Behind the Scenes with Plant Based Health Online

Following a cancer diagnosis, Dr Laura Freeman found overwhelming evidence that a plant-based diet reduced a person’s cancer risk, could treat high cholesterol and reverse type 2 diabetes.

Lisa talks to Laura about how this revelation led to her transition from being a GP to setting up Plant Based Health Online.

Your own vegan journey began when you were diagnosed with cancer. How did such a huge life-changing moment lead to you investigate plant-based eating?

I was 12 weeks pregnant with my second child, Sadie, when a routine check-up uncovered a lump in my neck and I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. After Sadie was born I had an operation to have the tumour removed and thankfully the surgeon found that it had not spread. Despite having a healthy weight and active lifestyle, my blood tests before the surgery showed my cholesterol levels were double what they should be. This made me question my diet at the time as well as the advice I’d been giving my patients.  I launched myself into the scientific research which linked the benefits of a whole food plant based diet with cancer risk reduction, treating high cholesterol and so many other health benefits. The evidence was overwhelming, showing a diet centred on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds as the optimal choice for health and wellbeing.

Traditional advice for medical professionals still promotes animal products for nutrition. How big a dilemma was this for you working as a vegan GP?

In many ways it was easy. The scientific evidence is so compelling that I felt confident in using a plant based approach with my patients. And it did not take long for me to see their successes. For example, I quickly saw patients who were able to reduce their blood pressure, reduce their sugar levels and come off certain diabetic medications and many reported improved energy levels and mood. I also knew that my approach was backed by national and international guidelines which recommend plant based diets for prevention of heart disease, cancer and the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

At the same time, there are still many misconceptions around a plant based diet but I am always eager to spend extra time to discuss these with my patients and highlight the health benefits of a whole food plant based diet. Evidence based dietary recommendations are a vital part of optimal patient care and I have found most people are very open to hearing about their food choices and how they impact their health.

There is mounting evidence that plant-based diets can play a major part in reversing a wide range of medical conditions. How far away are we from doctors prescribing veganism?

A whole food plant based diet has been shown to reverse type 2 diabetes and prevent many other common chronic conditions such as heart disease, certain cancers (especially breast, colon and prostate), Alzheimers and many autoimmune diseases. Plant based diets are also helpful to treat established illnesses alongside conventional medical treatments. However, doctors do not receive adequate training in nutrition and many do not feel confident tackling the subject with their patients. Nevertheless, I do hope that many healthcare professionals will recognise their responsibility to help educate our patients about the link between our food choices, our physical health as well as the health of our planet. It has never been so important for us to deliver an evidence based message which offers a more sustainable, ethical approach to healthcare.

You’re now the Medical Director of the newly launched Plant Based Health Online. What have you found most difficult going from GP to now heading up your own vegan business?

Twenty years of medical training taught me how to adapt to new situations, deal with uncertainty and work within a team – but this new project has stretched me far out of my comfort zone! The most difficult part of the process has been the steep learning curve around PR and marketing and how important that is in making a business successful. Until now, I have not had to worry about where my patients come from – there has always been a limitless supply! I was really glad to find, and very much enjoyed, a crash course in digital marketing run by the Vegan Business Tribe.


How did you know that there was a demand for online plant-based healthcare?

When the pandemic began, I had to move all my patients online and I was pleasantly surprised by how successful online consultations were as well as how patients enjoyed them. They are both convenient and easy, safe and effective. At the same time, my friend, colleague and co-founder Dr Shireen Kassam received many inquiries for plant based doctors and allied health care professionals through Plant Based Health Care Professionals UK.

"A whole food plant based diet has been shown to reverse type 2 diabetes and prevent many other common chronic conditions such as heart disease, certain cancers (especially breast, colon and prostate), Alzheimers and many autoimmune diseases."

Have you found that launching a vegan business has supercharged your personal vegan mission?

It most certainly has!  Whilst I advocate for a whole-food plant-based diet for my patients for health reasons, there is an important overlap with planetary health. And by encouraging our patients to avoid the consumption of animal products, we also advocate for a more compassionate society. By launching a vegan business I’ve been able to align my personal and professional values – practising in a way that is most up-to-date and will do least harm to people, animals and the planet.

What advice would you have for someone who is thinking of starting a new vegan business?

Always come back to the bigger picture of what you are trying to achieve. And reach out to fellow vegans – I’ve been blown away by the genuine support, encouragement and enthusiasm they have offered and for that, I am truly grateful.

Learn more about Dr Laura Freeman and Plant Based Health Online at:

Lisa Fox says:

Laura stretched herself outside her comfort zone to gain the business skills she needed and discovered a winning formula: a passion for veganism matched with tenacity for learning new skills equals a great start to a new vegan business venture.

Please add your own comment:

Ready to join your tribe?

Have a question about joining?

Sign up to get full access to...

An amazing community of vegan business owners

Meet more ethical vegan business owners and link up with other people on the same mission.

Learn in the Vegan Business Academy

Online courses, articles, resources and masterclasses to help you grow a successful vegan business.

Regular online networking meet-ups on Zoom

Promote your business, find new contacts and maybe even make some new friends along the way!

Get support in our Community Hub

Ask our community a question or get direct direct-message support from our vegan business experts.

Your listing in our vegan business directory

Manage your own searchable listing in our publically-voewable directory of vegan businesses.

Join small-group business clinics

Got a problem or need some feedback on an idea? Drop into a live business clinic to get support.

Member-only programmes and opportunities

Access to member-only programmes, special offers and other promotional opportunities!

New member welcome session

Tell us all about your business (or idea!) in a small-group new member welcome session with David & Lisa.

Subscribe to our weekly email!

Join our mailing list to receive free content, podcast episodes, offers and invites to exclusive events!  Unsubscribe at any time in a couple of clicks.