Do you ever find yourself wondering what is the healthiest way to eat? I’ve pondered this question many times over the years.
At least until a few years ago. That’s when I read the book The China Study, which has become a sort of a manifesto for vegans today. In fact, many people who talk about vegan diets use this book as a resource.
Source: William J. Clinton Foundation
People are beginning to take notice. Consider for example President Bill Clinton. President Clinton spoke recently with journalist Willow Bay and told her that he is experimenting with a vegan diet. Although it sounds like he’s not completely sold on the concept, he told Bay, “I’m trying to be one of those experimenters.” He continued, “Since 1986, several hundred people who have tried essentially a plant-based diet, not ingesting any cholesterol from any source, have seen their bodies start to heal themselves — break up the arterial blockage, break up the calcium deposits around the heart. Eighty-two percent of the people who have done this have had this result, so I want to see if I can be one of them.”
The China Study was written by health researcher Dr. T. Colin Campbell about his research in rural China. His book makes connections between our diets and the diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer that plague so many people today. Campbell says, “I propose to do nothing less than redefine what we think of as good nutrition” and tells his readers, “You need to know the truth about food, and why eating the right way can save your life.”
In fact, The China Study goes straight for the jugular of the Standard American Diet: protein. So many people believe that protein is the holy grail of health. In fact, the most common response I hear after telling people I’m vegan is, “Where do you get your protein?” It can be maddening, especially after you read what Dr. Campbell says that he uncovered in his studies: “Children who ate the highest protein diets were the ones most likely to get liver cancer.” And it’s not just any protein that causes the problems; it’s animal-based proteins that are most problematic. Americans consume on average 70 grams of protein a day compared to the Chinese who consume only 7.1 grams per day.
Neal Barnard, MD, President of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, said, “Everyone in the field of nutrition science stands on the shoulders of T. Colin Campbell, who is one of the giants in the field. This is one of the most important books about nutrition ever written — reading it may save your life.”
So what is the healthiest way to eat? A lot of trends may come and go, but I don’t think anyone can go wrong with a diet consisting of plenty of whole, plant-based foods. I have yet to read any studies indicating problems with broccoli, unless it’s not carefully washed.
And I have some good news for President Clinton. Eating a vegan diet can include a lot of exciting and flavorful foods. Welcome to the cholesterol-free club!