On Wednesday, November 11, I ventured up to the 4th floor of The DeNaples Center with a friend. I had cajoled him into coming with me to listen to a science talk. When we entered the lecture hall, we were astounded by the number of people in the audience. Almost every seat was filled, and my friend and I struggled to find two seats next to each other. Looking around at the audience, I noticed that not only University of Scranton students filled the chairs — also adults who I had never seen before, probably from the larger Scranton community and other schools.
We were all gathered to hear Dr. T. Colin Campbell speak. Dr. Campbell is the co-author of The China Study, a book which examines the health benefits of traditional Chinese nutrition. The book, which I had started to read the week before, contains an extensive amount of research. It looks at how the Chinese diet compares to the American diet and how this affects the occurrence of cancer, heart disease, and obesity, among other medical issues. Surprisingly, the Chinese diet has more calories than the American diet, but the people there are less affected than Americans by cancer, heart disease, and obesity. Besides being more calorically heavy, the Chinese diet contains much less protein and fat than the American diet, and almost none of the protein and fat in the Chinese diet are from animal products.
Dr. Campbell began his presentation with a bit of history about himself, noting ironically that he lived and worked on a farm in his youth. He then focused the rest of his talk on the negative affects of animal protein if eaten for more than 10% of one’s diet. His powerpoint slides contained charts that were shocking: one showed how an increase in animal protein caused rats to develop cancer, while an increase in plant protein did not. Dr. Campbell explained his scientific findings well and was very passionate about his research. It was frankly stunning to see research that goes against the modern American trend to “pack in the protein” in one’s diet. Dr. Campbell’s talk was engaging and inspiring, and has made me think more about my own patterns of eating.