I’ve presented hundreds of diet and health lectures over the last 20 to 30 years, mostly concerning the exceptional health benefits of a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) dietary lifestyle. The world of diet and health is littered with claims and counterclaims, but a tipping point for the WFPB idea is beginning to peer above the din. Interest in this extraordinary way of achieving health is gaining unprecedented momentum. Many are wondering why they have not heard this before, while others are anxious to get started, wanting to know how best to do it. As this interest grows, questions naturally arise about the supporting evidence, in part because this idea challenges long-held, almost sacred assumptions and practices.
It is extremely important, therefore, that discussion of this evidence be articulated in a way that is, first and foremost, true to its scientific foundation. The evidence is both compelling and promising because it points a way to resolve a broad range of difficult societal problems. These problems are complex, collectively defining the human condition, both private and public. As much as any other consideration, and perhaps surprising to many, deciding what to eat goes a long way toward solving these problems. If this dietary lifestyle is done right, it means maintaining and restoring personal health, minimizing health care costs, preventing environmental degradation, limiting unnecessary violence, and reconfiguring a badly distorted food production economy. Because the root causes of these seemingly diverse problems converge on our food choices, it is paramount to ask what is the evidence for this dietary practice and how is it obtained, understood, and used?
Tom Campbell, MD, my son, is unusually prepared to tackle this question. Trained in arts and communication—theater arts was his major at Cornell University—he joined me in coauthoring The China Study, bringing with him skills that made our book unusually readable and, ultimately, eminently successful. That experience and the exceptionally promising evidence for this dietary lifestyle prompted him to seek a career in medicine, eventually leading to board certification in family medicine. His training in medicine, his in-depth knowledge of nutrition, and, along the way, his experience with patients in his clinic provide an unusually good combination to consider this evidence in a way that works, both for his patients and for his colleagues.
Getting the evidence right especially requires tackling the difficult issues, which generate a marketplace presence and a lot of public discussion but oftentimes with little or no supporting science. I have in mind issues like omega-3 fats (supplements versus foods?), low-carb diets (what kind of “carbs”?), gluten sensitivity (how many people need to care?), fish oil (same as whole fish? or none at all?), wheat and other cereals (good for fat bellies or a source of good fiber?), organic foods (good nutrients or bad chemicals?), and GMO foods (a promise of social good or human health risk?) among others. These are the kinds of topics that Tom clarifies using sound scientific justification.
Aside from his medical practice and his faculty association with the University of Rochester Medical School, Tom also is the executive director of our nonprofit Center for Nutrition Studies and its growing suite of online courses, offered in partnership with the nationally ranked Cornell University online program. Having coauthored The China Study with me and having gained a virtual graduate-level degree (three solid years) in the content and research methodology of nutritional science, Tom brings first-class nutrition information both to the public and to his physician community.
This is a book that you will want in your library. It is well written and contains a fresh and unique perspective on the more nettlesome diet and health issues. Using his writing style and analysis of the evidence, Dr. Campbell avoids a one-sided advocacy approach and instead considers various points of view. And finally the evidence is presented in a way that merges into a very readable
how-to plan for making this evidence work for you, your family, your friends, your community, and the planet that we all occupy.
This way of eating and living is exceedingly important, both here and now and in the future. It must be made available to the public, but it must be articulated in a way that informs and is reliable. The China Study Solutiondoes just that. So please turn a page and see what I am talking about. I believe you’ll like its scientific perspective, its practical advice, and its recipes. Your health and well-being stand to benefit enormously.
T. Colin Campbell, PhD