After first hearing about The China Study over two years ago, it’s one of those books that’s been in the back of my mind as an I really need to read this, but I’ll get around to it…someday…. Someday finally came and I highly regret that it took me so long.
Campbell’s book primarily focuses on a large nutrition study that took place in, well, China. The New York Times called the study “The Grand Prix of Epidemiology”. One of the things I most appreciate about this book is that Campbell does not just use his own research, but also that of numerous other studies that all lead to one conclusion: a plant-based diet is far superior for our health than one that is animal-based.
I will admit, that thesis does get a bit repetitive, but it’s highly effective. Throughout every chapter related to various diseases ranging from heart disease to cancer to diabetes to autoimmune disease, the evidence all points in the same direction, towards that of a plant-based diet. He cites numerous studies and statistics that show eating this way can not only prevent, but even counteract, the effects of the disease.
Many of the statistics compare those following a standard Western diet (high intake of meat, dairy, and processed foods) to that of developing (typically Eastern) countries (grains, fruits, and vegetables). Those eating the diet of a developing country are often significantly healthier than those consuming a Western diet. He takes this argument further to talk about people who have an ethnicity of a developing country, but later move to a Western country such as the United States. While eating the standard foods of the homeland, but then adopting that of their new country after immigration, numbers related to health, such as cholesterol, become closer to that of their new home.
So, if a plant-based diet is truly better for our healthy, why aren’t we hearing about this more? In the second half of the book, Campbell discusses a variety of factors that influence the nutritional advice we get, namely the influence of industry lobbies (beef, dairy, etc.) on the government. Money talks and the big-time lobbyists have a lot of money to talk with.
Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that people can use data and statistics to prove whatever point they want. I get that, with the whole “lies, dammed lies, and statistics” idea. I fully believe numbers get twisted around far more than we’d like to believe. But, that being said, I strongly believe that there is something positive about the ideas presented in this study.
There is a huge amount of information in this book and while I found some of it hard wrap my mind around at some points, there are a lot of valid points. At the end of the day, even if you still eat animal proteins, you really can’t argue that eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is a bad thing. I highly advocate you pick up a copy for yourself. See what you think. Personally, after reading this book, it gives me even more reason to move towards a vegan diet.