Twenty Reasons to Not Eat Within Your Own Kingdom
There is now a mountain of evidence suggesting that eating more fruits and vegetables in your diet offers many health benefits. Most of the benefits come from the addition of whole food of plant origin, (fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds etc.) because of all of the increased fibre, antioxidants, and phytonutrients available in this type of your diet, but a surprising number of benefits actually come from the subtraction/replacement of animal products from your diet. Animal products add substantial health risks when compared to plants in the areas of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer as well as a host of other diseases and illnesses. You can survive on a diet rich animal products, but you can thrive when you switch to a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet.
Now, to begin with, I must confess that this article kind of got away on me in terms of length, so if you want to cut to the chase, then simply scroll down to the 20 reasons below. I will not be offended in the least. However, if you want a more detailed explanation, then by all means read on.
a) Meat and Animal Tissue- Please note that for simplicity’s sake, the term ‘meat’ will refer in a generic manner to all animal tissue in this article, whether that tissue is muscle, organ meat, brains, intestines or any other part of an animal that people eat. In addition, the term ‘animal’ will refer to all animals, whether it is an animal that breathes air or has gills; swims, flies, walks, crawls or slithers. If it had a mother or a father, then it is an animal! If it was once alive and didn’t grow roots, then it was an animal! It is strange indeed to hear someone say that they are a vegetarian when they eat fish or chicken. !! ?? Fish and chicken are definitely not vegetables; they are clearly animals, and eating their flesh carries similar risks as eating other animal flesh.
b) Animal Products- When you see the term ‘animal products’ in this article, this broad category includes not only all meat and animal organs listed above, but also dairy and eggs. Dairy is animal excretions (aka milk) that has been processed into milk, cream, cheese, butter, yoghurt or any other item from the dairy department of your local grocery store. These products carry most of the same risks as meat (and some products are actually worse due to their high fat content). Eggs are not a health food either. Freedom of Information Act documents reveal that the U.S. Department of Agriculture warned the egg industry that saying eggs are healthy, safe or nutritious may violate rules against false and misleading advertising. Eggs don’t get to be called health foods because they are extremely high in cholesterol, they are high in fat, they contain high amounts of choline, and they are high in animal protein, which is a known cancer promoter. Therefore, anything that was once a live animal, or was excreted by an animal to then be further processed is an animal product. We will now examine just what these specific health issues and food constituents are.
It’s Not Just About Removing the Animal Products
While there are powerful ethical and environmental reasons for not eating meat, the information presented here is strictly focused on evidence-based studies showing that it is in your personal health interest to eat as few animal products as possible in your diet, and to replace them with whole plant-based food, not with processed food. For example, eating deep fried vegetables (e.g. French fries, sweet potato fries, or tempura) or eating plant-based products that have been heavily processed or refined into powders (think sugar, or white flour) or refined into oils (all oils!) is not a great step forward with anyone’s health. While it is important to acknowledge that some meats (e.g. low fat fish) are less damaging to human health than other meats, no animal-based food can even remotely compare to plants when we begin to talk about antioxidants, fibre, phytonutrients, and many other healthful dietary components.
Leaders in the Plant-Based Nutrition Field
The concept of achieving optimal health by maintaining whole foods of plant origin as the foundation of one’s diet is an opinion held by almost everyone in the medical and dietary community. Very few people would argue that this is the starting point of a healthy diet. This aspect is not really up for debate. While admittedly a small percentage of physicians currently believe that animal products should be completely excluded from our diet, thanks to a growing body of research, more and more doctors are now embracing a nutritional approach to health endorsing an exclusive whole food, plant-based diet. A few of the prominent doctors advancing this cause with either clinical work, or research, or public education as their raison d’être include:
- Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine representing over 10,000 doctors
- Michael Greger of Nutritionfacts.org that provides regular up to date information on a broad range of health topics as they relate to plant-centred eating, all backed up by evidence-based studies
- T. Colin Campbell (The China Study, and T. Colin Campbell Centre for Nutrition Studies at Cornell University)
- Caldwell Esselstyn of The Cleveland Clinic who has proven reversal of heart disease with a WFPB diet in two long-term studies
- Kim Williams President of the American College of Cardiology
- Dean Ornish who was the first medical doctor to show reversal of heart disease with plant-based diet (founder of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute , and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco)
- Thomas Campbell (The China Study, The Campbell Plan)
- John McDougall of the McDougall’s Health and Medical Centre
- Garth Davis who has developed a ‘Farmacy’ program at hospitals in the Houston area prescribing plants instead of drugs
- Alan Goldhamer, Michael Klaper, and Doug Lisle of True North Health Center
- Linda Carney, Pamela Popper, Jim Conway, and thousands of other doctors who support and endorse plant-based eating as well.
