In furthering its case for high yield/high input agriculture, the Hudson
Report states that 3rd-World personal incomes are growing thanks to booming
economies and that much of of the extra income has gone to improve dietary
quality through increased consumption of "high quality protein foods" such
as "cooking oil, meat, and dairy products". For starters, all vegetable oils
are 100% fat with no protein (the same with animal fats).
More to the point, the Averys perpetuate the common and harmful (in terms of
health consequences) myth that a high quality diet necessarily entails
substantial consumption of meat and dairy products. On the contrary,
numerous studies relating dietary habits and wellness have shown that
consumption of animal products is directly and strongly correlated with a
higher incidence of chronic degenerative diseases such as hypertension,
heart disease, stroke, certain cancers (especially colon, breast, and
prostate), osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, gallstones, kidney stones,
constipation, and hemmorhoids.
The influence of genetic factors here is minimal, since these diseases
skyrocket when previously healthy ethnic groups (e.g. Pacific islanders,
emigrating Japanese) change from their traditional plant-centered diets to
the modern "high quality" Western diet. Heart disease deaths dropped
sharply throughout Europe (down 67% in Finland) during World War II when
meat, eggs, and dairy products were rationed only to rebound when normal
Perhaps the best evidence supporting the negative health consequences of the
high-fat, high-protein, low-fiber Western Diet is the Cornell-China-Oxford
Project on Nutrition, Health, and Environment headed by T. Colin Campbell, a
nutritional biochemist. The study examined 6500 Chinese (100 from each of
65 counties) re health, lifestyle, and diet and found the following:
1. Although the U.S. has much higher rates of the above-mentioned
degenerative diseases than China, the study found marked variations in
incidence among different areas of China that are strongly correlated to the
consumption of animal products.
2. Compared to the American diet, the typical plant-centered Chinese diet
contains 60% less fat (15% vrs. 38-40%), 3 times more dietary fiber (33
grams vrs. 10-12 grams), and twice the carbohydrates. Whereas 70% of the
protein in the American diet comes from animal products, the figure is just
7% for a typical Chinese. Typical Chinese cholesterol levels are below 150.
3. Meat consumption isn't needed to prevent iron anemia. The average
Chinese adult is non-anemic and actually consumes twice the iron that
Americans do, the vast majority coming from plant sources not red meat.
4. Dairy calcium is not essential to prevent osteoporosis. Chinese consume
little or no dairy products and get most of their calcium from dark green
leafy veggies. Americans consume twice as much calcium as the Chinese yet
osteoporois is epidemic in our country, In China, osteoporosis is uncommon
despite an average life expectancy just 5 years less (due to higher
infectious disease incidence) than the American average. (Undoubtably, life
style factors such as lack of weight-bearing exercise also play a role here).
5. Contrary to current thinking, liver cancer wasn't correlated with
consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated grain but rather with high cholesterol
levels and China's high incidence of hepatitis B.
6. The study estimates that America could save an estimated $120 billion a
year in reduced health costs by adopting a plant-centered diet.
(Details of the China study can be found at:
Note also that the American Dietetic Association (traditionally somewhat
nutritionally conservative) revised its position on vegetarian diets in 1993
stating that "a considerable body of scientific data suggests positive
relationships between vegetarian diets and risk reduction for several
chronic degenerative diseases and conditions including obesity, coronary
artery disease, hupertension, diabetes, and some types of cancer".
The high incidence of malnutrition in 3rd World countries where
plant-centered diets are usually the norm isn't due to lack of meat and
dairy products but rather to a poverty-induced inadequate consumption of
basic grains, fruits, and vegetables. The Avery prescription of bringing
the Western Diet to the 3rd World is not only economically unfeasible for
the poor but is already having disasterous health consequences among the
middle and upper classes of these countries who can afford the supposed
status boost of buying more meat and dairy products plus overly processed
plant foods high in fat and sugar and stripped of much of their beneficial
Laxative and antacid vendors in the 3rd World have found a lucrative and
booming market among the better off but would be hard pressed to even give
them away to the poor. There may well be more than a grain of truth to the
saying "EAT LIKE A PEASANT, FEEL LIKE A KING" (assuming adequate food
quantity and diversity). It brings up the question of whether the
agri-business fostered American diet is really sustainable considering its
negative impact on human health and quality of life.
Consultant in hillside-farming systems and agro-nutrition