January Vegan aka The China Study

For the first time this year, going home for the holidays meant two 5 1/2 hour plane rides instead of a 20 minute car trip. Along with in-flight VirginAmerica tv on demand, this meant I finally had enough down time to read The China Study, a book cited by many vegetarian/vegans as their reason for giving up meat products.

Refreshingly, the author makes virtually no mention of the humanitarian reasons to give up meat, and doesn’t speak at all to slaughterhouse practices, sanitary concerns, etc. Not that those things aren’t important or moving, it’s just that I’ve already heard all that before and it obviously hasn’t made a significant impact on my diet.

Instead, the premise is much more scientific (as you’ve probably grasped by the title). It details the author’s extensive research into how diet affects disease in the human body, specifically focusing on cancer. Along the way, you get a peak into the sometimes scary inner workings of the nutrition industry in the United States. Food pyramid anyone?

Dr. Campbell himself grew up on a farm with the traditional meat and dairy-centric diet, and used to be a big proponent of the Standard American Diet (SAD). What he discovered after administering questionnaires and blood tests on 6,500 adults in sixty-five counties across China changed his career and his life. He found more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet and disease, which are detailed in the book, along with research from other studies he and his colleagues conducted.

Sounds like pretty dry stuff, but I was fascinated. I wouldn’t call it an easy read by any means, but you can easily concentrate on the areas you’re most interested in, and skim through the parts not as related. If you or a family member suffers from cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, or heart disease (and unfortunately, chances are you do) I would call The China Study an absolutely mandatory read. In any event, it’s already changed my life.

For the month of January, I’m going 100% vegan. In Dr. Campbell’s book, he asks just one month of following these restrictions from his readers. “You’ve been eating cheeseburgers your whole life; a month without them won’t kill you.” Well I haven’t been eating cheeseburgers, but I have been enjoying Shrimpies Casserole, Tilapia Piccata, and homemade gravy made from turkey giblets. Just last night, I happily scarfed down some fantastic sushi and had to declare the veganism adventure officially delayed by one day.

But now it’s begun. And there’s no turning back. I have some new cookbooks to help me and already planned out some exciting meals for the next week. Rest assured, there will still be plenty of good food ahead. To some extent, I’m planning to follow Dr. Campbell’s advice and “not obsess over it.” If something has non-vegan worchestire sauce in it, I’m not going crazy and demanding something else. That being said, this morning I discovered my favorite potato salad from the cafe down the street has mayo in it, and I passed. I already feel good about it.

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11 responses to “January Vegan aka The China Study

  1. Ohh I am excited about your recipes! YAY!!

    The book sounds very interesting, I have read Dr. Weil’s books, Crazy Sexy Cancer, and subscribe to Dr. Merola, all which remind me of your description of this study.

    I do find it interesting that they came up with a vegan diet from China. While in China I could not, not eat meat. While dairy and cheese were obviously not seen anywhere, vegetables were plentiful, as was meat. But the meat there was not the focal point of the meals, as where in America I feel it is. Talking to my Friend’s wife in china she could not believe in America “the man eats a big steak for dinner and women have a small steak.” All the food there is FRESH, you buy food for that day right on the street. You aren’t buying for a week or whatever, nothing is packaged or Processed. I also saw that they eat SO much in China, but they are SOO much more active then us. And the use of chopsticks make meals last much longer and I think it allows you to really only pick up correct portions sizes.
    They ride their bike everywhere, walk and they have free public gym “playgrounds” all over the place. Anyways I am adding this book to my must read list!

    • Wow, Amber, YOU will especially love the book in that case. As you’ll read it, I’m sure you’ll see many things you recognize. Thanks so much for all that insight – so interesting.

  2. I’d love to read this book. I might try to find an audio copy of it for our long drive home next week.

    I just started a one-month vegan challenge myself! We can provide support for each other! Can’t wait to see your meals and recipes!

  3. Good for you for trying this! I’m so excited to read about your month of veganism!

  4. I came across your post and want to give you encouragement to go vegan and also congratulate you on making the commitment to do so. The China Study was one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read, even after being vegan for 12+ years. I need to review it myself on my blog, b/c I think it’s a book everyone should read if they are remotely interested in their health. Good luck – you can do it!

    p.s. lentils deserve lovin’!

  5. Good luck with the veganism trial!!! I became vegetarian Oct 2009 and went vegan a month later, but when I am out of the house I compromise at vegetarian to make it easier on hosts and my husband, who thinks it’s crazy to forgo dairy. So I say I am veg*n, which stands for either vegetarian or vegan, and that I am a vegetarian with strong vegan leanings . . . I eat all vegan at home – I don’t FEEL as good physically when I have dairy – I am lactose intolerant anyway) but it keeps the peace so I eat it sometimes.

    It’s actually been really fun finding new recipes and trying new foods that the SAD doesn’t explore.

    • I’ve been wondering after this month how much compromising will need to happen “out of house.” I think I’ll probably end up eating seafood (oysters mmm) when there’s no vegan options available, but I want to go total vegan for this month as an experiment.

  6. Pingback: Vegan Grocery Shop « Let Them Eat Lentils

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