What Happened to Dr. McDougall?

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Dr. John McDougall, MD, is a name synonymous with plant-based nutrition, medical expertise, and a lifelong commitment to improving lives through dietary intervention. He has been a best-selling author, a pioneering figure in the world of plant-based nutrition, a board-certified doctor of internal medicine, and a staunch advocate of starch-based diets. Dr. McDougall has left an indelible mark on the healthcare landscape. But what happened to Dr. McDougall that led to his retirement from clinical practice after half a century of dedicated service?

A Life Devoted to Health and Nutrition

The McDougall Program

Dr. McDougall’s journey in the field of healthcare has been nothing short of remarkable. Over the years, he has donned multiple hats, from being a physician to a best-selling author. He co-authored books, appeared in the influential documentary “Forks Over Knives,” and together with his wife, Mary, founded the renowned Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods grocery product line.

For decades, Dr. McDougall tirelessly advocated for dietary changes as a means to prevent and reverse chronic illnesses. His signature program, the McDougall Program, emphasizes a low-fat diet rich in starchy staples like rice, beans, potatoes, and corn. Through this program, he has touched countless lives and helped individuals take control of their health through nutrition and lifestyle adjustments.

A Time for Transition

However, life threw personal challenges at Dr. McDougall. His wife, Mary, underwent shoulder surgery, he experienced a significant setback by breaking his leg, and they faced the devastating loss of their home in the 2017 Santa Rosa fires. These trials prompted Dr. McDougall to reflect on his life’s work and legacy.

After careful consideration, he decided that it was time to pass the torch. Dr. McDougall trained a new staff in his program and handed over the reins to the next generation. While he has officially retired from clinical practice, he remains dedicated to the principles he has championed for years.

A Continued Legacy

Active Retirement

Dr. McDougall’s retirement doesn’t mean a quiet life on the sidelines. On the contrary, he plans to stay active and engaged in various ways. He will continue to write, lecture, and work on health- and nutrition-focused legislation and research. His passion for effecting positive change through nutrition is undiminished, and he aims to contribute to ongoing efforts to reshape the healthcare landscape.

Advocacy and Impact

Throughout his career, Dr. McDougall has been a tireless advocate for the health benefits of dietary choices. He has been involved in critical advocacy efforts, including challenging rice companies that coated their rice with asbestos-containing talc. In 2011, he authored a bill that was signed into California law, mandating nutrition education for physicians.

Dr. McDougall’s educational and research foundation has funded studies that shed light on the effects of dietary treatment for conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS). His contributions have played a role in shifting the conversation in medical circles toward the importance of nutrition in managing health.

A Personal Journey

From a Stroke Survivor to a Nutrition Pioneer

Dr. McDougall’s own journey to nutritional well-being began in adulthood. Raised on a typical American diet of “steak and eggs,” he experienced a massive stroke at the age of 18. It wasn’t until he started working as a plantation doctor in Hawaii in his 20s that he noticed the stark contrast in health between elderly immigrants, who followed traditional, rice-centric diets, and their younger generations.

Driven by curiosity and a desire for scientific validation, Dr. McDougall delved into the research of early starch advocates like Nathan Pritikin and Walter Kempner, MD. His personal experience and the scientific evidence confirmed the profound connection between diet and disease. He made a life-changing decision to shift to a plant-based, starch-rich diet, abandoning meat and dairy. This transformation not only rejuvenated his health but also inspired him to guide his patients along the same path.

Dr. McDougall’s unconventional dietary recommendations earned him a reputation as a “weird, quack-y doctor” among his colleagues. However, his dramatic weight loss and improved health were undeniable testaments to the power of his dietary approach. He firmly believes that, just as there is an ideal diet for every animal species, the McDougall Diet comes closest to the ideal diet for humans.


Dr. John McDougall’s retirement from clinical practice marks a significant milestone in his storied career. His enduring legacy as a plant-based nutrition advocate, author, and medical pioneer will continue to influence countless lives. As he transitions into this new phase of life, he remains dedicated to the causes he holds dear: promoting health, advocating for sound nutrition, and contributing to research and legislation.

For more insights and information about Dr. McDougall’s work and his ongoing contributions, visit the Crooked Beverage Co. homepage.

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