Many of these doctors, including Dr. Kim Williams (above) have been personally converted after seeing dramatic health changes in their patients. This movement is alive and growing thanks to the incredible results that so many people are seeing simply by changing what they eat.
Highlighted text is a hyperlink that will take you to peer-reviewed articles on the topic in question. We will look at animal products from two perspectives: a) what constituents or properties do they possess that undermines our health, and b) what properties or constituents do they lack that we know can promote health. This is not a definitive all-inclusive list, but rather a compilation of the top twenty concerns associated with the standard North American diet.
What constituents in animal foods harm us or detract from our health?
- Methionine is an essential amino acid that is present in both animal and plant proteins. We need some methionine in our diet, but we do not need much. We also know that methionine feeds cancer cells, speeding up their growth. While methionine likely does not cause cancer, many cancers are ‘methionine-dependent’, meaning that they need this nutrient to be able to grow in size and to metastasize. Restricting methionine has been proposed as a method of treating cancer. Methionine is present in higher concentration in animal-based foods, so a plant-based diet is a healthy manner of practicing methionine restriction.
- Exogenous endotoxins are found in all animal products, even fats. These cause an inflammatory reaction in our bodies that lasts up to 6 hours. As you know, the time between meals is typically less than 6 hours, so this leaves our bodies in a constant state of inflammation. Exogenous endotoxins are remnants from the outer membrane of gram negative bacteria. They are extremely heat-stable, so cannot be destroyed by cooking, and they are the main reason that meat causes an inflammatory reaction in our bodies.
- The ratio of amino acids in meat causes our bodies to up-regulate the production of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). IGF-1 is a natural human growth hormone instrumental in normal growth during childhood, but in adulthood it can promote abnormal growth—the proliferation, spread (metastasis), and invasion of cancer. Eating a plant-based diet slows down IGF-1 production and increases production of IGF binding protein, effectively tying up the IGF-1. The amino acids that are created from the ingestion and breakdown of animal protein actually encourage production of IGF-1. You may be aware that many years ago animal proteins were (mis)labelled ‘high quality’ or ‘superior’ because their amino acid ratio more closely mirrored human amino acid ratios than did plant-based foods. (They were genuinely mislabelled ‘complete’ proteins for a time, but this is actually incorrect terminology because vegetable proteins are also complete, supplying all of the amino acids that the human body needs.) For a more complete explanation of plant versus animal proteins, view this video. Yes, animal proteins encourage quicker cell growth, and this might be fine when one is young and growing, but after we have reached maturity and no longer need to grow, this same mechanism will encourage growth of cancer cells. This is not good! Plant proteins do not have this effect on the body. For more on IGF-1 check out these videos. Video 1, Video 2, Video 3
- Estrogen in Meat, Dairy and Eggs– You have undoubtedly read about xenoestrogens (synthetic estrogenic compounds) in the environment and in our drinking water. While this is of concern, the potency of animal estrogens can be thousands of times more estrogenic than typical endocrine disrupting chemicals. For example, a glass of cow’s milk contains 150 times more estrogen than a typical glass of water. Furthermore, animal estrogen is identical to human estrogen—they are identical molecules, so consuming animal products necessarily affects our own hormonal balance. Colin Campbell raises the point in The China Study that rural Chinese women (where animal products are an extremely small part of their diet) experience menarche at an average age of 17 years of age, whereas the average in the U.S. is 11 years of age[i]. Studies show that earlier menarche leads to increased risk of breast cancer. [ii] Increased consumption of animal products in women’s diet also delays menopause by 3 to 4 years, increasing women’s lifetime exposure to higher levels of estrogen by 9 to 10 years over women eating a largely plant-based diet. Increased reproductive years have also been linked to increased risk of breast cancer.[iii] [iv]
