A Strong Voice for Children and Animals: Marge Peppercorn, M.D.
In her pediatric practice in Sudbury, Mass., Marge Peppercorn, M.D., helped many children grow into healthy young adults and even went on to care for many of her patients’ children. She is concerned about child nutrition and believes one of the best ways to combat child obesity is to provide more nutrition training for parents, teachers, and health care professionals.
“In my experience, most medical schools devote much more time to disease treatment than to disease prevention and usually offer only limited teaching of nutrition,” Dr. Peppercorn explains. “Most physicians wind up with only rudimentary knowledge of basic dietary needs and practically no knowledge at all of the relative health benefits or risks of plant- or animal-based diets unless they study it on their own.”
Dr. Peppercorn has helped with PCRM’s campaign to get more plant-based options in school lunch lines and other nutrition programs.
“Encouraging children to be more active with less time sitting in front of a TV or computer would certainly help combat obesity, but promoting a healthier and more plant-based diet is even more important,” she says.
Dr. Peppercorn has also always felt compassion for and a strong bond with animals. As a child, she rescued injured birds and turtles with her mother. In high school, she spoke out against frog dissections. But while she was getting her medical degree at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Peppercorn had to practice surgery on live dogs.
“When I went to medical school there were very few women in my class, and I always felt I had to prove myself,” Dr. Peppercorn explains. “Although I certainly expressed my objections verbally, I never had the courage to refuse to do the surgeries altogether. I’ve always regretted that and it’s made me all the more determined to do whatever I can do now to try to prevent such unnecessary suffering.”
Dr. Peppercorn has played a critical role in PCRM’s campaigns to improve medical training and research, doing media interviews and contacting research institutions. She was at the forefront of the campaign that ended NASA’s planned monkey radiation experiments.
“I found the NASA project inexcusable because the data to be obtained was so irrelevant to any human situation and the cruelty to the monkeys so completely unnecessary,” says Dr. Peppercorn.
When a friend mentioned PCRM to Dr. Peppercorn years ago, she realized its mission to promote better health and nutrition for people as well as more humane research perfectly addressed her major concerns.