Yes, they can! Numerous research studies have found that those following a plant-based diet are at a significantly lower risk for developing a number of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes (up to 75% lower risk), cardiovascular disease (up to 55% lower risk), and some cancers (up to 77% lower risk). Following a plant-based diet may also significantly lower the risk of developing diverticular disease, gallstones, gout, kidney disease, and dementia.
For those that have already developed a chronic condition, plant-based diets are an effective form of lifestyle medicine that can help to reduce symptoms and, in some cases, reverse the disease. Many high-quality research studies have shown that both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be very effectively managed and reversed through the adoption of a low-fat, plant-based diet by patients.
More information on specific conditions can be found on the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's website at pcrm.org.