- Heavy Metals, Environmental Pollutants, Drug Residues, and Chemicals in Animal Feed – Plant-based foods are much lower on the food chain, so they typically contain far less environmental toxins. As well, many of these pollutants are fat-soluble, so they find their way into the fat cells of animals and remain there until we eat them. And surprisingly some of these chemicals are either intentionally or accidentally found within the feed of feed of farm animals and farmed fish. Environmental toxins have been shown to cause a host of diseases, including cancer. While some plant-based foods do have elevated levels of some metals or pollutants, it would appear that factors in plant-based foods either reduce gut absorption, or attenuate the effects of the pollutants once digested. Some examples of these pollutants include Cadmium, Mercury, PCB, Dioxins, More on Dioxins, Endocrine Disrupters, Perfluorochemicals, Flame Retardant Chemicals including Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) & polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCN), Arsenic, Antibiotics, Pharmaceutical Drug Residues
- Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are chemicals formed when the flesh of animals is cooked by high temperature methods such as pan frying or barbequing. These cooked meat carcinogens are also associated with an increased risk of kidney cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer. More than 20 heterocyclic amines have been reported in cooked meats, fish, and poultry prepared under common house-hold cooking conditions. Meat eaters are in a quandary with this issue because undercooked meat is not safe to eat due to pathogens such as E. coli, however as the cooking temperature and time increases more powerful mutagens such as HCAs and PAHs are formed.
- Stool pH- Eating a diet of meat causes our stools to develop a higher pH value. There appears to be a relationship between stool pH and bowel cancer. Lower pH is associated with less incidence of colon cancer. Higher concentrations of organic acids were found in the stools of plant-based eaters. These acids create a lower pH, whereas putrefactive bacteria eating animal protein are able to increase stool pH by producing alkaline metabolites like ammonia.
- Dietary Fat- Animal-based foods are generally higher in fat than whole plant-based food (exceptions include coconut, avocado, olives, seeds and nuts). To give you a ballpark idea of the fat content in animal foods, here is a list containing the fat content (as a percentage of calories) of some animal-based foods[v]:
|Wild Atlantic Salmon||40%|
|Farmed Atlantic Salmon||58%|
|Whole chicken, skin on||81%|
|Pork – ribs||77 %|
|Pork – bacon||89%|
|2% Milk||29%!!! (2% by weight, not calories!)|
|Homogenized (Whole) Milk||49% (Wow!)|
Here is what we know about virtually all dietary fat (whether saturated or not)
- Fats and oils impact negatively on endothelial cells which line our arteries. These endothelial cells have been found to actually be a critical component of our cardiovascular system.
- Dietary Fat impairs the natural anti-inflammatory properties of endothelial cells.
- Dietary Fat reduces the viscosity of blood reducing blood flow for several hours after eating a fatty meal.
- Dietary Fat causes oxidative inflammation within the cellular elements in our blood stream, which leads to plaque formation.
- Heating of fats and oils produces carcinogens- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
- There is now an established connection between fats and cancer- Hundreds of studies have been done on the effects of dietary fat on cancer occurrence in experimental animals. Both animal and vegetable fats have been shown to increase the risk of animals developing and dying of cancer (Cancer Res 52:2040, 1992).
- Fats raise cholesterol levels.
- Obesity- There is no question that dietary fat consumption is linked to obesity, which is now considered to be a national crisis. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, whereas protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram. The concept of ‘healthy obesity’ is now regarded as a myth. Being overweight is a strong risk factor for a broad range of diseases from hypertension, to heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and The National Cancer Institute at the U.S. National Institutes of health has stated clearly that “Obesity is associated with increased risks of cancers of the esophagus, breast (postmenopausal), endometrium (the lining of the uterus), colon and rectum, kidney, pancreas, thyroid, gallbladder, and possibly other cancer types.”
