Can We Safely Shift to a Plant-Based Diet? Unique University Certificate Program Shows Us How

Posted on Monday April 08, 2024

Originally published in Global Heroes.

University of Guelph offering Fully Online Part-Time Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate

Everyone knows someone who might be vegan or who is transitioning to a plant-based diet. More than ever, we are seeing plant-based products and selections on grocery store shelves and restaurant menus. And many of us are wondering if we, ourselves, could sustain this type of diet and how it could transform our lives. Unfortunately, medical professionals are limited in getting the credentials they need to safely and effectively support those in their care with the transition to a plant-based diet.

The University of Guelph has recently positioned itself as a leader in the plant-based diet movement, with the launch of its online Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate program. The courses offered are evidence-based and draw on the development and teaching expertise of leading professionals and academics in the field.

Dr. Pamela Fergusson, a registered dietician with a PhD in Nutrition, played a significant role in course curriculum and program development and is an instructor in more than one of the courses in the program. She sees immense value and potential in this unique certificate.

“For most people, it’s a good idea to gradually shift to a plant-based diet,” explains Dr. Fergusson. “It’s important to take your time to get used to different food intake while making sure you’re meeting your nutritional needs. These courses allow anyone to examine the nutritional composition of plant-based diets, whether that’s for personal or professional use.”

Dr. Jules Cormier is a medical professional, teacher, and a recent program graduate. Although his story is not unique, he shifted his family’s diet to remove beef and dairy products. The results lead to remarkable improvements in their health.

"Everyone knows that eating more fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds is healthy, but I had vastly minimized the extent to which it can impact medical conditions,” emphasizes Dr. Cormier. “Reading the high-quality science discussed in the program and learning how much plant-based diets can modify, prevent, or sometimes even reverse certain diseases was really impactful for me."

Offered at a reasonable cost ($325 per course) and time commitment, the program is offered in a flexible online format and the only university-level certificate program of its kind in Canada.

“With a four-week course format, students are able to get a lot of value in a short period of time,” says Dr. Fergusson. “In just a month, they are going to really increase their knowledge and capacity of plant-based diets. This method of course delivery is practical for busy industry professionals who want to enhance their learning, or someone who is interested in the subject for personal reasons."

Courses are open to everyone 18 years of age or older. No application process means that participants can enroll in individual courses of interest in any order. Additionally, industry professionals can earn a valuable credential by completing just seven courses to finish the certificate.

“I finally felt like I had access to the evidence-based scientific research and peer-reviewed articles that I could back up my claims with when teaching my students and working with my patients,” concludes Dr. Cormier.

The program is open, with upcoming courses starting in May, June, and July. Learn more about this important certificate on the OpenEd, University of Guelph website. Courses fill up quickly. Don’t miss out. Register today!

Don't miss our free lunchtime webinar, Green Bites: Exploring Plant-Based Nutrition for Earth Month, taking place on Thursday, April 18.