Archive for December 2nd, 2011

Last Saturday I finished reading “The China Study“, by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II (2006©).   Basically, the book is about using a plant-based diet to extend your life and improve / maintain your health.  The title comes from an extensive study of diet (what people normally eat as opposed to what people eat to lose weight) in the majority of rural counties in China which the author believes found a correlation between the amount of animal protein consumed and the level of several diseases (heart disease, diabetes and various forms of cancer).
The author acknowledges that correlation is not causation, but he proposes that based on the results of the study, we should forego the traditional “Western Diet” of meat, eggs, dairy and oils and return to a simpler diet consisting exclusively of plant-based foods (vegetables, fruits and nuts) and preferably raw foods.
I got this book from my sister, who is currently a practicing vegetarian.  She loaned it to me because Hil and I were discussing the book “Eat To Live” with her.  (See my review here.)  Anyway, she said although she has not read “Eat To Live“, it sounds very much like a book she has read (“The China Study“).  So I appropriated it for the masses (or should I say massive – me).
I found the book fairly interesting (and quotable), but also a bit overbearing in parts.  The main problem with reading this kind of book is that if you’re already inclined to agree with the author, very little the author says will seem incorrect.  The three things I most agree with are 1.)  excessive meat (beef, poultry, pork and fish) and dairy consumption can lead to poor health,  2.)  excessive reductionism in scientific research of complex systems can lead to faulty conclusions, and, 3.)  the government is not necessarily on the people’s side when it comes to nutrition and food.
The fundamental question is:  “How much meat and dairy are too much?”  The author proposes any at all should be considered too much.  That’s a pretty tough standard.  At least in the “Eat To Live” book the author recognized almost nobody is going to go completely without meat.
Does the book, “prove” its claims.  No.  Does it make sense?  Yes, it feels intuitively correct (recognizing my personal bias going into the reading of the book).  Is the book worth reading?  I believe it is.  Will I ever stick to the recommendations?  Nope.  Not a chance…  I enjoy eating meat and will have it occasionally.  I will have it less frequently than before and when I do have meat in my meal, I will make an effort to eat less of it than I would before, but I can’t imagine going through the rest of my life with no meat whatsoever.
By the way, in my own personal struggle with weight and health – I do feel much better since moving to a “mostly” plant-based and “mostly” unprocessed foods diet.  I do seem to be losing weight slowly and I am still doing it while “mostly” not being hungry.  The down side is I can really feel the difference (mostly bloating) when I do indulge in meat, sugar or salt.  Still, while a “down side”, I’m not sure such cognitive recognition is a negative.  It’s kind of like my body saying, “See, this is the price you pay for eating that way…”  Only now, I can hear my body saying it much more clearly.

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About the dumb Earthlings versus the smart Earthlings:  I have known a fair number of scientists over the years, and I noticed that they were often as bored by each other’s work as dumb people would be.
    —    Kurt Vonnegut, Jr
From his book:  “Wampeters Foma & Granfalloons

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