If I had ever wavered on consuming dairy products before I found this book, I was as strict as could be after reading it. Putting my ethical concerns aside, I now avoid dairy, meat and eggs like the plague. They may as well be.
I discovered this book after becoming vegetarian, in the early days I spent trawling through animal issues on the internet, scrolling down through seemingly-endless comments on various blogs. I was learning a lot but how reliable were my sources? I could never be sure that what these vegans were talking about was truth or just biased information. When one commmenter claimed that "milk causes cancer", well, I was blown away. This was extreme, especially with the reverence and fear with which we treat "the Big C". But my interest was piqued and I kept reading. The China Study was mentioned. I kept reading. The China Study was mentioned again. And again, and again. I went to different articles, different blogs and this title to a book I'd never even heard of before just kept coming up. So I researched the book, told my partner about it and not long after we bought a copy from our local New Editions bookstore. My partner read it before me (normally I would find it unbearable to have to wait to read a new book but I was so busy with university that I didn't even mind) and would excitedly relate to me snippets of information from the book, all the while begging me to please stop drinking milk.
The title of the book tends to put people off, I think. It is all about nutrition, so why the China Study? Well, the research presented in this book all stems down to an ongoing epidemiological study started decades ago in China by T. Colin Campbell, PhD where the effects of nutrition on human health first began to be truly realised. In the book, the results of the China Study are presented, as well as the results of many other scientific and medical trials and studies, all relating to nutrition and the role that it plays in our health. Basically, animal products are ridiculously dangerous for our health, and plant-based whole foods are ridiculously good for us. We all sort of knew this already, right? Everybody knows that fruits and vegetables are good for you, and that eating too much cheese or red meat may cause health problems. But I was, and I suspect most other people who consume a Western diet are, totally unaware of the true impact that animal products have on disease development. For example, although heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in Australia, we all sort of think of it as an fat person's problem, yeah? That if you eat a well-balanced diet, drink alcohol in moderation, and exercise regularly, then we'll be exempt, and that heart attacks are bound to happen if you're overweight or just generally unhealthy..? Well in the 1950s autopsies were performed on the bodies of 300 American soldiers killed in action in the Korean War. The average age of the soldiers was 22 years old. Military medical researchers found that 77% of the hearts of these soldiers showed large evidence of heart disease. Now when you think of heart disease I bet a fit 22 year old soldier doesn't spring to mind as the typical victim.
But heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, gall stones, obesity, multiple sclerosis and dementia can all be prevented or their effects reduced by avoiding animal-based foods and consuming a plant-based, wholefoods diet.
On a personal level, I have in my extended family one family member who may be obese, two who have died from cancer, four more who have fought cancer and survived, some of them multiple times, one family member with Type 2 Diabetes, one with Alzheimer's dementia, and immediate family members who have struggled with weight issues and had multiple incidences of skin cancer. (Editor's note: I can now unfortunately add one family member who has had a massive stroke.) So, no heart disease, and no autoimmune diseases, but just about every other sickness that could be prevented or managed with a plant-based diet. And while written like that it may seem like a lot, is it really? Think of your own families, and people that you know. What's the bet that your own experience of these diseases is not too dissimilar to mine?
I am incredibly grateful to have found The China Study. So many myths about food have been exploded, so many fears about inevitable illness allayed. I'm no longer feeding myself with poison. From a health perspective, I am so relieved that veganism is the absolute best way to live. I found the information in this book so precious that I gifted a copy to each immediate family member for Christmas in the hope that they can avoid a life of illness. I only hope that they read it, as it truly is a life-saver. I wish everyone could have access to the information that this book provides. Well they all do, it's just a matter of choosing to read it.