If you are going to read a book on diet, read this one. The author, one of the most qualified people in the world to discuss the relationship between diet and health, was a lead scientist of the massive China Study, a two decades long look at diet and disease patterns in rural China. More than 6,500 people in sixty-five counties participated. To this day, the study is unmatched in its breadth. To sum up, what they found amounted to a scathing indictment of animal based diets, whether in China or America or anywhere else.
No doubt many people will try arguing with the conclusions, which are nothing less than a wholesale rejection of the standard American diet (SAD). In place of our large quantities of meat and milk, processed sugars and denatured carbohydrates, Dr. Campbell argues for a whole grains, fruit and vegetables based diet, and demonstrates convincingly that such a diet is not only preventative of disease, but can actually reverse or ameliorate life threatening illnesses. He supports this argument not only with the results of the China Study itself, but also with the findings of hundreds of other peer reviewed articles published in well-known scientific journals.
The book is to an extent autobiographical in nature. Dr. Campbell tells us about how he grew up on his family’s farm, eating–and enjoying–the typical hearty farm fare of bacon, sausages, eggs, milk, etc. Then, early in his scientific career, while studying the conjoined effects of aflotoxin and various proteins, he noticed that rats ingesting lower quantities of protein did not succumb to the potent carcinogen. This was the start of what became a life-long bucking against “established” knowledge that had assumed there was no relationship between diet and cancer; everyone had assumed it was “in the genes.”
The core of the book looks at several diseases of affluence and their relationship to diet, diseases such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, common cancers (breast, prostate, bowel), autoimmune diseases, as well as others such as bone, kidney, eye and brain disorders. All demonstrate significant linkage with diet, and all demonstrate significant treatability by diet. A very short third section offers a guide to nutrition, basically a quick primer on how to live vegan and still get everything you need. The final section of the book is the one most likely to cause people to gnash their teeth and groan, for here Dr. Campbell reveals the behind-the-scenes machinations of our government, corporations and scientific bodies as they scratch each others backs, work to maintain the status quo (an ignorant public), and do whatever it takes to maximize profits. I found this section nothing short of infuriating, and realized that even the company I work for, a leading cancer research facility, is no different in its focus to develop drugs and devices that, while perhaps extending a few patients’ lives a few years, will exercise their most significant impact by enriching Big Pharma.
This book is a wake up call. It’s the sort you want to tell people about, buy for your well-meaning but ignorant friends and relatives, and even put into practice. I’ve considered and tried vegetarianism before; this book will likely prove the kick that sends me over the fence.
My Amazon rating: 5 stars