When T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study was released in 2006, it quickly rocketed to best seller status primarily propelled by word of mouth given its small, relatively unknown publisher not exactly renowned for works of scientific rigor.
In short order, The China Study became firmly established as the de facto nutritional bible of the plant based diet posse. A similar phenomenon has occurred with the 2017 release of the Netflix documentary What The Health.
“Just read The China Study!” became the new vegan mantra, confidently and often scornfully spoken to anyone who questioned Campbell’s startling contention that all animal foods, regardless of the source or processing, are responsible for the modern epidemics of cancer and heart disease.
No matter whether your animal food of choice is a KFC Value Pack or wild caught salmon, Campbell claims that you would be better off shunning all sources of animal foods and instead embracing a diet of whole plant foods.
Denise Minger of rawfoodsos has suggested that Campbell’s Ivy League PhD and his authorship of over 300 scientific papers combined with The China Study‘s long list of references make it appear credible. With such an impressive list of credentials and sources, the stern warnings against animal foods must be grounded in factual, objective scientific analysis, right?
At first blush, The China Study seems so utterly credible – so bulletproof if you will.
Unfortunately, like much of the nutritional dogma presented today all in the name of supposedly scientific rigor, The China Study is actually far from it with misrepresented data the order of the day.
Perhaps the biggest hole in Campbell’s work is one that he identified himself in one of his own scientific papers published only two years before The China Study. Despite Campbell’s claim that near vegan rural Chinese exhibit superior health to those consuming animal foods, the paper concludes from the epidemiological survey of 6500 subjects from 65 rural counties in China:
“it is the largely vegetarian, inland communities who have the greatest all risk mortalities and morbidities and who have the lowest LDL cholesterols.”
Whoops! Campbell finds that “… the protective effect of fish consumption as validated by red cell DHA is universal.” It doesn’t look like that large epidemiological analysis known as The China Study is so compelling regarding the benefits of plant based diets after all! Pretty hard to get sick if you’re actually already dead, right?
Now, a new study involving over one hundred thousand subjects further bolsters the argument that animal proteins are not the ticking time bomb to your health so erroneously argued by Campbell.
Meat Eating Inversely Associated with Death from Cancer and Heart Disease
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published in July 2013 the results of a huge analysis of ecological data from the United Nations comparing country-specific meat consumption in Asia, specifically the countries of Bangladesh, China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.
112,310 men and 184,411 women were followed for 6.6 to 15.6 years. During that time, 24,283 all-cause, 9558 cancer, and 6373 cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths were recorded.
The researchers concluded that while meat intake in Asian countries has increased in recent years, there was no evidence of a higher risk of mortality as a result. In fact, the analysis provided evidence of an inverse association with red meat, poultry, and fish/seafood consumption and cardiovascular mortality in men and cancer mortality in women!
This means that higher meat consumption has actually been correlated with fewer heart disease deaths in Asian men and fewer cancer deaths in Asian women:
“Red meat intake was inversely associated with CVD mortality in men and with cancer mortality in women in Asian countries.”
It seems the vegan bible has suffered yet another blow to its cherry picked conclusions. Unlike The China “Study”, this large analysis of Asian ecological data is a Real Study published in a Real (peer-reviewed) Scientific Journal. Not a blockbuster work of fiction designed to sell books through promotion of outrageous black and white nutritional propaganda.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
The China Study Myth
Meat intake and cause-specific mortality: a pooled analysis of Asian prospective cohort studies
Fish consumption, blood docosahexaenoic acid and chronic diseases in Chinese rural populations
Erythrocyte fatty acids, plasma lipids, and cardiovascular disease in rural China
Where you eating any sweets, high glycemic, or processed foods? Gout is typically caused by the overconsumption of sugar and LDL levels are not significant markers for mortality.
Why is it that vegans tend to automatically assume that anyone who eats meat MUST be eating processed foods, fast food and lots of sweets?
I started a vegan diet last April and continued on it until July. During that time, i went off all medications ( Allopurinol, for gout and Crestor for high colesterol). After July, we went off the vegan diet and started introducing non vegan foods into our food plan. I am back on colsterol medicine, but not on allopurinol. I have not eaten red meat since April and have not had a gout attack since. I know that red meat is a no no if you have gout. And I can tell you that no gout attack is great (especially for those who have gout, they no my pain or no pain). I believe red meat is the cause of my attacks and one less med to take is worth no more attacks. I believe the vegan diet does work, it is just hard to give up all those other foods. I did lose weight and my blood work numbers were better.
I am so glad that I found your blog. I am looking to start doing health and wellness coaching and I am going to need a place to point people that want information about real nutrition. I am so tired of reading information about “fake” nutrition and seeing all these magazines and government sponsored studies that are telling people to eat more processed grains, margarine, and low fat junk instead of telling them to get back to healthy, natural foods including free range meat and dairy and real, non-GMO vegetables and fruits.
After going the vegetarian route for 5 years, and gaining a mouthful of cavities, I am back to an omnivorous diet, and feeling great. I’ve been thinking a lot about my meat eating with regards to my spiritual path, and recently wrote a post on this.
If you’re interested in the Omnivore vs. Vegetarian/Vegan dilemma, I invite you to check it out:
Thanks for your incredible blog, it’s in my top 3!
