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Dear Dietitian – Does an all-vegetable diet leave you malnourished?

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PICT Leanne McCrate Dear Dietitian
Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, CNSC

Dear Readers,

Last week, I wrote a piece on nutrition myths. There were some myths specific to cancer, one of which read:

Myth: An-all vegetable diet helps cure cancer. There was a patient in the hospital that revealed she had followed an all-veggie diet for cancer and exclaimed, “I lost 30 pounds, and it was all muscle!”  A vegetables-only diet will leave you malnourished and dissatisfied, and on no uncertain terms, will not improve a cancer diagnosis.

This drew criticism from a reader who wrote:

In what universe will a plant-based diet leave you malnourished and dissatisfied? I am shocked that you as a dietitian would think that, let alone print it in a column. Do you have any idea how many doctors espouse plant-based diets as a satisfying and nutritionally complete way of eating? I would love to see the references you used to come up with this nonsense about malnourishment and dissatisfaction in a plant-based diet.

--Steamed Vegan

Dear Steamed Vegan,

I apologize for not making myself clear. You are correct in that a plant-based diet can be fully nourishing and satisfying. My point is that insufficient protein in a vegetables-only diet (like the one the cancer patient had been on), would leave one malnourished. 

Thank you for keeping me on my toes!


Dear Dietitian

Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, CNSC, is an award-winning dietitian based in Missouri. Her mission is to educate the public on scientifically-based nutrition. Do you have a nutrition question? Email her today at