Meet the McDougalls

Partners in their life and purpose, the McDougalls are committed to global-healing.

John, a medical student, met Mary, a surgical nurse, in a hospital operating room in 1971. This once-in-a-lifetime cosmic collision set into motion the McDougall Program which, over the next 50 years, solved the medical problems of hundreds of thousands of people with chronic diseases; obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and GI distresses, to name some of the more common problems. Contrary to the standard practice of medicine, the McDougall Program focuses on food as therapy.

Our bodies, like our Planet, have powerful corrective forces for healing acting all of the time. Disease results when the injury, in this case, the food, outpaces the abilities to heal and stay healthy. The goal is to stop the injury. Reducing fossil fuel use has been the main effort since the 1970s. Now at the beginning of the 21st we must, among other changes, “Stop Eating the Planet to Death.”

The McDougall Diet supports health and healing by stopping the injuries caused by an uncontrolled fork and spoon. Results seen in thousands of successful patients are nothing short of miracles. Our published medical results show people lose excess body weight quickly, painlessly, and permanently. On average, weight loss of 3.1 pounds in seven days and 20 pounds maintained for a year. Ninety percent of people are able to reduce or stop medications. As a result of obvious and dramatic improvements in their health and the love of recommended foods, 85% of participants in the McDougall Program comply with the diet for at least a year.

Over their career they have built a private medical practice, two residential programs, a food company, a travel business, several popular websites and authored 13 national bestselling books.

Among their proudest accomplishments is their family of three children and seven grandchildren. The children were born in Hawaii and the grandchildren on the West Coast of the US. Dr. McDougall promised them that they will not find themselves in the future asking, “Grandpa, Grandma, why didn’t you try harder?”

The McDougalls can legitimately show empathy for victims of climate change. In October 2017, John and Mary lost all their material possessions in the Tubbs wildfires in California. One of their three children also lost their home, belongings, and vehicles in the same fires.

John and Mary have the knowledge, backgrounds, and experiences, required to lead this movement for global healing with the most powerful diet-therapy for the Planet, the McDougall Diet. Our efforts for diet and climate change began in 2006 at the same time as “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Livestock’s Long Shadow” were published. Since then, we have understood that we cannot live on a dead planet, therefore, nothing else really counts. Diet-Therapy for Planet Earth will remain the focus of John’s and Mary’s attentions for their remaining years.

Diet Therapy for Planet Earth

Learn more about Diet Therapy for Planet Earth and what you can do.

John McDougall, MD

John McDougall was born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Like most Mid-western mothers, his fed him plenty of meat and dairy, the foods she had been taught were the most nutritious – those plentiful in protein and calcium. These foods caused John many serious health problems: painful constipation, oily skin, acne, and poor endurance on the athletic field. In 1965, at age eighteen, he entered Michigan State University where he suffered a major stroke. He blames the food served at his dormitory cafeteria for the final assault on his brain.

One of John’s earliest life lessons was about honesty. His parents wisely told him, “Johnny, regardless of the troubles you face, as long as you tell the truth, all will work out for the best.” His childhood lessons have carried on into a life where he not only values truth but passionately seeks honest answers.

John and his wife, Mary, married and moved to Hawaii in 1972, where he enrolled in his first year of post-medical school training at the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu. The next year he worked as a general practitioner at the Hamakua Sugar Plantation on the Big Island. There, as a general doctor to 5,000 sugar laborers and their families, he delivered babies, signed death certificates, performed emergency brain surgery, and almost everything else required by his patients. The nearest specialist meant a 42-mile drive to Hilo, so in most cases he was the one they relied on.

Three years of experiences taking care of multi-generations of people taught him how human beings are supposed to eat. On the plantation, the elderly immigrant 1st generation remained trim, active, and medication-free into their nineties. They had no diabetes, no heart disease, no arthritis, and no cancers of the breast, prostate, or colon. He observed, their children were a little rounder and sicker. The reason: His elderly patients had immigrated from China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines, where rice and vegetables were the staples. They continued to eat the same food after migrating. The 2nd generation, their Hawaiian-born offspring, began to incorporate western foods into their ancestorial diets. By the 3rd generation, these young people had cashed in the life-sustaining starch-based diet of their grandparents for a diet rich in meat, dairy, and processed foods.

