Team Blog > Shireen Kassam


Shireen is a Consultant Haematologist and Honorary Senior Lecturer at King’s College Hospital, London with a specialist interest in the treatment of patients with lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system). She is also passionate about promoting plant-based nutrition for the prevention and reversal of chronic diseases and for maintaining optimal health after treatment for cancer.

She qualified as a medical doctor in 2000, initially training in general medicine, and gaining Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP; 2003). She then specialised in Haematology and achieved Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath; 2008). During training, she took time out to undertake a PhD (University of London, 2011). Her research investigated the role of selenium, an essential micronutrient, in sensitising cancer cells to chemotherapy. She was able to show that supra-nutritional doses of selenium could enhance the action of chemotherapy in the laboratory. She has published a number of peer-reviewed papers in the field of lymphoma.

Shireen discovered the power of nutrition for the prevention and treatment of disease in 2013 and since then has been following a whole food plant-based diet. She has immersed herself in the science of nutrition and health, reading scientific papers and books, attending nutrition conferences and completing recognised continuing professional development activities to keep up to date in the field. She has completed the eCornell certification in plant-based nutrition and in 2019 she became certified as a Lifestyle Medicine Physician by the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine. With her medical and scientific training, Shireen is uniquely placed to interpret nutritional data and incorporate the latest findings into daily medical practice.

Shireen founded Plant-based health professionals UK in 2017. Since then she has been appointed as Visiting Professor of Plant-Based Nutrition at Winchester University with the aim of producing high quality educational material and courses. In 2019 she became certified as a Lifestyle Medicine Physician by the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine and is also a certified CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) practitioner. She is also a member of the Research Advisory Committee for the Vegan Society. Her work has been published by The Times, Mirror, Metro, Plant Based News and BBC food.

I came to lifestyle medicine through my decision to adopt a vegan diet and lifestyle for ethical reasons. This transition was made with both my sisters and eventually my parents and husband as well. Whilst researching the best way to adopt a healthy vegan or plant-based diet, I came across a wealth of scientific information on how this way of eating was associated with some of the lowest rates of chronic disease and could support individuals to live longer, healthier lives. I was pretty stunned to learn this new information given that at this point, in 2013, I had been a practicing doctor for 13 years.

I spent a good 5 years educating myself on the science behind diet and health. During this period of study, I came across the broader field of lifestyle medicine that incorporates a plant-based diet along with after healthy habit to address the root cause of chronic disease.

On discovery of this new speciality I was hooked. I decided that I had to find a way to incorporate my learning into clinical practice, given how successful lifestyle medicine approaches were. I do my best to do this in my NHS practice where I look after patients with lymphoma. My patients are all very happy to discuss diet and lifestyle with me and are very open to give these healthy habits a try. It provides them with actionable steps they can take to improve their health and many find empowering. Any small steps they can take will be worth it in the longer run.

Through Plant Based Health Online, the intention is to make lifestyle medicine accessible to those who are looking to improve their health in a more holistic way. This may also involve the use of pharmaceutical medications but often times it is possible to avoid medications for common conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

Outside of my conventional medical work I enjoy making information on plant-based diets accessible and easy to understand. I do this through my non-profit organisation Plant-Based Health Professionals UK. I also write a weekly blog and have published my first book, Eating Plant-Based, co-authored with my sister. I am also increasingly anxious about the climate and ecological crises and support climate active groups to adopt a healthy plant-based diet, given the well-established co-benefits for planetary health.

In my spare time I try to incorporate health habits into my own life. I love walking with my two dogs, discovering new recipes, taking regular trips to the Isle of Wight and treasure time with my family.

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