- Diabetes- The real cause of disrupted insulin function and insulin sensitivity is actually intramyocellular lipids; fat globules within cell walls that interfere with normal cellular metabolism. These all originate as dietary fats.
** Saturated Fats and Trans Fats are two important subgroups in the world of fats, worthy of special mention. These two types of fats carry all of the concerns listed above, but also carry additional risks as well. These risks are so great that the The U.S. Institute of Medicine has not set upper dietary limits for either saturated fat or trans fat, because any intake level above zero increases risk of coronary heart disease.
a) Saturated Fats– Animal-based foods are the primary source of saturated fats. Any intake level above zero increases LDL, the bad cholesterol. The connection between heart disease and saturated fat are extremely well established. Saturated fats have been also linked to breast cancer, colorectal, endometrial, ovary, and prostate cancers.
b) Trans Fats are the absolute worst type of fat, with absolutely no redeeming health qualities. There are no safe dietary levels for trans fats. Animal-based foods, along with junk foods are the primary sources of trans fats in our diet. As mentioned, trans fats are seen in the processed food industry in margarines and a wide range of junk and processed foods. They typically appear on ingredient lists as ‘hydrogenated’ fats. These should be avoided like the plague. They are manufactured only for aesthetic reasons, but should be regarded as a dangerous substance, not fit for human consumption. The trans fats found in animal products are only marginally better.
- Cholesterol- Higher cholesterol levels are clearly linked to poorer health outcomes. Elevated blood cholesterol levels are the greatest risk factor for heart disease, the number one killer in North America. The S. Institute of Medicine has not set upper limits for cholesterol consumption, because any intake level above zero increases LDL, the bad cholesterol. As mentioned previously, the only dietary source of cholesterol is from animal foods (all meat including fish, all dairy, and eggs). Higher cholesterol levels have also been linked to greater overall incidence of cancer[vi], and in fact, cancer has been found to feed on cholesterol. Plant-based foods on the other hand contain NO cholesterol. The only dietary source of cholesterol is animal foods (all meat, all dairy and eggs). Our bodies actually manufacture all of our cholesterol needs so we have absolutely no need to consume cholesterol in our diet.
- Research has shown that animal-based proteins are associated with a significantly increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis) and are actually cancer promoters[vii] (as opposed to cancer initiators). Researchers were able to turn cancer tumour growth on and off simply by increasing or reducing the amount of animal proteins in the diet of experimental lab animals from 5% to 15%[viii]. This is well within the normal range for North American protein consumption. Plant-based proteins do not have this effect on cancer growth. This topic is discussed in detail in The China Study.
- Carnatine, Choline and TMAO. All animal foods contain carnitine. Our own bodies actually produce carnitine. However, just like there is no dietary need for cholesterol, there is no dietary requirement for carnitine either. More is not better! Within 24 hours of dietary carnitine consumption, gut bacteria metabolize the carnitine to a toxic substance called trimethylamine, which then gets oxidized in our liver to trimethylamine-n-oxide (TMAO), which then circulates throughout our bloodstream. TMAO is involved in the buildup of cholesterol in the inflammatory cells in the atherosclerotic plaques in our arteries, increasing our risk of heart attack, stroke, and death. Plant-based eaters (vegans) do not develop the bacteria in their gut to produce TMAO, so are able to metabolize carnitine and choline without producing TMAO. Unfortunately, TMAO has also been linked to some cancers including prostate cancer. Choline consumption is associated not just with getting cancer and spreading cancer, but also with a significantly increased risk of dying from it. In one study, men who ate the most choline had a 70% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer. Choline is so concentrated in cancer cells that if you follow choline uptake, you can track the spread of cancer throughout the body. (Note that egg producers promote choline as one of the benefits of eating eggs, while current research suggests that we should, in fact, be concerned about choline in our diet.
