Physician Profile: Ted Barnett, M.D.
Twenty-three years ago, interventional radiologist Ted Barnett, M.D., and his wife Carol switched their whole family—including two young children and one more on the way—to a vegan diet when they realized that this way of eating would improve their own health and that of the planet. The whole family continues to follow this healthy diet and is reaping the benefits.
“Our family loves food, and the delicious abundance of a vegan diet is the bonus that we get for a way of eating that’s good for our health, the animals, and the environment,” explains Dr. Barnett. “On top of that, my wife is a fabulous cook! Even though I will be 60 in July, I continue running, hiking, biking, and birding nearly every day. In the summer of 2012, I became a ‘46er’ after hiking to the top of all 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks.”
Dr. Barnett lives in Rochester, N.Y., and practices diagnostic and interventional radiology. As part of his varied practice, he uses angiography, stenting, and other methods to diagnose and treat vascular disease.
In January, Dr. Barnett testified before the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. “As someone who uses angioplasty and stents to treat blocked arteries, I have seen the havoc that the American diet plays on our vessels,” he said in his testimony. “Even though it is not in my economic self-interest, I feel that I have a duty to promote a plant-based diet to help reduce the need for my services.”
In 2009, Dr. Barnett and Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, M.D., co-authored a paper published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, presenting a case study of a previously healthy 51-year-old man who developed heart disease and erectile dysfunction after going on the high-fat Atkins Diet.
A member of the Physicians Committee since its early years, Dr. Barnett has been using the organization’s resources to encourage others to switch to a vegan diet for many years. In 2012, Dr. and Mrs. Barnett started teaching a six-week course on plant-based eating. Nearly 250 people have taken the course, including physicians, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals. They have given the course five times, and it was accredited for continuing medical education credits in 2013.
“What I do in my practice is on the cutting edge and tends to be complex, but what we recommend in the course is low-tech and simple,” explains Dr. Barnett, “and yet it can be far more beneficial than medicine for most people.”