The full potential of practicing medicine based off of fixing the food (diet-therapy) became apparent only after he focused his studies on the basics of nutrition and medicine found in any good medical library. To this day, John considers reading medical journals to be “pleasure reading.” But his most informative education came from three years working with his plantation patients.

In 1976, he left the Big Island of Hawaii, returned to Honolulu, and enrolled in the John Burns School of Medicine to become a board-certified internist. After more than two years, he set up a general practice of medicine in Kailua, Hawaii. This office practice supported the financial needs of the McDougall family until 1986, when St. Helena Hospital in California’s Napa Valley asked him to set up the McDougall Program at this prestigious institute. He and his team cared for more than 3.000 people over 16 rewarding years. In May of 2002, the McDougall Program moved to an upscale resort in Santa Rosa, California. For the next 18 years, his team cared for more than 3,500 people, until the viral pandemic of 2020 changed the world (COVID-19). The McDougall Program soon became an online Telemedicine institute. This modern mode of communication has brought more success for patients than anyone had ever expected.

During his professional career John with Mary’s help has run two residential programs, developed two food production companies, a travel business, and published 13 national bestselling books (11 with Mary). His treatment successes have been documented in three studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Findings consistently show patients succeed in the a variety of time periods. In the short run, 7 days, an average weight loss of more than 3 pounds while fully satisfying their appetites was recorded; and participants experienced a 20-point reduction in cholesterol. Nearly 90% of patients reduced or stopped their medications and most now had hope for a cure. In the long run, 12 months, results showed 85% of people fully complied with the Program (the Diet), with an average weight loss of 20 to 25 pounds, 20 mg/dL cholesterol reduction, and continued enhancement in their general health. It took a half-century of hard work, and 12,000 private patients, but John changed the way people think about nutrition and medicine. He revived diet-therapy all over the planet and taught people the cure is clear: It’s the food! A traditional starch-based diet is the fix.

In his mid-seventies, John was faced with either retirement (more time to windsurf, sail boats, fly airplanes, and enjoy the family) or finding another motivating project. His mission, for the rest of his life, will be dedicated to one last patient: Mother Earth. The title of this new project is, “Diet-therapy for Planet Earth.”

You can write to John c/o

Mary McDougall

Mary McDougall started the “low-fat vegan revolution” in 1983 with the publication of our first national bestselling book, The McDougall Plan. Prior to that the cookbooks on the market were either low-fat or vegetarian. The low-fat recipes were focused on lean cuts of beef, skinned chicken, white-meat turkey, egg whites (no yolks), and skim milk-based dairy foods. These foods are unacceptable because parts of animals are included. Vegetarian cookbooks relied on the heavy use of eggs, dairy products, and vegetable oils back in the 1970s. The few vegan cookbooks available then consisted of perfectly good vegetables drowning in copious amounts of toxic oils. Four decades have passed since Mary introduced the McDougall brand of a health-supporting way of eating. Popularity of the McDougall thinking has grown; now in the 21st century “low-fat vegan” or “fat-free vegan” cooking is the focus of many websites.

Mary has been a genius in the kitchen; dedicated to good health for family and patients. Her work has been a vital extension of her husband’s, Dr. John McDougall’s, medical teachings, a Program where hundreds of thousands of people have regained their lost health and appearances. People save money too. On average a family’s food expenses are decreased by 60 percent; more, if they had been eating many of their meals out. Medical expenses, including medications, vitamin supplements, doctors’ visits, and hospitalizations are eliminated for most.
John and Mary met in 1971. Her talents and experiences as a nurse enriched her family members’ and patients’ lives. She raised 3 productive children, who then enriched her life with 7 grandchildren. Every member of the McDougall family follows a traditional (starch-based) diet, to one degree or another.
Mary has co-authored 11 of the 13 national best-selling McDougall books. Altogether (books, newsletters, mobile cookbook apps, and website), she has published more than 3000 original recipes, mostly by modifying past favorites. The public has benefited by her appearances in newsletters, TV and radio shows (including the worldwide broadcast of Lifestyle Magazine and McDougall, MD), webinars, McDougall Adventure trips, and at both the residential and Internet-based McDougall Programs (Telemedicine/Telehealth).
Enjoying a well-balanced and adventurous life, Mary became a competent IFR, twin-engine-rated airplane pilot during her middle-years, and spent many of her early years piloting an ocean-going sailboat. In her mid-seventies now (2021), she continues, with full vigor, her family and professional activities.
You can write to Mary c/o