Some see veganism or vegetarianism as dietary choices or lifestyles; others, as a calling worthy of a qualification on their CV. An Italian University is offering a postgraduate course in Vegetarian Nutrition and Dietetics, promising to equip students with a thorough understanding of plant-based eating.
Marche Polytechnic University in Ancona teamed up with Funiber, Iberoamerican University Foundation, in 2010 to launch the master’s – the only degree in vegan and vegetarian nutrition accessible in Europe. However, you don’t have to live in Italy to enrol on the course. The master’s is taught online and, as of this academic year, it is available in English, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
It’s aimed at graduates – especially doctors and nutritionists, but also biologists, scientific journalists and researchers – who wish to explore the implications and characteristics of vegan and vegetarian dietary regimens. As the number of vegan clients and patients grows, nutrition professionals are expected to successfully cater to their needs. According to the University, this “vegan master’s” allows them to do just that.
The course provides students with the medical notions required to create and prescribe a healthy and balanced vegan diet. It allows them to assess the adequacy of individual vegan or vegetarian diets. The course also focuses on the inclusion of vegan and vegetarian options in wider meal plans and within different contexts, such as restaurants, schools and hospitals.
Maurizio Battino, Biochemistry professor and head of the Vegetarian Dietetics programmes, launched the online MA course after noticing a gap in nutrition education. “Many of my colleagues are beginning to admit their knowledge is too limited when it comes to interacting with vegetarians and vegans,” Battino told Vegolosi. “It is therefore our professional and ethical duty to be adequately informed about these dietary choices.”
He added: “After all, research has shown the medical benefits of green eating, especially of low-fat vegan diets, which are useful in the treatment of obesity, hypertension, diabetes and other cardiovascular risk factors.”
The number of students looking to expand their views on veganism has steadily increased each year. With 210 students registered for the programme in the 2016-2017 academic year, the class size has noticeably grown since 2014, when the course attracted 38 students.