The China Study

I'm always reminded of this scene from Woody Allen's brilliant movie Sleeper when reading books like The China Study.

Allen's movie is from 1973 and it's amusing to think that 40 years ago, health food nuts, as they were called back in the day, were advocating a whole-grain, plant-based diet, just like today. The more things change, la di da, la di da.

For lack of a better descriptor, The China Study is required reading in the vegan canon. T. Colin Campbell, a professor at Cornell, has taken a landmark epidemiological study from China in the 1970, which pinpointed hotspots for various types of cancer based on a sweeping survey of 650,000 people, and in conjunction with Chinese researchers, drilled deeper into regional dietary and illness patterns.

The results as you might expect: Meat and dairy not only correlate with cancer but also with heart disease and diabetes.

The book goes on, too, to illuminate other dietary studies buried in the archives of the scientific and medical literature, which demonstrate similar results.

So now that I'm this crazy, grumpy vegan, you'd think I'd be inclined to believe the case Dr. Campbell lays out so laboriously in The China Study. But after years of writing about health and diet (and as Dr. Campbell says himself), "Nutrition represents the combined activities of countless food substances."

We don't know. Read The China Study and you'll see how primitive our understanding of nutrition really is. The odds that humans will ever have hard-and-fast proof of what and how we should ear are incredibly slim. Our bodies and the fruit and veggies we put in to them are too complex.There's no doubt that the American diet is dreadful. It makes perfect sense to stay away from diet soda, Lean Cuisines and Cool Whip. These aren't substances found in nature.

I'm tempted to buy everyone I love copies of this book (in both an annoying proselytizing way and to get their opinions on Campbell's results).

If you've read it, please discuss. Interested in how minds more scientifically sophisticated then mine might read this work.



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