Don’t Fear the China Study

The China Study is one of those books that many people discuss but not so many people have actually read. Admittedly, at 350+ pages, and with two bold subtitles, “The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted” and “Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-term Health,” it doesn’t exactly scream ‘light summer read’—and anyway, people can get the basic gist of Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s work by watching the critically-acclaimed documentary, Forks Over Knives. But those who read the book will find it rewarding and informative.

The book’s main argument is that a whole-foods, plant-based diet can prevent and even reverse a host of chronic diseases associated with the consumption of a western-style diet high in animal-source and processed foods. It has become Dr. Campbell’s life work to spread this message to a public that is misled and misguided by government regulators, food producers, and longstanding cultural preferences for consuming animal-source foods.

But the book provides so much more depth than Forks Over Knives can pack into 96 minutes—especially since the film is geared more towards a general audience, focusing largely on the personal journey of people who are either suffering the health consequences of a western-style diet or have recovered through the healing benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet. The film is informative and certainly worth watching, but much of the rich content from the book is not contained in the documentary. In other words, if you have seen Forks Over Knives, you still have a lot to learn about the China Study.

Those who take the plunge into the book will find it organized, succinct, and surprisingly readable. For those wishing to go even deeper into the literature, there are 40 pages of references in the back of the book; with over a half century of experience in nutritional biochemistry and hundreds of published articles, Dr. Campbell is a true veteran in this area of study, citing an enormous body of medical evidence to bolster the book’s arguments. To say this book is academically rigorous would be an understatement; the New York Times likened the study at the heart of the book to “the Grand Prix of Epidemiology.”

I was delighted to see that there is a new documentary in the works by Nelson Campbell, T. Colin Campbell’s son, entitled PlantPure Nation, which follows efforts by himself, his father Dr. Campbell, and Kentucky State Representative Tom Riner as they promote a whole-foods, plant-based diet, based on the findings from the China Study. By mainstreaming the fact that a whole-foods plant-based diet can literally reverse the many chronic diseases cause by our western diet, they are working to forge a healthier and more sustainable food future.

In coming weeks, I will be summarizing some of the conclusions of The China Study, so stay tuned.


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