Six years ago a small Texas publisher released an obscure book written by a father-son research team. The work, based on a series of studies conducted in rural China and Taiwan, challenged the conventional wisdom about health and nutrition by espousing the benefits of a plant-based diet.
To everyone's surprise, the book, called "The China Study," has since sold 500,000 copies, making it one of the country's best-selling nutrition titles. The book focuses on the knowledge gained from the China Study, a 20-year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine that showed high consumption of animal-based foods is associated with more chronic disease, while those who ate primarily a plant-based diet were the healthiest.
Last fall, former President Bill Clinton even cited the book in explaining how he lost 24 pounds by converting to a plant-based diet in hopes of improving his heart health. The president gave up dairy, switching to almond milk, and says he lives primarily on beans and other legumes, vegetables and fruit, although he will, on rare occasions, eat fish.
Recently, I spoke with T. Colin Campbell, a co-author of the book and professor emeritus at Cornell University, about the success of the book, the research behind it, and why he thinks the nation's health woes can be solved by plant-based eating.
Here's our conversation.