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  2. Jun 25, 2024

Educating Millions in China About Lifesaving Plant-Based Nutrition

Educating Millions in China About Lifesaving Plant-Based Nutrition

Meat consumption has soared in China, while grain consumption has plummeted, causing epidemics of heart disease and other diet-related disease. But the Physicians Committee’s Mei-Chun Lai, PhD, and Jai Xu, PhD, are educating millions of people in China about the power of a plant-based diet to improve their health.

In the past 30 years, meat consumption has increased by 30% in many parts of China, while grain consumption has decreased by about 35%, playing a significant role in the more than 300 million people who have heart disease. At the same time, “rates of type 2 diabetes in China have exploded in the last couple of decades” to about 110 million people, according to the World Health Organization.

Dr. Lai manages the Physicians Committee’s online presence in China, including the Vegan Kickstart app on WeChat, which is similar to WhatsApp.

“This year, we held a Kickstart event starting on Earth Day, April 22, and about 15,000 people participated. Over 21 days, we had daily live streaming shows like cooking tutorials, success stories, and nutrition classes,” says Dr. Lai.

The participants also received support from the Kickstart community, including participants from previous Kickstart events who are now volunteers.

“They are very helpful, sharing their success stories to encourage new participants and answering common questions,” adds Dr. Lai. “Some are excellent cooks, and they shared cooking tips in the community.”

There were also daily check-in activities, where participants could show pictures of their meals and talk about their progress, including improved blood sugar levels, clear skin, and feeling healthier overall—even after just 21 days.

Dr. Lai also manages the Physicians Committee’s Weibo channel, a social media platform similar to Facebook, which had 196 million views last year. A single post about the weight loss success story of Chuck Carroll, host of The Exam Room Podcast, reached 2.8 million views alone.

This year, the Physicians Committee ranked as one of the top 50 influencers in the field of health and medicine on Weibo, which awarded the Physicians Committee with two honors: “Treasured Nutrition Expert” and “Famous Doctor's Health Collection.”

In addition to Dr. Lai’s work, Jia Xu, PhD, lectures in person throughout China. In the first five months of 2024, Dr. Xu toured 41 cities and gave more than 100 lectures to about 17,000 people, including 1,000 health care professionals.

Since he began touring a decade ago, he has given more than 1,400 lectures, traveled to more than 200 cities in China, and reached more than 220,000 people face to face.

“All of our activities are connected and designed to bring people together, cultivating behavioral change,” says Dr. Lai. “Chinese people get to understand the benefits of a vegan diet and feel so good about it that they advocate for veganism. That's how our community expands.”

The Physicians Committee's education and outreach program in China is generously funded in part by the Greenbaum Foundation.

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