Are All Proteins Created Equal?
Written by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
I recently received a question that is one of the most commonly asked
questions of me. Because this particular question seems to be of such
interest, I thought it might make sense to turn my answer to this
recurring question into this week�s blog. Here is the question: isn�t
protein from any source, whether from animals or plants, similar in its
The short answer to this question is �No.� When a dozen or so animal
proteins were compared in animal studies with a dozen or so plant
proteins, ALL animal proteins generated higher levels of serum
cholesterol than did ALL plant proteins. Similarly, these two forms of
protein do not have the same �biological value�, a concept that speaks
to their abilities to support body growth and their efficiency of
And if you read �The China Study,� you may already know of our
experiments showing how animal protein can stimulate cancer growth.
Animal protein promotes cancer growth when fed at levels in excess of
protein needs, but plant proteins when fed in isolation and at the same
levels do not. We studied this protein effect extensively, it was
peer-reviewed multiple times, it was supported by NIH funding and it was
published in the very best science journals.
Interestingly, the animal protein we used in these experiments was
casein (from dairy). Based on the data from these studies and on
traditional carcinogen testing criteria, casein is the most relevant
chemical carcinogen we ever tested, with a high probability that all
animal-based proteins would do the same thing, similar to their behavior
with other responses.
I realize that one could make the argument that plant-based proteins
could be carcinogenic and act like animal-based proteins if they are fed
in isolation and at a high enough level. But in reality, we get our
nutrients from whole foods, or at least we should, and for this reason
it is impossible to consume plant protein at such a high level. In
addition, any theoretical ill effects would be limited by the
consumption of multiple anti-disease components of plants.
In the case of plant and animal proteins, they are not created equal.
As components of food, one can cause illness; the other becomes an
essential element of a healthy diet.
The Challenge of Telling the Truth
Written by Nelson Campbell
In recent days, my father�s research in China has come under attack
on the web by people and groups who have read an extensive but
scientifically unsound critique of the China Study. Despite lacking an
adequate understanding of statistics and causality, this person used her
intelligence and writing skills to compose a critique that might seem
persuasive to laypeople. (See my
father�s response.) People opposed to my father�s views have used
this as an opportunity to criticize his research, and even to mock his
intelligence and character.
This sad episode is another reminder of the challenges we face in
communicating the truth of health to the public. And it is a reminder of
why those who know this truth need to join hands in common purpose.
Those of us who are taking the lead in this effort should strive to make
the cause of honest science and truth-telling our primary concern, of
greater importance than our more narrow personal interests.
When we launched Campbell Coalition, we hesitated to use the name
�Campbell.� Time and again, however, people close to us suggested we use
this name because my father is known by so many people. For marketing
reasons, we decided to accept this advice, but we feel strongly that the
idea of plant-based nutrition is a universal idea with no connection to
any one person. It is an idea that comes from Nature, and an idea that
no one person can lay claim to. It does not matter who discovered what,
or who did what; what matters is working together to communicate the
truth of health to the public.
To emphasize the social aspect of our long-term plans at Campbell
Coalition, we are pursuing a long-term strategy that will enable us to
recycle the financial return we generate back into the cause (see Our
Big Idea). We are hoping that this might illuminate a pathway for others
to follow, where financial, reputational, and other such interests are
subordinated to the larger cause we all believe in.
We hope you can join with us, and we urge support not only of
Campbell Coalition, but of every person and organization involved in
promoting the message of plant-based nutrition. Everyone�s efforts are
important. This is not what economists call a �zero-sum game� where one
person�s gain is another�s loss; rather any person who succeeds in
changing the life of another through plant-based nutrition benefits us
I also would like to offer one other idea for your consideration.
Namely, we should keep an open attitude toward those who are fighting
our message. Everyone is a mother, father, brother and/or sister of
someone else, so we all have a stake in the truth. But the truth can
find a home only where it is welcomed; for this reason, it is imperative
that we always strive to appeal to people�s positive instincts.