- The Dangers of Eating Within the Animal Kingdom- By eating fellow animals, we are exposed not only to contractible animal diseases, but we are also ingesting animal tissues that our body may mistake as our own (the hallmark of autoimmune diseases). Eating outside of our kingdom (the animal kingdom) may not only help to protect us from a host of autoimmune diseases, but also from many other diseases that can be transmitted from animal to animal (yes we are animals). The risk of animal flesh exposure is well established. Decades of research shows higher cancer rates in butchers, slaughterhouse workers, meat cutters, and people working in meat processing plants. Conversely, diseases that affect plants rarely affect humans. Eating outside of the animal kingdom dramatically reduces the changes of acquiring food borne illness such as salmonella. This nasty bacteria causes more hospitalizations and more deaths than any other food borne illness, causing causes a million cases of food poisoning every year in the U.S. Chicken is the number one cause of Salmonella Salmonella contamination is also a problem in the U.S. egg supply, sickening more than 100,000 people every year. Other pathogens in meat include Yersinia enterocolitica in pork (Yersinia in Pork), Staphylococcus (U.S. Meat Supply Flying at Half Staph), MRSA (MRSA in U.S. Retail Meat), Hepatitis E (Hepatitis E Virus in Pork), bladder-infecting E coli (Avoiding Chicken To Avoid Bladder Infections), Clostridium difficile (Toxic Megacolon Superbug), and Campylobacter, the most common bacterial chicken pathogen (Poultry and Paralysis). In addition to the matter of pathogens, avoiding animal products also does us the favour of keeping antibiotics and hormones off our dinner plates.
What important nutritional constituents are lacking in animal foods?
13. Antioxidants– Free radicals are highly reactive molecules linked to cellular damage, premature aging, cancer and a host of other pathologies. Plant-based food is rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals in the body. Animal foods, on the other hand, have very low antioxidant values. On average, plants have 64 times more antioxidants than animal foods. The average antioxidant level of plants is above 1000 units while many animal food scores in the single digits, with the rest typically scoring in the teens. Click here to learn about the most powerful antioxidant vegetables, and click here to learn about the most powerful antioxidant fruits.
14. Fibre– Plant-based food contains fibre, a non-digestible complex carbohydrate which is extremely important for bowel health, cholesterol reduction, weight maintenance, blood sugar maintenance, and nutrient absorption. Eating a diet that is high in fiber preferentially feeds the fiber eating bacteria in the gut, generating multiple health promoting substances like short-chain fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Although people may perceive some animal flesh as fibrous, animal foods contain NO fibre.
15. Phytic Acid (phytate) has been reported to prevent kidney stone formation, protect against diabetes mellitus, dental cavities, and heart disease as well as against a variety of cancers. Of all the things phytates can do, the anticancer activity of phytic acid, also known as IP6 or inositol hexaphosphate, is considered one of its most important beneficial activities. Phytic acid is not present in meat and dairy products. It is found in highest concentration in beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.
16. Anti-Angiogenic Factors- A current strategy for fighting cancer centres on preventing development of a blood supply to existing tumours (known as angiogenesis). Tumours need a blood supply to grow. A tumour mass cannot exist in the body with a volume greater than about size of the ball at the tip of a ballpoint pen without a proper blood supply. Many plant-based foods are strongly anti-angiogenic, meaning that they prevent development of new blood vessels. There are no known anti-angiogenic agents in animal-based foods. In fact, they tend to promote angiogenesis, rather than prevent it. Adoption of a vegan (plant-based) diet has been proposed as a strategy to battle cancer.
17. Plant-based eating confers generalized body-wide health benefits. This is not because of any one constituent in plant foods, but because of what T. Colin Campbell refers to as the symphony of millions of nutrients all working together. Studies show that persons eating plant-based foods see rapid improvement in many important heath risk measures such as:
- body mass index (BMI)
- blood pressure (less hypertension)
- total cholesterol
- LDL (bad) cholesterol and
- Improved blood sugar
18. For the same reasons, plant-based eaters are far less likely to develop diabetes. Click here for and additional video on diabetes. Clinical studies by Dr. Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found that most cases of type 2 diabetes improve dramatically following a plant-based diet.
