The Chinese, once heralded for their healthy simplistic diet have suddenly begun to lose footing and are now facing the high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity that plague so many American cities- at least that’s what T. Collin Campbell is saying. Campbell, author of The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And The Startling Implications For Diet, Weight Loss and Long Term Health, says the book he wrote for Americans in 2006 is now making another trip back East where it began. He’s even enlisting Chinese celebrities to help him launch a 21 Day Chinese Challenge.
In The China Study, Campbell reveals findings from comprehensive health and nutrition surveys conducted in the ‘80s and ‘90s by a research group including his son. After looking at responses from over 2,500 counties across China and Taiwan they correlated a direct link between diet and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. People living in rural China were often healthier than their city-dwelling counterparts because although they had less money for food, they ate off the land reducing their intake of carcinogens, preservatives and fructose.
Over the years, as economic expansion brought more money and Western franchises including McDonalds and other fast food chains to the region, many Chinese fell prey to the fatty options, forsaking ancient healthier practices.
The 21 Day Challenge started Monday in China. On April 2nd, it’s America’s turn. The diet is low fat and vegan (no meat, dairy or cheese) and is based on a pretty simple philosophy, “Eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet while minimizing the consumption of refined foods, added salts and added fats.” After the 21 Day Challenge, Campbell says you shouldn’t eliminate meat (including fish) from your diet but rather minimize it and instead, seek out what he calls, “safe proteins” including plant, wheat and soy.
Embracing The Challenge
In America we are unapologetic meat eaters. We hunt, fish, clean up the kill and then roast it over an open fire. So how do we adopt healthier diet practices mentioned in the China Study, replace our meat with soy, still feel satiated and work it in to our busy lives? Thankfully, manufactures have made vegan choices a whole lot easier to come by and they swear the carnivore brain will be happily fooled. Popular vegan brands like Boca, Harvest Direct, Lightlife, MorningStar Farms and Worthington Frozen Foods carry burgers, chicken, hot dogs, sausage and other meat-ish entrees.
Don’t fear the tofu! Poor tofu may have been the butt of jokes over the years but it’s a vegan staple so don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Google “tofu recipes” and your little hard drive will start whirring with over a million hits. You can fry it, bake it, grill it, serve it over noodles or rice, eat it on a sandwich, caramelize it or substitute it in your favorite spaghetti sauce or casserole.
Celebrity coaches for the American challenge in April include Alicia Silverstone, Ironman Brendan Brazier and Ultramarathoner Scott Jurek.