I just received an email from a vegan chef, touting the new movie with T. Colin Campbell, “Forks Over Knives“. Why someone would send ME a link to a vegan propaganda movie is beyond me, but then again it fueled the fire for this blog post… Anyway, T. Colin Campbell is the guy behind the China Study, both the actual study and the popular book by that name. It’s one of the latest anti-meat campaigns, claiming that protein in general causes all sorts of cancers.
If there’s one thing in this world that sends me into a raging fit of frustration and despair, it’s comments like, “Most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.” You can find that little snippet of wisdom right below the trailer for “Forks Over Knives”. Yes, the processed foods can go, and even the processed, animal-based foods. But what does Campbell suppose we lived off of when there were no grocery stores around to supply us with enough grains, fruits and vegetables to meet our (minimum) protein needs: NOT MEAT?
I live in Boulder, CO, which is probably the vegan capital of the country. I haven’t verified that because I’d rather not know for sure. Our Whole Foods was at one point plastered with signs promoting the banishment of meat from all shoppers’ diets. I noticed the signs on my way to the meat counter. I’m pretty sure that little stunt had something to do with the China Study book, since I also saw IT hanging out all over the store, too.
In this vegan-steeped city, I’ve overheard more than one sallow-looking, overweight, prematurely aging woman tell her friend how she doesn’t allow her growing children (who have a high need for protein) to eat meat, even if they want it. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about meat – about the fact that it’s bad for you.
There’s a whole slew of flawed research that has led us to this frenzied point, including studies that have used food-like substances to pass as the study diet. I’ve never heard of a single anti-meat/anti-saturated fat study that uses anything but grain-fed, antibiotic and chemically laden, super fatty cuts of meat as the basis of the diets, if they use meat at all in their studies. I wonder what would happen if they used wild game or pasture-raised meats. And don’t forget about the studies that have completely blown marginally significant results out of proportion, while ignoring other significant results that would have nullified their claims. The China Study is no better than any of them.
While I thought (delusionally) that the China Study had been thoroughly debunked here, here, here, and here, I am clearly living in a fantasy world, considering Campbell has a movie coming out. That guy has convinced America that meat is bad because he found that casein, a milk protein, may have had a positive correlation with some cancers. From there, he did a huge human population study in China, the results of which he selectively highlighted in his book in order to make the most convincing argument against meat.
Basically, he was still only working with the fact that casein was maybe correlated with some cancers (there are other constituents in milk, by the way, that are anti-cancer, not that I’m even a milk proponent…), and thus extrapolated that all protein is bad for us. There are so many glaring faults with that study: misrepresentation of data, lack of data and broad assumptions. But I guess if I conducted a huge study over a 20-year period of time, I’d be tempted to fudge data to make it seem like the study was worthwhile, too. I highly recommend you read this very comprehensive response to the study, especially if you’re like me, and everyone around you seems to be citing the China Study as the reason they’re now depriving their kids of their much needed protein.
There is no dearth of “research” out there to convince you that you shouldn’t eat too much meat. There’s the saturated fat “issue”, the cholesterol “problem”, the matter of the antibiotics and pesticides in meat (totally valid), and of course the detriment that conventional factory farming has on the earth (also heinous). Beyond that, though, I also get this question a lot: “But isn’t eating too much protein bad for you?” I want to clear that up for you all.
On one side of the meat debate are Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dean Ornish and others in the low protein camp, and on the high protein team, there are all of our favorites: Cordain, Wolf, Eades, and many others. They could literally hash this debate out until the cows come home (ha ha!), but in my opinion, the truth is that they’re all sort of right. Sort of. Hear me out.
Some of us are more well-suited for a lower protein, higher carb diet than others. It depends on our genetics and what blood sugar damage we’ve done to our bodies through the years. But others absolutely thrive on a higher protein/fat and lower carb diet, much like most of our ancestors did. The reason all of the researchers and authors on both sides of the argument may be seeing results from their patients and research subjects is probably because all of their diets omit processed foods and refined sugars, which (along with grains of course) are the banes of industrialized society. They all tout vegetables as being incredibly important, which they are, and they all encourage people not to overeat.
So whether you eat a lot of protein or not, if you’re coming off of the standard American diet to any of the cleaner, whole foods, low sugar, higher nutrient diets, you’re probably going to see some improvements in your health. That does NOT mean, though, that you will attain optimal health. I am part of Paleo Plan because I believe that for most people, a higher protein, grainless, dairy-less diet is the way to go. I obviously don’t think that a “high” protein diet is bad for you, since the Paleo diet falls into this category.
I’ll tell you exactly why in the next post…