We all know and love Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, the life-saving book on preventing and reversing disease through nutritional means. However, it seems only a few of us in the plant-based community (and even fewer outside it) know of the difficulties Colin has endured at his own institution, Cornell University. As an ex-Cornell student myself, and as someone who describes Colin as a personal hero of mine, I was horrified to learn the truth about his plight. Allow me to quickly sum it up:
Cornell University canceled Colin's own course on plant-based nutrition and removed it from the Nutritional Sciences roster, without explanation. This was due to the rampant influence of animal agriculture industries at Cornell, particularly the dairy lobby. In spite of thousands of student signatures, Cornell has refused to reinstate the course, after a 15 year drought.
Not to worry, though! Cornell students are taking matters into their own hands, out of pure necessity (and deep respect for Dr. Campbell). More on that in just a moment.
Cornell’s motto, straight from the mouth of the university’s first president, A.D. White, reads “any person … any study”.
Unless, of course, a student would want to learn the immense power of plant-based nutrition, from Cornell’s own professor emeritus and legendary scientist of over half a century … whose medical colleagues have literally reversed heart disease and diabetes with nutritional intervention alone. Cornell students can’t learn that from Cornell.
Unless, of course, said study conflicts directly with the meat and dairy industries who have usurped academic freedom at Cornell.
Don’t believe me? Check out the giant milk bottle statue right in front of the $150 million dairy building in the middle of campus... and don’t forget the PepsiCo Auditorium lecture hall located right inside!
Or the commemorative plaque celebrating the guy that made factory farms more efficient! (located on the livestock pavilion building)
I, for one, think there should perhaps be a giant broccoli stalk statue, and at minimum a plaque celebrating Colin Campbell's research, instead of these insane tributes to destructive industries … but I know, I’m the crazy one!
Again, it’s been well over a decade since students have been refused the right to learn about plant-based nutrition at Colin’s own university. Imagine if Cornell refused to acknowledge the contributions of Hans Bethe, Richard Feynman, or Carl Sagan in the physics and astronomy departments! Pure lunacy in my eyes.
T. Colin Campbell's book saved me
I stated earlier that I consider Colin a personal hero. This is because his China Study book helped me regain my health, after I lost it two years into my Cornell undergraduate studies. I decided to take a leave of absence, but right before I did a friend told me to read Colin’s book. More than just a manual on healthy eating, it represented a critical shift in nearly every aspect of my life. For me, it was the entrance to the proverbial rabbit hole. In particular, his focus on whole plant foods held the secret: beyond omnivory, veganism and vegetarianism, this is a diet that can reverse our number one killer - heart disease … and a myriad of other ailments.
When I returned to Cornell some years later, I had the privilege of meeting my hero. Today, I have the honor of calling him a friend. I soon realized how humble, passionate, and hard-working the man was in his mission to share the benefits of plant-based nutrition. He also revealed to me what I’ve shared with you, the troubles experienced at his home university. Needless to say, I was shocked. I decided to do something about it.
Colin told me that his recent film, Plant Pure Nation, had yet to be screened at Cornell. I thought this was ludicrous. So, I booked an auditorium on campus, my friends and I made a bunch of plant-based Mexican food for a crowd, and we showed the film to a packed house. Afterwards, Colin answered some questions on the lack of academic freedom found at today’s Cornell. People kept coming up to me after the event, and asking variations of the same questions: “Why doesn’t Colin speak here any more? How come this film and others like it aren’t shown at Cornell. Why haven’t I heard this information before?”
The next semester, I hosted an independent lecture series on campus, and Colin gave another lecture where he dove deeper into how his plant-based course was canceled by the Nutritional Sciences Department (time-stamp: 50:47) . Any fans of Colin and The China Study should give it a listen; it’s quite illuminating.
During that talk, I met a new friend, Pooja Gajjar. She was a recent transfer into the nutritional science undergraduate program, and specifically transferred to Cornell because of its affiliation with T. Colin Campbell. She was rather disappointed to learn of Cornell's treatment of Dr. Campbell. I had previously met two other friends, Jessie and Ella, with the same story - transferring into Cornell explicitly because of Colin's career and presence at Cornell, and subsequently learning of Cornell's marginalization and disrespect of his life's work. All three young women have recently graduated with degrees in nutritional science.
Pooja thought that this issue deserved much more attention, and together we founded Cornell PEACE Talks, an ongoing independent lecture series in response to all of this nonsense. She came up with the beautiful acronym: plant-based nutrition, ethics, academic freedom, consciousness, and environment. I just love that.
Just last semester, Cornell PEACE Talks completed its inaugural run. Colin himself gave another lecture, as did Dr. Milton Mills and Dr. Michael Klaper, two plant-based medical luminaries in their own right. We also screened the documentary What The Health. Jonathan Latham of the Bioscience Resource Project gave the first lecture for the series, on the over-reliance on genetic determinism found in today's scientific zeitgeist of dogma.
Pooja and I had to spend our own money to get this lecture series off the ground. Pooja took out a loan from her father to make this all happen. She still owes him some cash. Imagine that - a Cornell nutrition undergraduate spending her own money to teach plant-based nutrition at her (and Colin’s) own university … in addition to the tuition she was already spending!
This, to me, indicates an incredibly sad state of affairs at Cornell University. I can’t be alone in feeling this way.
(Just to be clear, Pooja did most of the footwork to get this course off the ground, and was indeed her idea. Thank you Pooja!)
Pooja graduated right after the initial run of Cornell PEACE Talks, and is now applying to medical school. We both, however, intend this project to continue indefinitely. Visit cornellpeacetalks.org for more information. Other students are waiting at the helm to continue this critical educational project. Plant-based education must become a fixture at Cornell.
We have a mission of putting pressure on Cornell to officially reinstate a plant-based nutrition course within 3 years of this date. Nothing would make me happier than helping my friend and hero, T. Colin Campbell, teach his life’s discoveries at his own university again. If your life has been saved or improved by The China Study, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story. My thought is that if we gather enough testimonials, Cornell will have no choice but to do the right thing. One can only hope.
Cornell is a meat and dairy school, and is heavily invested in corporate industrial agricultural systems. This is troubling as we now realize how destructive these industries are, for our environment and for human health. Of course, the entire intensive animal agriculture industry is ethically questionable, at best.
There is an incredible lack of awareness of plant-based nutrition and vegan principles at Cornell University. For some strange reason, it has taken us students to lead the way into a sustainable, ethical future, and save Dr. Campbell’s name at his academic home. We will not stop until every student is at least aware of the power of plant-based nutrition for the environmental, human health, and ethical benefits. Thank you for your support!
If you don’t know who T. Colin Campbell is …
Colin is Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell, first arriving for doctorate study in the 1950’s. He is famous all over for the world for his groundbreaking research on human nutrition, resulting in the book The China Study, which has sold millions of copies in multiple languages. By fearlessly promoting a message of plant-based nutrition around the globe, he has undoubtedly saved countless lives from chronic disease. He will go down in history as one of the most influential nutritional scientists, ever.
His medical colleagues have reversed heart disease and diabetes with this dietary approach. NFL players and former US Presidents have gone plant-based and reversed chronic disease due to his influence. Dean Ornish, no lightweight himself, has this to say about Colin:
“Everyone in the field of nutrition science stands on the shoulders of Dr. Campbell, who is one of the giants in the field. This is one of the most important books about nutrition ever written—reading it may save your life.”
Colin deserves better than Cornell has treated him. Let’s get him his course back!