe a situation where budget is a big factor. I think for the most part you would be advising people to eat less meat/fish/dairy/eggs, and I guess it's up to you whether you think that would compensate for it. Also, another, non-vegan dietitian might not be so passionate about reducing someone's intake of these foods as you would be.
Well you could always specialize. I'm not certain, but I would imagine, much as the same that nurses and doctors can train into specialized areas then so can dieticians. You can puruse that dream, while not contradicting your own beliefs. If that isn't an option for you, then continue to research about this, maybe even speak with a dietician about your concerns. I know at least in the states (I'm studying nursing btw) that if I didn't behave in an objective manner, such as in the case of a patient asking about abortion, then I could at the very least be fired from the hospital for pushing personal agendas. That is a part of our training, in that in a field where you will meet so many different types of people, with different preferences, and cultures you have to first observe your own beliefs and decide if you can act professionally, objectively, and advocate for the patients even if we don't support their choice.
It can be a lot of fun to work on diet plans for people. Especially if you have a patient with compounded chronic illnesses such as renal failure coupled with diabetes. Consider a diet for a patient like that where you have to limit the amount of protein, calcium, and potassium due to the renal failure, while at the same time dealing with the carbohydrate limitations that come from diabetes. It can be a thinker for sure, but if you like challenges it can be a rewarding field of study.
Thank you to all who have posted so far, appreciate it.
I spoke to another Registered Dietitian recently who works professionally in the UK. She said similar comments to the previous Registered Dietitian that I saw, that I would have to act objectively and professionally, in accordance with what the academic scientific literature says regarding human nutrition.
The current literature, according to her, says including non-vegan products (like meat and fish) into the diet is better for optimised human health that pure vegan diets. Therefore I would have to handle, cook and give (not always suggest; as some patients may have to be persuaded to eat, let alone suggested) non-vegan products like meat and fish.
The Registered Dietitian I spoke to said there is a focus on following the status quo, what the science literature says you should give (irrespective of the dietitians moral beliefs) and meat/fish/etc is part of the picture. After talking about it with her I think I would get fired if I didn't handle, cook/prepare and give non-vegan products (as well as vegan products) to my patients.
However, this is the case if I were to work for the NHS. There may be other options available to me, such as being a Nutritional Therapist, were I could take a more vegan focused approach. I could also move to another country where it is less strict on such matters?
I still have some more research, reflecting and deciding to do.....
I know this a little off from what you're considering going for now but maybe hear me out?
What about a culinary arts program? You can certainly use that for something similar in what you want to do, as far as advising people, cooking food, prepping food but you can do so under your own vegan principles. Now in the course it's self you may have to do some meat prep (depending where you go they may allow for you to do meatless alternatives), but once you finish there can be plenty of options out there. Being a vegan dietary consultant, vegan catering since I'm sure vegans throw parties and get married as well XP, starting your own restaurant, etc etc. It may not be exactly what you wanted, but if food and nutrition is a passion for you then at least through something like this you're not giving up your principles.
I imagine that RD's have to follow their patients wishes in addition to medical guidelines: I can't see an RD pushing a Jew or a Muslim to eat shellfish, even if it would be great for them, but in stead would work with them to find an alternative that doesn't go against their religious beliefs. Could you not set up a private practice specialising in dietary advice for vegetarians and vegans in order to avoid having to advise people to eat animal foods? I have so often seen people on various veggie forums who were looking specifically for a veg*n, or at least veg*n friendly, dietition or nutritionist, I'd say there's a market for it!
Of course, you probably would have to give people advice that goes against your beliefs during your training, internships etc., but once you have your degree would a specialised veggie practice not be an option?
Googling found me Sandra Hood, a vegan dietician in the UK, perhaps you could get in touch with her and see if she can give you more info? http://www.optimumnutritionists.com/pages/nutritionists/sandra-hood--dietitian.php
I am a registered nurse and was working in the hospital for a while...dealing with the same trays of meat and milk platters. As a medical professional, you are kind of stuck in some quicksand, but never feel afraid to offer advice, especially with all the evidence out there. In the end it is there choice, but when there is compelling evidence (The China Study, and etc...), always make an effort to offer it...then give them their burgers and fries.
It's sad that we need evidence to promote fruits and veggies, but that is what society has come to. I left my job and sought work elsewhere, and this played a part in that decision.
Have looked for anything outside of the modern healthcare system? Something..."alternative?"
Best wishes on your journey and career search!
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Do you mean something outside the NHS (the main healthcare system)? Like a nutritional therapist?
I haven't properly looked into alternative career paths that are similar but related to a Registered Dietician (RD), that don't have this meat/fish/etc suggestion issue.
In time I may do so. A vegetarian/vegan friend said I could get a Nutrition/Dietetics qualification (needed to become a Registered Dietician) but afterwards move into a different but similar career path (i.e. not NHS/RDs). I think she's actually doing this currently.
Not sure, don't think so. Just read it. Some interesting information there and definitely answers a few questions. But being American based makes me wonder how much is the same in the UK, where I live. Definitely helped, thank you RunnerVeggie. Will re-read it and look at other parts of her website as well.