Have You Read The China Study?
We’ve been talking a lot about animals this week, from animal testing to vegan cappuccinos. Then this morning I came across an interview with Dr. T. Colin Campbell, one of the authors of The China Study.
Full disclosure: I only heard about this best-selling nutrition book, written by a father-son doctor duo, a few weeks ago. But since then it’s been following me everywhere: in the books and articles I read, in conversations I have, and at the Whole Foods checkout counter. Strange how that goes, isn’t it?
Needless to say, I’m intrigued. From the article:
The book focuses on the knowledge gained from the China Study, a 20-year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine that showed high consumption of animal-based foods is associated with more chronic disease, while those who ate primarily a plant-based diet were the healthiest.
Apparently, even Bill Clinton, now a most-of-the-time vegan, has cited the book in reference to his new lifestyle choice. In the interview, I really appreciate how Campbell Senior talks about food and health in a holistic way—something very important to another writing duo I know. A few highlights:
“The problem is that we study one nutrient out of context. That’s the way we did research — one vitamin at a time, one mineral, one fat. It was always in a reductionist, narrowly focused way.”
“What loomed large for me was that we shouldn’t be thinking in a linear way that A causes B. We should be thinking about how things work together. It’s a very complex biological system.”
“I don’t use the word “vegan” or “vegetarian.” I don’t like those words. People who chose to eat that way chose to because of ideological reasons. I don’t want to denigrate their reasons for doing so, but I want people to talk about plant-based nutrition and to think about these ideas in a very empirical scientific sense, and not with an ideological bent to it.
The idea is that we should be consuming whole foods. We should not be relying on the idea that genes are determinants of our health. We should not be relying on the idea that nutrient supplementation is the way to get nutrition, because it’s not. I’m talking about whole, plant-based foods. The effect it produces is broad for treatment and prevention of a wide variety of ailments, from cancer to heart disease to diabetes.”
Love that. And then, on their decision to go with a smaller publisher:
“I went to a small publisher in Texas who let us do what we wanted to do. I didn’t want to proselytize and preach. I didn’t want to write a book that says, “This is the way it has to be.” It’s a chronology. Here’s how I learned it, and let the reader decide. I say, “If you don’t believe me, just try it.” They do, and they get results. And then they tell everybody else.”
Had you heard about the book? Have you read it? The introduction is up on their site, so I’m going to start there.