Green Right Now Reports

A plant-based diet isn’t just lighter on the planet, it helps lighten — and fortify — the human beings who follow it, according to a new study by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Vegetables at Market PROMOThe study details the outcome for GEICO employees who were put on a diet of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains.

This diet reduced their overall caloric intake, and fat and cholesterol, while increasing the fiber, beta-carotene, Vitamin C, magnesium and potassium the group was getting from foods.

At the end of four months, the volunteer participants had lost an average of 10 pounds.

“Weight loss is easy when you’re filling up with fiber,” says registered dietitian Joseph Gonzales, R.D., a study author and staff dietitian for the Physicians Committee. “And nutrition gets dramatically better.”

To facilitate the program, GEICO cafeterias offered the 142 participants vegan fare such as oatmeal, minestrone or lentil soup, veggie burgers and portobello mushroom sandwiches. (A control group, matched to the participants was allowed to eat whatever they wanted, but was offered the wellness program at the end of the trial.)

Noting that two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and half of them are considered obese, the study authors suggested that workplaces should step in to help.

“The workplace is an ideal location for nutritional interventions. It is where many individuals make dietary choices, receive health information and spend much of their day. Employers have an economic interest in employee health, particularly given that obesity is associated with increased use of sick leave and disability expenditures, reduced job productivity and increased absenteeism,” the study authors wrote.

They PCRM advocates for a plant-based, meat-free diet, arguing that it is superior for human health, more humane and climate-friendly.

Overweight People smaller

The PCRM wellness program addresses the obesity that leads to chronic diseases.

The study authors said they chose a plant-based diet for the “intervention” at GEICO, because studies have shown that “people following vegetarian and near-vegetarian diets have significantly lower prevalence of obesity  type 2 diabetes,  heart disease,  hypertension,  cancer  and gallbladder disease,  compared with non-vegetarians. In clinical trials, low-fat plant-based diets reduce body weight and blood pressure, and improve plasma lipid concentrations and glycemic control. 

The citations for all those claims are attached to the report.

The GEICO trial also featured “lunch and learn” sessions about cooking, weight loss and preventing disease with a better diet.

Dietitians maintained connections with 300 employees in offices across the country.

To find out more about the Physicians Committee’s Employee Wellness Program see