When I heard that author T. Colin Campbell was speaking in Los Angeles I knew I couldn't miss it, especially after seeing Forks Over Knives the night before. His talk was called, "The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long Term Health", with the subtitle, "life changing information for you and your loved ones." How could anyone resist that subject matter?
What's nice about Campbell is that he is not a doctor, he's a scientist and researcher. He does not own a company and is not trying to sell you products (except maybe his book). In fact, Campbell believes that health is often about what we should take away things from our diet, not what we add, and this includes medications and vitamins. However, the plant based diet he promotes must include whole foods - no preservatives, no chemicals - and you may have to introduce this into your life for the first time. He said: Start with reductionism then move to wholism. Take an experimental observation and turn it into a world view. Begin with the "trees" and then spread to the "entire forest".
Campbell supports veganism, but doesn't really use the term. Instead he calls it a "plant based diet", which is more broad and less intimidating. His research is impressive, inspiring, and informative. He studied the correlations between animal protein from meat and dairy (casein) and illness/disease. This lead him to discover that eating a plant based diet of whole foods can prevent, suspend, and/or cure conditions such as: cancers, heart disease, M.S., kidney stones, cataracts, osteoporosis, diabetes, macular degeneration, hypertension, acne, migraine, lupus, depression, Alzhemier's disease. All of this can happen without medication - if that isn't convincing I don't know what is.
In fact, one interesting finding was that there is "no evidence to support antioxidant supplements to prevent mortality in healthy people or patients with various diseases", and "beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E significantly increased mortality." Which leads us to ask where nutrition fits in, to which Campbell replied "it doesn't". And why not? Because it is:
- poorly understood by the public
- research funding hardly exists
- doctors are not trained
- national policy and standards are corrupted by the food and drug industries
So what can you do? Start with yourself - become educated and change the way you eat. Then spread the message (without preaching) to your family and friends. We cannot control the world, but we can control ourselves and we can vote with our dollar. We can control what we eat, which doctors we visit (or not visit), where we do our research, and what companies we support.
In the end, it all comes down to health, and that is the only proof that counts. Experiment with the plant based diet and see how it makes you feel. Try going off medication (like I did with my allergies) and monitor your reaction after a month. Take some classes, pick up a whole foods cookbook (like The McDougall Quick And Easy), or try a healthy restaurant in your area (macrobiotic if you can). Leave behind your judgements and fears and give it a chance - for your health's sake.
Here are some photos from the event, which was held at White Memorial Adventist Church - it was a great turnout. Before Campbell spoke some children put on a great show with really neat instruments made out of wood or bamboo. After the seminar they passed out bananas and clementines!