The Science of Plant-Based Diets – And Why Most People Know Nothing About It
The China Study, first published in 2004, is a landmark book that established whole foods, plant-based diets as the healthiest way to eat. Authors Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his son, Thomas M. Campbell II, ignited a fierce debate with their work. On one side are the scientists, doctors, and other nutrition experts who understand the overwhelming evidence that whole foods, plant-based diets can prevent, and often reverse, most chronic diseases. The other side is diverse, including critics whose livelihood would be threatened by a massive shift in preferred diets, their friends in government, and many who are well-intentioned but see no compelling reason to question the status quo.
The book tells two compelling stories, which are inseparable. First, The China Study masterfully explains nutrition science in understandable terms. These facts demonstrate the stunning health impact of a whole foods, plant-based diet. Many lines of evidence come together to make the conclusion beyond reasonable doubt. Dr. Campbell clearly explains his own research, both in a lab setting and in 65 counties in China. Indeed, the massive China Study, which titles the book, is the greatest
on-the-ground study of human nutrition ever done. The authors also guide you through hundreds of other studies done by scientists all over the world. This research, reinforcing the China Study’s findings, further strengthens the evidence for whole foods, plant-based diets.
The science alone, however, is not the only compelling part of the book. Interwoven with this fascinating information is Dr. Campbell’s own story. He journeyed from boyhood on a farm to a researcher intent on increasing animal protein in human diets. But something got in the way, transforming the course of his life and our understanding of nutrition. That something is Dr. Campbell’s open, questioning mind. He is relentless in his pursuit both of facts and an overarching theory to explain those facts. He is not intimidated by the personal consequences of showing the dominant theories of nutrition – backed by industry, government, schools, and the medical field – are both wrong and harmful.
Dr. Campbell is courageous, honest, and far-seeing in his conclusions. At the same time, he is deeply humble. The tone of the book is restrained, as Dr. Campbell shows you, in a matter-of-fact way, how huge corporate and academic interests are united to suppress the truth about plant-based diets so they can continue to tout imaginary health benefits of animal and processed foods. No matter the personal attacks on him or the effect on his career, he never stoops to the tactics of those defending the status quo in nutrition. While most of his critics can’t even begin to match his intellectual abilities, he does not insult them. He simply tells his story and leaves
you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions.
This revised, expanded version of The China Study has the same general structure as the first edition, and includes the original material. The authors point out where they are updated information, such as the incidence and cost of various diseases, and books on “low carb” diets.
The most extensive and valuable revision is the addition of a chapter on academia, Dr. Campbell’s professional home. He relates the erosion of academic freedom, the shameful suppression of information, and the major consequences of the complicity between a few key university researchers, administrators, and their industry funders. Dr. Campbell has been reluctant to take this step, and states why he decided to do it: “I really dislike sharing with the public this “dirty laundry” of a university for which I have so much respect…But it is important to me to share enough of this information to demonstrate how academia has the power to modify science to its liking and
discredit scientific information not to their liking.”
If you have read The China Study before, it’s well worth getting this updated version and reading it again. If you have not read this book, I strongly recommend you delve into it right away. It can save your life.
If you enjoyed this article, you may want to read this post about the equally overwhelming evidence of the devastation grass fed beef brings to the planet’s climate and ecosystems.
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Post written by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet: How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy Now With Six Kinds of Whole Foods. This book outlines a whole foods, plant-based way of eating that Dr. Campbell has endorsed.