Have you noticed? More and more people seem to be talking about The China Study
? First published in 2005, the book could well represent the tipping point in the mainstream trend towards a plant-food diet. Written by T. Colin Campbell, an American biochemist who specialises in nutrition and health, and his son, The China Study
has been gaining traction (along with sales of half a million and counting) after a year in which a number of vegan and plant-food-based health and diet books have hit the best-seller lists. Note: the authors rarely mention the word ‘vegan’, which they see as an ethical position; rather, ‘plant-food diet’ is the straight, more scientific term used to illustrate what they believe is the healthiest way to eat.
The book’s title refers to a 20-year study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine, Cornell University and the University of Oxford; Campbell senior was the project director. The tagline on the book reads: ‘The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted.’ And it certainly seems that way. The study examined the diets and lifestyles of 65,000 Chinese citizens, and their links to mortality rates and various chronic diseases (heart and brain disease, obesity, cancer). The conclusion: those who ate more animal proteins suffered from more chronic diseases than those who ate predominantly plant-food diets. The China Study
is not your usual good-health book. Written by someone with 30 years’ hands-on experience in the field of nutrition science and research, and backed up with numerous other impressive studies, there are no recipes and preachy words, just simple and straightforward advice. In summary: eat more plants.
The authors combat many misconceptions about vegan eating (although do concede that a B12 supplement may be necessary), as well as argue against many other long-held nutritional beliefs – for example, the importance of vitamin supplements in general. In their view, you can get almost everything you need from the plant kingdom, and doing so keeps you healthy and strong. One vocal fan is the healthy-new Bill Clinton, who certainly seems to illustrate the health benefits of everything The China Study
espouses; after two sessions of heart surgery, Clinton now eats only legumes, vegetables and fruit (and the occasional piece of fish) and has lost around 10 kilograms, setting him on track to reach his teenage weight.
As The China Study
makes clear, research is all good and well, but it’s not until you try the diet yourself that you’ll believe in the health benefits. The authors encourage a thirty-day trial and insist that you’ll see a decrease in cholesterol and weight, as well as a boost in energy. The proof, in other words, is in the pudding (hold the butter and eggs). Related Content:
Health news: How to cut snacking in half
Health news: Could your contraception lead to memory loss?
Health buzz: Brain food