Report from the 5th International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference

Last week I had the enormous privilege and pleasure of attending the 5th International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference in Anaheim, California.

It was my 4th time attending this conference, which has grown from 400 attendees the first time I attended in 2014, when it was held in San Diego, to close to 1000 this year. Most attendees are medical doctors, with nurses, dietitians, health coaches, personal trainers and psychologists also well-represented.

(Sadly, few naturopaths attend this conference; as in previous years, I did not encounter a single naturopath in the entire 4 days of the event.)

The contrast between the PBNHC and the annual conference of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine, at which I presented two weeks ago, could not have been greater.

For starters, there were no manufacturers of olive oil or vitamin pills among the sponsors of the PBNHC! And for seconds, the link between animal agriculture and the environmental catastrophes that we’re currently facing was unequivocally on the agenda, perhaps unsurprisingly given the recent devastation unleashed on the southeastern states by a series of hurricanes.

Then there’s the general atmosphere of the PBNHC. Several speakers commented that it’s their favourite out of all the professional conferences they attend. Dr Scott Stoll, co-founder of the event, summed it all up in his closing address, when he remarked that hugging is not something you see very often at medical conferences… but hugging is the order of the day at this one!

And finally, of course, every speaker bar one (Dr Robert Lustig, leader of the ‘sugar is the cause of every malady known to humankind and saturated fat is good for you’ brigade), promoted a wholefood plant-based diet as the foundation of good health, whether you are currently well and wish to maintain your physical and mental function well into old age, or whether you would like to turn your poor health around and restore your vitality.

And they had the science to back it up, unlike Dr Lustig, whose biased presentation was torn to shreds by subsequent speakers who presented the data that he’d conveniently omitted from the studies he cited. Study after study – from laboratory to epidemiological (population-based) to clinical intervention trials – demonstrates that human physiology is ideally suited to a diet which draw most or all of its energy from minimally refined plant foods.

There were so many highlights that I couldn’t possibly sum them up in one short report (which I’m firing off from Auckland, where I’m enjoying some down-time with my family after a very hectic year!), so I’ll be spending the next several blog posts updating you on what I learned.

In the mean time, here are a couple of happy snaps from the conference:

Brenda Davis is probably my favourite vegan dietitian of all time. She’s strong on the science of plant-based eating, but also emphasises the positive impact we can make on the lives on animals, and on the environment, when we take them off our plates and eat plants instead.


Cardiologist Joel Kahn delivered an incisive presentation on the definitive link between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease.


Hans Diehl is one of the pioneers of lifestyle medicine, having developed the world-renowned CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) and successfully implemented it in settings all over the world – including right here in Australia. He’s also an all-round nice guy and loads of fun :).


Dr Milton Mills’ detailed presentations on the anatomical differences between meat-eaters and plant-eaters, which clearly illustrate the diet to which humans are best-suited, have always fascinated me. I was so pleased to spot him in the hotel lobby and couldn’t resist grabbing  a photo op.


I was chuffed to see buff-but-sweet vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke in the gym for an early-morning workout, so I took the opportunity to bail him up for a photo later on :).

Both my private clients and members of my health and nutrition education program, EmpowerEd, will be benefitting from the pearls of wisdom I collected from the best and brightest minds in plant-based nutrition. Apply for a Roadmap to Optimal Health Consultation or sign up for your free 1-month trial of EmpowerEd today!

Leave your comments below:


  • Tina Holdgate

    Reply Reply October 2, 2017

    Hi Robyn, it was good to hear that you enjoyed the Conference, and look forward to reading anything ‘new’ and amazing that you learnt (that you didn’t already know!).

    Maybe Australia is just lagging behind in the ‘natural health’ areas. Luckily we have you to keep us posted for those who can’t get to these overseas things.

    Thank you!!

    • Robyn Chuter

      Reply Reply October 2, 2017

      Unfortunately we really are lagging behind in Australia. The plant-based health movement feels like it’s reaching critical mass in the US, with hospitals and healthcare networks like Kaiser Permanente embracing it as the most cost-effective means to tackle chronic illness and obesity.

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