Editorial: The End of “Dog Lab,” the Beginning of a New Kind of Medicine
The past year saw several important steps forward. The number of medical schools using animal laboratories has fallen from more than 100 when we began 20 years ago, to 25 in 2005, to about 15 last year at this time, and to just 10 today. The latest to end these cruel exercises were Washington University, New York Medical College, Saint Louis University, Stony Brook University, Duke University, and Texas A&M.
As of late last year, dogs are no longer used in medical education at any U.S. school. And we are pushing hard on those 10 remaining schools to end their use of other species—pigs, ferrets, and others—in medical coursework. Not only can the animals breathe easier, but the students can, too. No one will ask them to choose between their ethics and their careers.
Our work to change medical practice reached a new milestone with our continuing medical education programs. On November 8 in San Antonio, we held the first of our regional programs on the use of vegan diets for diabetes, and had a huge crowd of doctors, dietitians, and other health care professionals eager to learn about the new dietary approach. We held similar events in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Bethesda, Md.; and Atlanta, all with packed houses. These, along with our other events, bring in health care providers because we offer exactly what they need: breakthrough information, continuing education credits, and a good, healthy meal!
Over the past year, we have heard from an enormous number of people whose lives were dramatically changed after learning about the vegan approach from our lectures, our books, or our new webcasts.
In response to PCRM’s petition, the Federal Trade Commission pulled the plug on advertisements claiming that dairy products promote weight loss. Meanwhile, we are in court against McDonald’s, Outback, and other chain restaurants, after our tests showed their grilled chicken products contain significant levels of carcinogens.
Our battle to reform the Farm Bill received unprecedented coverage for a topic that had merited barely a yawn in years past. Suddenly, the press and the public realized that a big reason that cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizza are everywhere—and that our kids are getting fatter day by day—is that our government subsidizes these products and pushes them on schools. It will take years to overcome the political clout of the meat, dairy, and junk food industries, but we are quickly gaining ground.
Of all the virtues we aim to maintain in our work—integrity, vision, thoroughness—among the most important is impatience. Whether we are confronting cruelties in laboratories or an ever-growing epidemic of diet-related diseases spreading across the globe, there is no time to waste.
Neal D. Barnard, M.D.
President of PCRM