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The China Study

October 03, 2009 — BarryK
This post is definitely in the "General" category, not "Woof"!

There is a thread running in the forum about the Swine Flu vaccine, would you take it, to which I posted a response. Then while on my morning walk my mind went off into a whole lot of memories about my own and others medical experiences. Somehow I got onto thinking about diet -- well of course our wellbeing is strongly related to diet.

I'm a vegetarian, have been since, over 33 years. I'm what is known as a ovo-lacto-vegetarian, meaning I take diary products and eggs. A couple of years ago I was most surprised when my daughter became a vegan -- I had previously considered them to be the lunatic fringe.

The thing is, a lot of what we take to be as "fact", turns out later to be bogus. The same holds for medical professionals -- after a lifetime of experience, my opinion of them has been steadily dropping. I think that generally they are good at "physical" things, like cutting out a tumour or stitching up a cut. But beyond that, many of them, especially GPs, are quite ignorant.

For the first year that my daughter became a vegan, she went to a doctor for regular checkups. She also had her blood checked. On one visit to get her blood test results, her blood was excellent, her general health good, but the doctor persisted in being very critical of her being a vegan. My daughter retorted "In your 5 year degree you study nutrition for just 5 weeks, and you think that qualifies you to lecture to me as though you know it all!" Yeah, well, the doctor wasn't happy. That's my daughter, she has turned out to be a very strong character.

As is typical of the "newly converted", she often prompts me to adopt veganism. Like a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I still eat eggs, and she responds "you know what they do to the hens after they stop laying, don't you!". Sigh, yes, I can imagine.

Anyway, there's a book that she got me to read, "The China Study". It's about as anti-quack as you can get, very heavy reading, but I did read it right through. I still didn't become a vegan, but I found it fascinating for various reasons -- one of which is how our knowledge about medicine and diet, what we consider as "fact", is highly manipulated by vested interests.

The principle author was a very high-profile researcher who was in charge or co-charge of many major studies, and served on many government panels. His stories of behind-the-scenes twisting and hiding of the truth are fascinating.

Personally, I don't think that you "must" become vegetarian or vegan. The essential thing that the book concludes is the importance of a natural "whole food" diet that is high in plant content, low in animal content.

I think that it is one of those "must read" books.

Finally, for the sake of balance, there's this very critical review of "The China Study":

...which also has a link to a response from Dr Campbell.


How to eat
Username: lobster
:happy: I am a great believer in vegans. Some of them are delicious. [am I wikid] Is your daughter planning to move onto fruitarianism? Karmic free eating. I have been on some extreme diets, including an extreme anti-candida one that probably saved my life. Tsk tsk - became out of body-balance. I am gonna eat my freshly killed muesli now. One day I will be worm food. Maybe I will just crawl to one of our two compost heaps just in time . . . and now back to the sensible discussions . . .

Blood Type Diet
Username: cthisbear
"Eat Right """""" Blood Type Diet/ Nutrient Value Encyclopedia Chris/

Practice Medicine
Username: lwill
"Remember, doctors "practice" medicine. If they were always right would they really need to practice? And do you want them "practicing" on you? They tend to be like M$, keep treating the symptoms, but not finding / fixing the cause.

The China Study
Username: ttuuxxx
"I don't know guys, too each there own, I'm 38yrs old 6'2" tall and weigh the same less than I did when I was 18, I was 175lbs at 18 and at 38 I'm 165lbs, My diet is basically coffee in the morning, lol small lunch, coffee in the afternoon, and a very large super, we are talking 1 large steak, 3 medium potatoes, carrots, onions, broccoli, gravy etc. I also was on a beer diet, used to drink about a min 30+ beers a week for about 20yrs, lol Gave up beer about 12 months ago, only drink it very rare now, since then I went from 180lbs to 165lbs. Don't feel any better but don't feel any worse :) will I ever switch to a veggie only diet, never, I really love a good bbq steak, glazed ham, Garlic shrimp and lobsters, pot-roast, stuffed turkeys, bacon and eggs. One think I can't stand is rice and Chinese noodles, I'm more for potatoes, reg and sweet. ttuuxxx

Smart and moderate
Username: dogone
""The essential thing that the book concludes is the importance of a natural "whole food" diet that is high in plant content, low in animal content." I too am a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I have been for half my 60 years. Having been exposed to every nutrition-related opinion and practice over the years, I've come to conclude the above. Eat smart, in moderation, selecting a balanced diet of fresh, natural, whole foods. Health is not simply a matter of diet. It's also about genetics, stress, exercise, etc. And "being" this or that is a lot less important that "doing" what's best for your mind and body. A holistic approach to wellbeing is best. Barry. Why not take advantage of the space you have there and start a small veggie garden? It doesn't require a great deal of space or time, is great exercise (for the back) and absolutely nothing compares to home grown. If water is tight, install a small drip system. If insects are a problem, build a removable screened surround or grow indoors. Alternately, you can grow your garden in containers or pots. If your thumb is not yet green, consult the library or other local growers. If gardening doesn't appeal, investigate local community/cooperative gardens or home growers willing to sell or trade what they grow. Many farmers also welcome the extra income.

