So I finished reading The China Study a few days ago, and have been completely struggling for words to give it justice on this little blog here. I have read several life-changing books in my day--books I would recommend to ANYONE--The Read-Aloud Handbook, The Total Money Makeover, lots of parenting books, fitness books, fiction books, and of course religious books. But the most life-changing NUTRITION book I've EVER read--The China Study--has already (in less than a week) caused me to COMPLETELY change the way I view food. My menu plan for this week is completely different than what I've normally planned as "healthy" meals for my family.
Why did I love this book so much? Not because it was a fun read per se...it actually felt like a textbook at times...quite boring. But it made sense of the nutritional confusion we're fed from so many sources. One day a low-carb diet is the ONLY way to be healthy, the next day we're given another diet that allows you to re-introduce carbs into your diet, which leads you to eating a typical American diet anyway. With all these fad diets, why are two thirds of adults STILL obese? And why are so many children being diagnosed with Type II diabetes?
Dr. Colin Campbell (a professor who spent 40 years in nutritional research) along with his son, Thomas Campbell give dozens and dozens of SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN reasons why diets high in animal protein are linked to "diseases of affluence" (cancer, diabetes, and heart disease). "There is enough evidence now that doctors should be discussing the option of pursuing dietary change as a potential path to cancer prevention and treatment," he writes. "There is enough evidence now that local breast cancer alliances, and prostate cancer institutions, should be discussing the possibility of providing information to Americans everywhere on how a whole foods, plant-based diet may be an incredibly effective anti-cancer medicine."
The book includes a section called The Good Nutrition Guide emphasizing 8 principles of good nutrition and health:
- Nutrition represents the combined activities of countless food substances. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
- Vitamin supplements are not a panacea for good health.
- There are no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants.
- Genes do not determine diseases on their own. Genes function only by being activated, or expressed, and nutrition plays a critical role in determining which genes, good and bad, are expressed.
- Nutrition can substantially control the adverse effects of noxious chemicals.
- The same nutrition that prevents disease in its early stages (before diagnosis) can also halt or reverse disease in its later stages (after diagnosis).
- Nutrition that is truly beneficial for one chronic disease will support health across the board.
- Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected.
One part of the book--the last section--really angered me. Campbell shows how government, science, medicine, corporations, and the media have concentrated on profits instead of health. Together they have created confusing information about nutrition and have stifled and attempted to destroy viewpoints that challenge the "status quo".
Campbell relates how he personally was almost expelled from a committee of scientists because he dared to suggest a link between diet and cancer. He writes, "In the world of nutrition and health, scientists are not free to pursue their research wherever it leads. Coming to the 'wrong conclusions,' even through first-rate science, can damage your career."
There's SO MUCH MORE I want to say, but what is my point? First, I think ALL OF YOU SHOULD READ THE CHINA STUDY to decide for yourselves what changes you will make. For me, I won't say that I will NEVER eat meat or drink milk again, but it's going to be VERY limited. I will not go hungry on this "diet." I will eat all the fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, etc. that I want. Our meals just won't be based around the meat. I want to be in control of my health, and for the first time, I feel like I have real, solid direction on how to prevent my family from contracting the diseases so prevalent in our society. We will still have treats...they'll just be limited, like they already (sort of) are.
I'm going to be doing A LOT of experimenting with Vegan recipes. We'll probably have to try lots of stuff to find dishes we like, but I'm not a huge meat-eater anyway, so I think it will be fun! My husband is totally supportive, he rolls his eyes thinking it's just another weird phase, but I feel VERY strongly about what I read.
On another note, I've already received opposition! Sometimes to me, that's a good sign that I'm on the right track! When I read something I'm passionate and excited about, I have a hard time not talking about it to anyone who will listen. I have to be reminded that telling people they need to stop eating meat, and drinking milk is going against something we've ALL belived our whole lives to be HEALTHY. Everyone needs to read it and decide for themselves. My cute sister called me yesterday, no less than 3 times, to make sure I'm not going to be TOO extreme with this. She doesn't want my kids to be the weird ones who never get any snacks, so they go to friends' houses, and scour the pantries for a treat. I don't want that either! My response was that ALL I'm doing is adding MORE fruits and vegetables to our diet, and cutting back on milk, eggs, and meat. They will still get cake on their birthdays.
I'll let you know how it's going. If you have any AWESOME meatless recipes, send them my way! What's your take? Am I crazy? Is eating a whole food, plant-based diet something you would EVER consider? Will you read the book? Discuss.