The Plant-Based Diet: Is Meat Good for You?
By Mary Desaulniers
Imagine this scenario: your 12 month old baby is fussing because
it is past his feeding time. You warm up his bottle of regular
whole milk. No more infant formula. He looks healthy. You are
feeding him well and you feel proud!
Wait a minute! There is something wrong with this picture.
It is the cow's milk--the milk we all consume on a daily
basis--1%, 2%,homogenized milk. White and seemingly so good for
Not so, says Dr. T. Colin Campbell Ph.D, Professor Emeritus of
Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University who has authored
more than 350 research papers. He is also Winner of the 1998
American Institute of Cancer Research Award, the 2004 Burton
Kallman Scientific Award by the Natural Nutrition Food
In "The China Study," (Benbella Books, 2005), he presents the
findings of a 45 year study and a 20-year partnership of Cornell
University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of
Preventive Medicine. And what is startling about the conclusions
of his study is that cow's milk ( 87% of which is made of the
protein casein) actually encourages the growth of cancer cells
in rats and humans. The China Study shows unequivocally that all
meat is suspect: "nutrients from animal-based foods increased
tumor development" while "nutrients from plant-based foods
decreased tumor development."
What initiated Dr. Campbell's study was not an attempt to
justify vegetarianism. In fact, Dr. Campbell grew up as a farm
boy in northern Virginia. For most of his life, he ate the
typical North American diet--high in animal proteins, meat,
eggs, whole milk, butter. But evidence from his own research
pointed such an accusing finger at animal protein that he and
his family adopted the plant-based diet fifteen years ago.
In the mid 1960's, Dr. Campbell was recruited to the Philippines
to develop a protein source for malnourished children. His
interest then was on a protein source that was local and
affordable--peanuts. However, the peanuts were often
contaminated with "aflatoxin" which caused liver cancer in rats
and humans. This led to a series of studies and tests which
showed some surprising results:
- the children who developed liver cancer from the nuts came from
the best-fed ( most affluent) families;
- these children consumed more protein than anyone else in the
country( high quality animal protein) ;
- in studies on rats exposed to aflatoxin, only the animals fed
20% protein developed the cancer while those fed 5% got none;
- reversing the diet of rats that developed cancer ( from 20% to
5% protein) caused a reduction in tumor development; in rats(
initially fed 5% protein), whose dietary protein was increased
to 20%, there was an increase in tumor development.
- The dietary protein used in these experiments was animal
protein--casein from cow's milk. When the same experiment was
repeated with plant protein (Soy or Wheat), no cancer growth was
discovered, even at the highest levels of protein intake. Rats
fed 20% Soy Protein or Wheat Protein diets did not experience
early tumor development at all. The cancer promoting factor was
cow's milk protein.
Even though these studies were performed on rats, the results
were relevant for humans. In a subsequent study on the Chinese
diet, Dr. Campbell made several crucial observations between
meat-based diets and disease.
- Cancer ( colon, lung, breast, stomach), diabetes, heart disease
are all diseases of the affluent. These are also mainly diseases
of the Western world where consumption of meat is high.
- As blood cholesterol levels in rural China rose in certain
counties, the incidence of Western or Affluent diseases also
- As intakes of animal protein went up, blood cholesterol levels
rose; intakes of plant-based protein brought down blood
- Lower blood cholesterol levels are linked to lower rates not
only of heart disease, but of cancer, and other Western
diseases, even though these levels seemed far below those
considered "safe" in the West.
What are some of the lessons we can gather from Dr. Campbell's
Minimize Refined Carbohydrates ( white bread, crackers, sugars,
cakes etc), Added Oils ( olive oil, peanut oil), Fish ( salmon ,
Avoid Meat and meat products, Poultry, Dairy, Eggs.
The facts are there and it is up to us either to ignore them or
do something with them in our own lives. Nothing, however,
speaks more powerfully than Dr. Campbell's final words :
"We, as a society, are on the edge of a great precipice: we can
fall to sickness, poverty and degradation, or we can embrace
health, longevity and bounty. And all it takes is the courage to
About the author:
A runner for 27 years, retired schoolteacher and writer, Mary is
now doing what she loves--running,writing,helping people reclaim
their bodies. Nutrition, exercise, positive vision and
purposeful engagement are the tools used to turn their bodies
into creative selves. You can subscribe to Mary's newsletter by
contacting her at GreatBodyafter50secrets.com or
visit her at GreatBodyat50.com