19. Plant-based eaters are also far less likely to have heart attacks. In addition, plant-based eaters are less likely to develop less atherosclerosis and heart disease. Clinical studies performed by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn have shown that adherence to a strict whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet can arrest and even reverse heart disease. Esselstyn’s 2014 study proved that a WFPB diet was 100 times more effective in preventing cardiac events in persons with coronary artery disease over a 3 ½ year period! No drug can claim to arrest heart disease, let alone reverse it. Furthermore drugs typically boast figures like 20-30% improvement in cardiac events. Improvements by a factor of ten are unheard of let alone a factor of one hundred! So, we can see that following a whole food plant-based diet makes one less susceptible to a host of circulatory-related conditions ranging from angina, to dementia, chronic kidney disease, mesenteric ischemia (belly pain after eating), transient ischemic attack in the brain (TIA), peripheral artery disease (intermittent claudication), erectile dysfunction, circulatory related vision and hearing loss, all of which are caused by reduced blood flow to that specific region of the body. The reduced blood flow from atherosclerosis not only affects vascular tissue, but also affects non-vascular tissue as well such as tendons, ligaments, intervertebral disks, cartilage, and fascia and is therefore a suspected cause of a sizable percentage of soft tissue pain including back and shoulder pain.
20. Plant-based eating is associated with cancer prevention, and less incidence of cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends a plant-centred diet. Greater adherence to the AICR dietary guidelines was associated with significantly less breast, endometrial, colorectal, lung, kidney, stomach, oral, liver, and esophageal cancer. AICR recommendation #10 is that cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention, meaning that the same diet that can help prevent cancer in the first place can be used to help save your life after diagnosis. Here is a quote from the American Institute of Cancer Research website, “Wherever we go, friends and family members are talking about Colin Campbell’s book, The China Study. They ask us our take on the documentary Forks Over Knives, which keys off of The China Study and shows people taking greater control over their health by turning away from the traditional meat-centered, high-sugar American meal and adopting healthier, plant-based diets. This increased awareness of the importance of plant-based eating is something all of us at AICR welcome.” “… our bottom-line message is the same: Diets that revolve around whole plant foods – vegetables, whole grains, fruits and beans – cut the risk of many cancers, and other diseases as well. This advice has been translated into AICR’s 10 Recommendations for Cancer Prevention.” http://www.aicr.org/about/advocacy/the-china-study.html
The following quote from Eric Rimm, a nutritional epidemiologist from Harvard University is quite illuminating, humorous, and troubling all at the same time. He was explaining why after government-sanctioned Institute of Medicine panel found that trans-fatty acids (found in all meat and dairy foods) raise cholesterol, that they decided not to advise limits on consumption of these products. Rimm said,
“We can’t tell people to stop eating all meat and all dairy products! Well, we could tell people to, become vegetarians. If we were truly basing this only on science, we would recommend no meat consumption”. – Eric Rimm
(Hmmm… we wouldn’t want scientists basing their public statements on science now would we?)
This is an example of why we don’t hear more healthy plant-based messages from the media, from levels of government, and from the scientific community. Even the scientists, whose job it is to seek out truth are afraid of rocking the boat. Of course one other big factor is that the meat, dairy and egg industry is collectively a multi-billion dollar industry. As a result, we would expect them to vigorously defend their market share through lobbying and political pressure, through advertising and media pressure, and by finding sympathetic voices within the scientific community to speak for them. This is one big reason why the message of plant-based eating is not getting out.
