The China Study Author Dr. T. Colin Campbell (and 80+ Year Old Vegan) Sure Can Dance
Part of what holds people back on the stage, the dance floor and the kitchen floor (where I like to dance) is the status quo. Let me rephrase that. It’s the power we are choosing to give to the status quo. This keeps us from moving and eating as the powerhouses that we are.
We surrender our power to schemers. Manufacturers of manipulative messages and images that lead us to think we are not good enough without buying what they have to offer. Without following the masses.
We move how we want around here.
This status quo bull has been going on for some time. And it has twisted our minds in ways we can’t even see. That’s why we need to hear from people who are drawing conclusions based on information gathered outside of the media and pop culture.
Stick with me.
I’m talking about Scientists. Researchers who are not paid to skew their findings, but instead earn grants to discover patterns that give us insight in how to live a long and meaningful life. Researchers like Dr. T. Colin Campbell.
Dr. Campbell has helped so many of us see how so much confusion about food and weight-loss has been manufactured, and how we can rise above it. He is the co-author of the bestselling book “The China Study”. He is also Professor Emeritus at my alma matter Cornell University. This is the man who coined the term “whole food, plant-based” because he wanted the public and decision makers to really look at what this diet can do for us all before dismissing it as outside the status quo along with vegetarianism and veganism.
I worked at the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies in Ithaca NY. During that time, I had conversations with Colin that should have been aired on prime time TV and gotten us both locked up. Conversations about food and politics that were so shocking that I’m still processing them.
When I mention the China Study, most people have heard of it. The New York Times called it “The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted”. It hangs in the back of our minds. More than one million copies have been bought since it came out in 2005, and more people discover the book every single day. The comprehensiveness of The China Study is the key here. But for a while the research was narrowed in on the effects of the consumption of an isolated cow milk protein called casein. When Dr. Campbell discovered that he could potentially turn cancer on and off in experiments with this milk protein, and he put on a wider lens. He looked at a huge amount of data on diet and disease that was collected throughout rural China until telling patterns emerged. As he did this, it looked like it was more than just milk protein that could be leading to more cancer and other diseases in humans. It looked like it could be animal protein, and animal food in general.
Consider this. Each person only needs a certain amount of food and nutrients to survive and thrive. When we eat animal food, we are choosing to eat meat, eggs and dairy instead of plants. That means we eat less plants because we’re filling up on on animals.
Do you want your kid to fill up on junk food before dinner or eat their whole grains, plant protein and vegetables before they have a cookie? It’s the same concept.
You can get everything you need from a whole food plant-based diet except Vitamin D (which comes from the sun) and B12 (which you can get from fortified nutritional yeast, fortified almond milk, etc.). So it’s not just about what we are adding to our diets. It’s also about what is missing due to the choices we make. Meat eaters, you’re missing out on some seriously beneficial plant nutrition. I’m just sayin!
And have you ever seen headlines about fat-fighting superfoods? So what happens if you eat these superfoods and keep eating and drinking all the other addictive processed food that’s keeping you from being the weight you want? I’ll give you a hint. Disappointment. Superfoods and supplements are placebos when they’re the only health promoting foods you are eating. They aren’t helping anyone if they’re consumed with 3 meals of junk food every day. You have to look at the big picture to get the results.
The most important lesson Colin taught me was to beware of reductionism.
Reductionism is a tool used to make highly unrealistic research findings seem like they apply to real life. Reductionism is used to market products. Salmon and blueberries and chia. Vitamins. Sure, each of these foods may be good for you on their own.
But life does not happen in isolation.
Reductionism is a tool used to reduce us to consumers instead of people with the dream of leading big beautiful lives.
Just as a side – do you know what is more powerful than Viagra? It’s a whole food, plant-based diet. So if you’re in to having good sex with a man, make him some whole food vegan dinner! Ask him to make it for you. Seriously. It can be that simple if you commit to new habits and keep them going.
In a 2014 article titled “Breast Cancer, Cholesterol, and Reductionism” on nutritionstudies.org, Colin pointed out “how medical research routinely works, focusing on one event at a time, buried within an immensely complex system.”
This is dangerous. Consider this: “Developing single potentially dangerous, tissue-targeted drugs to block single pathways routinely sets aside control of the real culprit, diet. This strategy is so feeble, so ill-advised and so focused on creating wealth for the few over health for the many! Shameful!”
These targeted drugs have become a red herring. What we choose to eat all day every day has been downplayed, and we are suffering because of it.
Working with Colin was very eye opening. He is an honest man, a family man, and he is very open to the ideas of others. He is happy to sit at the table with a Paleo expert and an Atkins Diet proponent and have a good conversation. He is very interested in GMOs and the environmental implications of eating meat. Colin is always learning new things from all kinds of people. We can listen and learn like Colin.
After all. Do you want to learn about health from someone who is overweight and has low energy? Or do you want to learn from an 80+ year old man who can still run five miles and get down on the dance floor?
I dance for plants. I dance for peace. Let me know what you dance for.