Trusting "facts"
Username: Dougal
"Hehe, your daughter sounds like my kind of girl... A couple of things regarding trusting "facts": - See the OOXML fiasco (and pretty much any process involving MS... and Intel... and Monsanto... etc.) to see just how "objective" things are when money is involved. - Even if no shady business is involved, there's also what Feynman had to say about the practice of "pseudo-science": Or as a friend of mine put it: it's not that psychology _can't_ be a proper science, the problem is the kind of people practicing it... (substitute "psychology" with "medicine" for a bit of good old patronizing physicist attitude from me...)

Mostly agree
Username: PaulBx1
"I don't believe in (witch) doctors; haven't seen one in 10 or 15 years except to get my hand sewn up when I had a run-in with barb wire. They did my Dad no good, that's for sure. Sold a lot of pills though. I think everyone should eat what they want. I personally eat some meat, mostly game meat, venison, elk, buffalo, antelope. I figure carnivores have been on this planet for half a billion years or so, must be something to it. Agree there should be a higher ratio of vegetation to meat though. There have been hearings in Congress about Americans being too fat. I guess the Nanny State wants to take care of us some more. We look like farm animals to them, I guess. I've weighed about 150 lb for the last 40 years so I won't be needing their help.

My two cents
Username: Feverfew
"My two cents. Get chickens why do all the hard work when thy will do it for you. Mm mm eggs. Quoted from “Confusion of Correlation and Causation Closely related to post hoc, but a little bit different, is the confusion of correlation and causation. Post hoc assumptions do not necessarily include any correlation between the two observations. When there is a correlation, but still no valid causation, we have a more convincing confusion. Starling: [i]"Chinese people eat a lot of rice."[/i] Bombo: [i]"Therefore the consumption of rice must cause black hair."[/i] Due to the nature of Chinese agriculture, there is indeed a worldwide correlation between rice consumption and hair color. This is a perfect example of how causation can be invalidly inferred from a simple correlation.”

Another vegan puppy member
Username: Tony
"Hi Barry, there are a lot more of us vegans out here (Veggie since 1978 and vegan since 1986) so bonus marks to you and your daughter! I became a veggie and then vegan simply because in this world we can choose a path that involves causing more or less suffering to animals but would remain one for any of the following reasons. Deforestation (Huge tracts of land cleared for growing feed for cattle or grazing releasing (Eating meat is inefficient)) Health, when vegan my son just did not get ill (Except for the time he used the "play flour" which was years out of date (and contained as we later found out weevils) to make pancakes) Also my eczema and psoriasis disappeared and I have had two doctors take my blood pressure etc and say “Are you a sportsman”. Climate change, production of meat causes around the same level as all cars in the world Human suffering as over grazing causes loss of top soil turning them to deserts, uses huge amounts of water and resources. The info is all out there on the web. Tony P.S. How old is your daughter and does she come to England 8-)

Username: BarryK
"Feverfew, I kepts chickens (in Australia and New Zealand we call them "chooks" ) a few years ago. Yes, it is the better option, from the ethical point of view (let them retire and die of old age) and health -- as you then know exactly what is going into them (no hormones, etc.). I had two of them, they became very tame. Used to come and stand on my shoes. I used to let them out during the day. They love bugs -- so indirectly I was a "bugo-ovo-lacto-vegetarian"! fact, seeing the things they found kind of put me off eggs for awhile :happy:

Egg production
Username: Tony
"If anyone is interested here is a video about commercial egg production, I won't post anything else on the subject.

Username: Feverfew
" @tony Two can play at that game...Seriously though the disgusting video why go there :p. Marshmallow Murder =)

Vegan diet
Username: daughter
"Hi all I am the daughter mentioned above. I reject the notion of consuming non-human beings because I see no reason for humans to exploit them. Exploiting non-humans is purely an unnecessary and violent industry which I do not find justification to support. My main reason for going vegan was the acknowledgement of a multi-sensory beings basic right to live, and our lack of substantial reasoning to justify exploiting and consuming them. The whole idea of veganism being considered extreme interests me. If you think about it, you can logically draw parallels between the consumption of a non-human to the rape or abuse of person of colour. In all scenarios, one disadvantaged individual is being dominated/exploited by another individual of greater power and this is justifiable to the dominating party as morally acceptable. I think it is imperative to question why in adulthood we consume milk intended for a child? I wouldn't go to my Mum now and ask her to whoop out her breasts for me to suckle on, so why cows? Why that species? At the end of the day it all comes down to - We need plants. We can be very healthy on a plant based diet with no supplements. Consuming egg and dairy is supporting violence and unnecessary - it's merely something I choose to not be a part of - but I respect those who decide otherwise, as long as they make informed and morally consistent decisions. I found China Study a great read. Especially learning of the politics behind why selective health information is relayed to unsuspecting consumers. The premise of being a vegan is the abolition of unnecessary exploitation from ones lifestyle to the best of their ability. Rejecting non-human products is not extreme - it's a logical progression into a morally consistent and rational lifestyle.

