Reading the China Study

China Study coverThe subtitle of the China Study uses the term, “Startling Implications.” This is no hyperbole. The implications of the multiple studies that are outlined in this book are indeed startling. There were several points in the book at which I can remember feeling that it all seemed too good to be true. Could diet truly be the answer to curing our most fearsome diseases–heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer? The evidence seemed irrefutable.

I set the book aside thinking that this was astounding truth. Yet, I had no idea what to do with it. If I gave up meat and dairy, what would I eat? The thought made my mind reel. My typical breakfast consisted of either a scrambled egg and toast, or a bowl of cereal doused in milk. What would I eat for breakfast? Dry cereal? I thought that maybe I could start making hot cereal with water, but it didn’t sound very appetizing.

If planning  an animal product free breakfast was difficult, dinner was a nightmare. On the weekend, when I planned my weekly dinner menu, I began with the general outline—Sunday was pork, Monday was spaghetti with ground turkey, Tuesday was a chicken night, and so forth. How would I even begin to plan meals without meat? I put aside the idea, thinking that it certainly merited consideration, but I didn’t have time to figure it out now.

During my next doctor appointment, I was left with a medical student who was shadowing my physician. He had asked me a series of questions and taken my vitals, and now we were both waiting for the doctor to arrive. While I had this captive medical student in the room, I asked if he had heard about The China Study. He said that he had. I asked if he’d read the book. He had not, but was familiar with the study itself. I asked what he thought about it. He said that there seemed a lot of merit in eating lots of vegetables and fruits, but moderation was always best.

I went away feeling that this was wise counsel. It felt familiar, and therefore comforting as it always does feel to be confirmed in what you believed all along. It was comforting to think that I wouldn’t have to make any “drastic” changes in diet. I could eat more vegetables and fruits in order to get the health benefits, but still plan my meals around moderate amounts of meat and dairy. Nevertheless, the thought kept nagging me that if moderation were the answer, then my husband’s health should have been improved by the way we had been eating for several months. It had not.

The China Study stayed with me as a lingering refrain behind a lot of misinformation, wishful thinking, and my own failure to realize that I had been programed by my culture in ways that were wreaking havoc with my family’s health.

It was not until several months later, when I had been thoroughly convinced of the benefits of a whole foods, plant based diet, that I revisited the book. I was amazed again at how much ground the book covers in so few pages. All I needed at that point was to have someone point me in the direction of recipes that I could use to begin healing my family.


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