March 26, 2024 | Matt Kucinski

At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, Noah Praamsma ‘17 will give a public lecture titled: “Plant-Based Diets: Recipe for Disaster or Vitality?” in Calvin University’s Meeter Center Lecture Hall. Praamsma is a Nutrition Education Coordinator for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.

“I think it’s pretty amazing that he’s working for one of the oldest, most influential nonprofits in the sector,” said Matt Halteman, professor of philosophy at Calvin University.

Since joining the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in January of 2023, Praamsma has supported clinical diabetes research, spearheaded the development of a plant-based dietitian network, spoken and written for a variety of sources, and contributed to policy initiatives at a variety of governmental levels in and outside of Washington, DC, among other things. Prior to the public lecture, Praamsma will visit and speak to Halteman’s Peaceable Kingdom class.

An African American woman stands next to Noah Praamsma inside the Maryland State House.
Praamsma, at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, with the sponsor of a health and wellness standards bill for Maryland correctional facilities.

Where it all started

“When Matt reached out to me to speak to his class, it was a special moment,” said Praamsma, who less than a decade ago also sat in Halteman’s class as a sophomore at Calvin and heard from a dietitian guest speaker. “Sitting as a student and hearing from a plant-based dietician was a formative moment for me—it exposed me to the profession. I’m very grateful God put me in that seat.”

Up until his sophomore year, Praamsma was on a pre-med track. But as he was finishing up his prerequisite courses, he was finding that his passions weren’t aligning with the traditional medical school route. Instead, he saw his path moving toward preventative healthcare, specifically through nutrition.

In his animal ethics philosophy course, Peaceable Kingdom interim, and in a biology course on global health, environment, and sustainability, Praamsma said “food kept popping up.”

“It feels like a well-orchestrated series of events that led me to where I am,” said Praamsma.

All coming together

Praamsma appreciated the clarity these classes were providing, but was also developing convictions that would encompass his professional and personal life. Like a well-balanced diet, the layered and complimentary approach of his liberal arts education to nutrition as a career path promised fulfillment and longevity.

“Eating is something of a spiritual discipline. It’s possible to honor God at every meal by stewarding my body, the environment, and other created beings that we share the planet with,” said Praamsma. “Several formative classes at Calvin that presented these three rationales for a plant-based diet all coincided in a single semester.”

Now, nearly a decade into pursuing this passion, Praamsma admits that if his “why” behind doing this work was not so multi-faceted, “I might have burnt out pretty quickly.”

“What most impresses me about Noah is how he puts the full range of his Calvin liberal arts university training to work: he’s a scientist, but his motivation to educate the world on the benefits of plant-based nutrition is driven by philosophical and spiritual concerns about the urgent need to care better for creation on every level, from our bodies, to our fellow creatures, to our food and public health systems, to our common earthly home,” said Halteman. “He cares fervently about the individual people he serves, but he also knows that doing better for everyone will require systems-focused policy reform.”

A reporter with a notepad interviews Noah Praamsa and two of his colleagues outdoors.
Praamsma, alongside two of his colleagues, speaks to a reporter about healthy school meals outside a school district meeting in North Carolina.

Inspiring future leaders

And now Praamsma has a platform to take his depth and breadth of knowledge and share it with the world.

“I feel like I’ve been given this privilege of representing some of the leading voices in the plant-based nutrition movement,” said Praamsma. “Anywhere that I’m able to speak or write is an opportunity to present really important health information. In those moments, I always strive to carry myself in a way that lives out my conviction as a Christian and as an image bearer of Christ.”

While he’s looking forward to the public lecture on campus and to when he gets to speak to larger crowds of people, perhaps the moment he’s relishing most is what he calls a “full circle moment” for him—being able to speak to a small group of students at Calvin University, sitting where he did just a decade ago.

“It’s exciting for me to think now it’s my turn to be a representative and share a little bit about what the dietetics profession looks like and the good a person can do for others through it,” said Praamsma.

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