Vegan diet
Username: daughter
"I'd also like to add, that if there were a good enough reason to consume dairy & eggs - I would, but there isn't other than; convenience, taste, tradition, culture, perceived 'health'. A good example of a diet that Campbell recommends is the Israelites of Jerusalem. They are a completely vegan community who have not had a single case of any form of disease in over 40 years, they flourish on a simple plant based diet. That's the kicker for me, you CAN live and be healthy on a plant diet (in most regions), so supporting the use of animals is purely out of self interest.

Vegan diet -- con
Username: Sit Heel Speak
"I haven't read _The China Study_. But, regarding the "Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem," who appear to be blacks from the U.S., I would be wary of "selective health information," or in plain English "research fraud." Why? Because the city they chose to settle in, Dimona, is a nuclear weapons production center. Therefore, any negative health trends which do exist among them, no matter the cause, are likely to be covered up by a propaganda campaign orchestrated by the Israeli government. It is entirely plausible that an Israeli government cover-up would include faked research pointing to extraordinary good health, no matter what the actual truth is. If _The China Study_ does not corroborate the findings of Weston Price in the 1930's, then that to my mind would cast suspicion on _The China Study_. I would urge you to study the work of Weston Price, a dentist who travelled the world in the 1930's, looking for a purely vegetarian culture which enjoyed excellent health down through multiple generations. His study, quite exhaustive, concluded that no such thing has ever existed. The pre-Western-contact Hunzas came closest, but still ate meat on religious holidays, and kept goats for milk and cheese. Price's best-known modern disciple is Sally Fallon, author of the cookbook _Nourishing Traditions_, and she sums up Price's findings nicely in it. I suggest you check out her book and at least read her introductory material. Her research is well footnoted. The vegan mainstay, soy, is very harmful to human health, in particular there is a strong correlation to female cancers. In my opinion, eating along the lines that Price/Fallon suggest, with a small intake of animal fats, --and I would add, everything either wild or else raised by strict biodynamic agricultural practices-- is the real way to save yourself and the world.

For some of us is more complex
Username: rarsa
"I've thought about being vegetarian. I know the benefits even though I am convinced that humans evolved to where we are as scavengers and omnivorous. The point is that now we are where we are. Do we still need meet? Being a father of two young adult children. I still prepare the food for them. Making the choice to go veg would be a choice imposed on them. Being full time employed I barely have time to cook, but I still do it every day, adding the pressure of multiple menus would be impractical. Regarding the convenience, taste, tradition, culture. I find all of them important. For me eating is not just a function but a pleasure, from presentation to taste including the comforting pleasure of tradition. Another barrier for me (albeit not unsurmountable) is variety. I have a hard time finding varied menus given all the options available. I would need to learn a whole new set of tricks/skills if I go vegetarian. Finally. I am also convinced that in the future (if humans survive) they will look back with surprise that we had a meet based diet where we kept live animals as "slaves". So, I understand the moral, ethical, ecological and health issues associated with eating meet. I just have found going vegetarian, extremely impractical for me (poor excuse, I know). I know that I'll eventually get there, one of those life changes that happen when children leave the nest.

Doesn't need to be complex
Username: Daughter
"Hi there Very interesting about the Israelites - I would be keen to know more about a suspected cover up! Fascinating and also disappointing. i wonder if there are any books about it on Amazon. In terms of being healthy on a vegan diet, I have friends who have been so ranging from 5-25 years with no animal products - all in perfect health reaching middle age. I eat very little soy - for me it's a treat if I do. All i can really go by is the proof of the people around me - and myself, to determine whether you can be healthy or not. I find taste/convenience/tradition not reasons at all. The choice to eat meat is not something like choosing what colour pants to wear today - it is about a mere meal for us but a matter of life or death for a non-human. I highly recommend reading the following pamphlet Gary Francione put together encompassing all of my points far more eloquently; Being veg*n is easier than you think. And you are not just confined to vegetables. I still eat store bought chocolate, cake, icecream, cheese, lollies....even things like garlic bread, mayonnaise and bacon bits are vegan! I get many of my recipes from here; I have an advantage in Melbourne. We have over 40 vegan restaurants, numerous cafes, non vegan restaurants also have vegan food, half the things in the supermarket turn out to be vegan (these are called ninja vegan products). But at the end of the day - my most favourite thing is simple food that my mum would make...dahl/roti. Mmmm :) I will be very keen to see in 50 years time, how we look back on our practices. I guess it is the same how we once treated women or blacks and now see it as appalling. I do not feel we can hope to extend compassion and strive for peace within our own species when we so callously and needlessly exploit so many other sentient species.

Tags: general