An Interview with the Director of the Nutrition Department at the Taiwan Adventist Hospital
The Taiwan Adventist Hospital is a church affiliated hospital established by the Seventh Day Adventists. Its mission is to pursue what God said in Genesis of the Bible, “Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed--to you it shall be for food,” which means to follow a vegetarian diet. The Taiwan Adventist Hospital, which was established in 1955, is the first vegetarian hospital.
It has been serving Formosan people for 52 years. Besides being recognized as a compassionate hospital with excellent medical skills, it is also well known for its preventive medicine and promotion of the nutritious vegetarian diet. The current Director of the Board, Father Hu, emphasizes a great deal the importance of a healthy diet. He is a very strict vegetarian and advocates a complete vegetarian diet for the whole hospital. Modern food has become more and more refined. Some people even get chronic diseases from all the refined foods. Since 1997, the Taiwan Adventist Hospital has started to promote the NEWSTART nutritional vegetarian diet, with no eggs, no dairy, no refined oils, no sugar, but with high fiber. The NEWSTART Lifestyle program has also been carried out in the 170 Adventist Hospitals across the globe.
The research of the American Adventist hospitals proves that the NEWSTART is a diet for extending life expectancy and keeping away cancer and diseases. It is no wonder that the Taiwan Adventist Hospital has won many special honors for many years during the annual healthy hospital assessment in the City of Taipei. In addition, the Director of The Chinese Federation of Dietitians' Association and many other nutritionists have highly acknowledged the positive results of the healthy diet implemented in the Taiwan Adventist Hospital.
One sunny morning, fellow practitioners from the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association’s Taipei Center visited the Taiwan Adventist Hospital. They interviewed the Director of the Nutrition Department, Qiqing Liu, who has been working for this hospital for nineteen years. She follows the NEWSTART diet and is also a very devout Christian. During the interview, Director Liu pointed out that science has proved that no matter from the viewpoint of health care or from the structure of human intestines, human beings, especially patients, should follow a vegetarian diet. Although meat contains high protein, it also contains many substances that burden human organs, which is no good for people, especially the sick.
Director Liu also told us that the food we eat has a great impact on our health. The Nutrition Department is only one of the many departments in the hospital. It has limited staff and relies on the coordination of all the medical personnel to carry out its mission. For example, front line staff such as nurses have the responsibility to explain the importance of a healthy diet to patients. Dieticians list the key points of the healthy diet at the back of the menus and introduce them when they visit patients. Not only patients, all the hospital staff need to foster a healthy diet concept. Therefore, during the new employee orientation training, the Nutrition Department gives a detailed introduction on the diet, which includes Eight Healthy Principles. The hospital provides such training classes three times a year as a part of its professional education.
Beautiful posters promoting the vegetarian diet and the correct concepts of the healthy diet, on the wall of the hospital’s cafeteria
In addition to building a vegetarian culture in the hospital, the Taiwan Adventist Hospital also holds NEWSTART Lifestyle Programs periodically in the Sanyu Health Education Center in Yuchi Township of Nantou County. During the 13-day program, there are medical doctors providing health consultations and professional dieticians introducing the principles of nutrition, and demonstrating natural ways of preparing food. It aims to let the participants experience a healthy diet and lifestyle so that they can carry on this diet when they go home. Many participants’ health condition has obvious improvements after 13 days. For example, one participant, who was a doctor, had cholesterol over 300 mg/dl before attending the program. (The normal rate should be less than 200mg/dl.) After thirteen days, his cholesterol level had returned to normal. Another diabetic participant used to take 13 pills a day in order to control the blood sugar and fat level. After the healthy diet, the medication went down to three pills instead.
According to Director Liu, many people who suffer from gout and high cholesterol have experienced improvements after they have adopted the NEWSTART diet. The great pity is that many people only realize the importance of health after they become seriously ill. At the end of our visit, Director Liu emphasized, “Health is wealth. And if we want health, we should start from establishing healthy eating habits and a good lifestyle in order to enhance our life expectancy and quality. Although physical health is important, one also needs spiritual belief to balance body and mind. One should believe in God. Trust in divine power is directly linked to physical health. It eliminates mental stress, etc.”
After the interview, Director Liu took us to the staff cafeteria for lunch. The cafeteria was very cozy with pleasant lighting. All kinds of vegetarian recipes were posted on the wall. The colorful and healthy vegetarian food in the cafeteria would make anyone’s mouth water. On every table, there was a printed copy of the Eight Healthy Principles prepared by the Nutrition Department. They are: nutrition, exercise, water, sunlight, temperance, air, rest and trust in the divine power. This information helps every guest to understand the concept and the principle of health while they are enjoying their meal.
The cafeteria is not only for the staff members, many patients and visitors also come. The healthy cuisine is well regarded by many. The cafeteria is often full and even runs out of food sometimes. Director Liu said with a smile that many people from the nearby business areas come to the cafeteria to eat or purchase the freshly baked healthy bread. At that moment, a lady who worked in a nearby company told us that she was not a strict vegetarian. But due to her regular visits to this cafeteria, she felt great, and even mosquitoes did not bite her anymore! When she learned that we were there to interview the hospital personnel and that our group promoted the vegetarian diet, she told us happily that healthy vegetarian food was good for the human body and worthy to be advocated.
The healthy cuisine is in great demand and highly regarded by the patrons.
During the lunch, Director Liu said that she lived in the United States for seven years. In 1992, the United States Department of Agriculture published the Diet Pyramid. From then on the government has been promoting healthy diets in primary and middle schools. A healthy diet needs to be established at an early age in order to prevent illnesses caused by bad diets.
After lunch, we left the hospital. We felt that we benefited a great deal that day. We sincerely hope that God will bless this hospital which takes care of the well being of people and advocates the healthy vegetarian diet. We also hope that in the near future, the healthy vegetarian diet will be adopted in every corner of the world.