I think more research needs to be done to explain the whole concept in the China study is wrong. Taking the text out of context from ‘Vegan Bible’ and simply giving two examples are just not very convincing.
The way Americans would cook their meat is different from the way asians would cook theirs. The typical american meat is probably deep-fried and has lots of BBQ source on top. Whereas most asians would probably steam the meat instead. Top with garlic (another food that is proved to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer) and soy source. Yum!
For those of you commenting that any criticism of this book is based upon “cherry-picking”… I’d advise you to give a little thought to this fact:
This study is based on a single isolated protein found in milk. This protein is then fed to rats in amounts far exceeding anything you’d see in nature. The conclusion is that all animal products are bad based on this single, isolated protein.
Is that not the very definition of cherry picking?
I just want to say …. thanks a lot……. I followed Weston’s price guidelines for my pregnancy and with my first born to a tee…. Lots of Raw milk, organic eggs, grass fed chicken, beef, liver all of it… My first born was horribly ill because of all of it… He had ear infections every other month, he had strep about 20 times, His teeth decayed and I had to cap all of his teeth….(6000.00 thank you very much) I took him to multiple naturalpaths that support Weston price ideology… Had him tested for vitamin absorption and that was fine… He had the worst exzema. It was frightfull… My family doctor recommended the china study ( and Dr. Furhmans disease proof your child), we where just about to get tubes put in his ears… ( I took out all animal products, and fed him a diet based on GREENS BEANS Onions berries, nuts and seeds. His ear infections vanished ( he is now 6 and hasn’t had one in 4 years) His adult teeth coming in , are perfect and he hasn’t had a cavity in over 2 years… His skin is glowing, he is no longer overweight. He reads at a grade 5 level. I’ve had another baby sense than and maintained a vegan diet ( with b12, Dha , and vitamin d supplementation ) Dr. Furhmans Gentle Prenatel actuelly…. I still breast feed him to this day…. He is 2 and has never had so much as a runny nose…. His teeth are perfect…. He hasn’t even had a fever. He also speaks clear sentences and can count to 20 already…
You shouldn’t knock the vegan diet until you have tried it…. And I think its embarrassing on your part to be quoting Denise Minger… as she has been debunked by every known scientist that reviewed her work…..( she doesn’t even have a degree in nutrition) She studies English… You should be ashamed your going to give all these poor children cancer…. (I’d love to see you debunk the millions of people who beat cancer with vegetables and juicing) Its really sad as Weston price wont touch the connection between IGF1 and cancer…… I never did veganism for ethics, I always thought a diet rich in animal products and vegetables was the perfect diet… then I had kids, and don’t want to see them get sick anymore.
I’m sorry Stephanie, but that sounded like a bunch of malarkey to me.
Yes, something is off here. Did you vaccinate your kids according to the US schedule? If so, that’s likely where the trouble started, especially with allergies and the like. There are no studies on them, after all, despite what we’ve been lead to believe. As well, pasteurized milk is known to cause ear infections.
My biggest bone of contention with “The China Study” and Campbell’s follow-up book “Whole”(which I just read and reviewed on my blog) is that he seems to base all of his animosity towards animal protein on casein isolated from milk. For a man making such a forceful case for a vegan diet based on whole foods, it seems odd to me that he would base his argument on an isolated protein like this when at the same time he argues so strongly against the effectiveness of supplements and in favor of whole foods.
The question I have is if Campbell Is so convinced(as I am) that supplements of isolated nutrients are not effective, why does he think the connection between isolated casein in the diet and cancer is such a convincing and universal argument? I recently made this argument in the blog post “Making The Case For Meat”.
Several indigenous populations in the arctic and Africa have traditional survived and prospered on diets consisting almost entirely of animal protein and fats. They do not suffer from deficiency diseases or heart disease because of their diet. Humans evolved as omnivores just as chickens and pigs did. We can do well on nearly vegan diets and we can also do well an diets of mostly meat and fats.
No doubt Campbell – a vegan himself – skewed the evidence in his favour. But what if the American journal report was cherry picked, too? What if everybody is cherry picking facts to suit their agenda left and right in the scientific community? Who then to trust? I will trust myself, thank you. My body know what it needs and will tell me through desires for certain foods. As long as it’s not super modern industrialized junk, I consider it healthy. I am a vegetarian, though, but I eat caviar and cod liver oil, and all good quality foods.
you are not a vegetarian if you eat caviar and cod liver oil. if you require a label you are a pescatarian.
Yes, this appears to be the case since recently it was reported that about 65% of these so-called “peer reviewed studies” are bogus at best and cannot be replicated. It’s all about who is funding them. That’s why they will tar and feather – since media is also complicit – any doctor speaking against the mainstream narrative, like they did to Dr. Andrew Wakefield – Wikipedia being the absolute worst for their corruptness and utter BS. Nothing they post should ever be considered remotely accurate or true – and the good docs now speaking out about the covid sham also vilified as conspiracy T’s. It’s nothing new, sadly, but they got way too greedy this time and many are hip to their game now., especially the ineffective and unsafe nature of ALL vaccines, not just this “not a vaccine” one, which is why they recently changed the definition of it, to cover their fears. It’s so obvious it’s laughable. Just need to see them all behind bars.