Another factor working against adoption of this way of eating is the human tendency to not rock the boat; to continue doing what we have been doing for years as a form of habit. There are also cultural pressures that tend to keep people eating the same diet, even when it has been proven unhealthy for them. There is also the other matter of taste, and there is no denying that a big fat juicy steak on the BBQ sounds very enticing. However, in this article we are exploring the science of nutrition; not the politics, nor the ethics, nor the cultural aspects, nor the hedonism or addiction attached to eating. The science clearly points to consuming as few meat products as possible if you want improved health outcomes, and a higher quality of life, and a longer life. It is likely no coincidence that the exact same dietary recommendations that reduce our risk of developing cancer are also significantly associated with improved outcomes in many other areas such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and back pain. This is clearly the diet that our body will thrive on. While there is no treatment or diet that is a panacea for disease, it seems abundantly clear that no dietary eating pattern can correct so many illnesses and can save so many lives as whole food, plant-based diet. It is amazingly powerful!
If you are thinking of beginning on a plant-based diet and want to know where to begin, a great resource is Dr. John McDougall’s site at https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/free-mcdougall-program/ . There you will find lots of free advice and free recipes to get you started. If you want to learn more on this massive topic, then a good place to begin is by following some of the links provided in this article.
The China Study is recommended background reading for anyone with an interest in this topic. The book was written by T. Colin Campbell, Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, and his son Thomas M. Campbell II, a physician. It is one of America’s best-selling books on nutrition. The China Study examines the relationship between the consumption of animal products and chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancers of the breast, prostate and bowel. Based on extensive research, the authors conclude that people who eat a whole-food, plant-based/vegan diet—avoiding all animal products, and reducing their intake of processed foods and refined carbohydrates—will escape, reduce or reverse the development of numerous diseases.
The basis for The China Study was the China-Cornell-Oxford Project, a 20-year study – described by The New York Times as “the Grand Prix of epidemiology” – conducted by the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, Cornell University and the University of Oxford. T. Colin Campbell was one of the study’s directors. This study looked at mortality rates from cancer and other chronic diseases from 1973–75 in 65 counties in China; the data was correlated with 1983–84 dietary surveys and blood work from 100 people in each county. The research was conducted in those counties because they had genetically similar populations that tended, over generations, to live and eat in the same way in the same place. The study concluded that counties with a high consumption of animal-based foods in 1983–84 were more likely to have had higher death rates from “Western” diseases as of 1973–75, while the opposite was true for counties that ate more plant foods.
The information above was compiled by Brian Fulton, a Registered Massage Therapist working in the Niagara area with a passionate interest in whole food, plant-based eating. The information provided is not intended as medical advice, but rather is an assemblage of evidence-based information on the topic of whole food, plant-based eating as a pathway to health. If you have questions about your health, be sure to address them to your primary health care provider.
[i] The China Study. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Thomas M. Campbell II, M.D. BenBella Books, Dallas TX, January 2005. page 87
[ii] Kelsey JL, Gammon MD, John EM. “Reproductive factors and breast cancer” Epidemiol Revs. 15 (1993): 36-47
[iii] De Stavola BL, Wang DY, Allen DS, Giaconi J, Fentiman IS, Reed MJ, Bulbrook RD, Hayward JL. “The association of height, weight, menstrual and reproductive events with breast cancer:results fro two prospective studies on the island of Guernsey (UK).” Cancer Causes and Control 4 (1993): 331-340
[iv] Rautalahti M, Albanes D, Virtamo J, Palmgren J, Haukka J, Heinonen OP. “Lifetime menstrual activity-indicator of breast cancer risk” Eur J Epidemiol (1993): 17-25
[v] All meat values are for uncooked meat since cooking can increase or decrease the fat content depending upon preparation method. All values are drawn from USDA database, and a standard energy conversion of 9 calories per gram of fat was used to obtain calories from fat. http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome
[vi] The China Study. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Thomas M. Campbell II, M.D. BenBella Books, Dallas TX, January 2005. pg. 77-81
[vii] The China Study. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Thomas M. Campbell II, M.D. BenBella Books, Dallas TX, January 2005. pg. 36-37
[viii] Inhibition of aflatoxin-initiated preneoplastic liver lesions by low dietary protein. Appleton BS, Campbell TC. Nutr Cancer. 1982;3(4):200-6.