The China Study is one of my favorite books on nutrition because Campbell really backs up his arguments. You may not personally agree with his point of view, but at least he cites a study for every point and backs his ideas up with solid research, which is more than a lot of nutrition books can claim. I also happen to think his writing style is pretty engaging – especially considering how dry the science can be, he keeps it very interesting throughout the whole book.
The title is a little bit misleading because while he does discuss “The China Study” (a huge epidemiologic study of people in rural China, who are fairly genetically similar and tend to maintain the same dietary habits their whole lives, thus allowing them to observe the impact of differences in diet and lifestyle) the book is really more about nutrition and a plant based diet and how a lot of different studies address the issue. Discussion of the China Study itself is really just a chapter or so of the whole book.
I was already vegetarian and “mostly vegan” (meaning I ate eggs and had a little bit of dairy here and there) before I read this book, but it really is the best health-based argument for a vegan diet that I’ve ever read and tipped me over the edge into no animal products at all. I appreciate that he is not dogmatic about it, either – he doesn’t say you should never ever under any circumstances eat animal products, he simply points out the science indicating that less is generally better (and encourages people to go full vegan simply because moderation is a lot harder than just cutting it out all together – definitely true for me!).
I also love that he breaks the book down into sections on the major Western diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, auto-immune disorders) and proceeds to give the exact same nutrition advice for all of them. Because eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help almost every chronic disease! Which is good because even if you’re especially worried about cancer, it’s not like you want to prevent that and then have a heart attack.
If you are curious about the health-based arguments behind a vegan diet, I very highly recommend this book – it does a great job of discussing the research without being glib or judgmental.