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Institute for Health and Wellness to Study Plant-Based Nutrition for Monmouth Athletes in Collaboration with Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health and Medicine

Monmouth’s athletes are turning to nature for optimal health. Belinda Anderson, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Health and Wellness, and Marilyn McNeil, Ed.D., vice president and director of athletics, announced plans to collaborate with Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health and Wellness to develop a plant-based nutrition program for Monmouth’s athletes and their coaches.

In November 2019, “Game Changers”a documentary about the benefits of plant-based diets for athletes—was screened at Monmouth, followed by a Q&A session with Jon and Tracey Stewart. Since then, there has been a substantial interest among Monmouth’s athletes to adopt plant-based nutrition, according to Kelly Briggs, the administrative director of Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health and Medicine.

According to Briggs, who is also enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Monmouth, many requests came in from athletes for information and guidance in adopting a plant-based diet. In response to this, Briggs and her team developed the idea to launch a training program for athletes and their coaches, where they could conduct a research study with Monmouth. Plans may also include filming an original documentary, chronicling the study and any reported benefits to athletes in regard to health and performance.

On Wednesday, March 4, Marissa Winters and Mary Brighton—both integrative nutritionists at Hackensack Meridian— presented research and ideas for how to develop a program for Monmouth’s athletes to McNeil, Anderson, Monmouth’s athletic coaches, and Monmouth’s campus dietician Aimee Orndorff.

Research has shown that people who eat a plant-based diet live longer and have less health issues. The movie “Game Changers” presents evidence that a plant-based diet optimally supports athletic performance.

Phase one of the project will be training Monmouth coaches who are interested in adopting a plant-based diet. Once trained, they will then support the team in training Monmouth athletes who are interested in participating. Studies will be undertaken on these training programs and their impact.