Often people hear of scientific information that justifies a radical shift in diet to plant foods, they çan't believe their ears. "If all that you say is true," they wonder, "why haven't I heard it before? In fact, why do I usually hear the opposite of what you say: that milk is good for us, that we need meat to get protein and that cancer and heart disease are all in the genes?" These are legitimate questions, and the answers are a crucial part of this story. In order to get to these answers, however, I believe that it is essential for us to know how information is created and how it reaches the public consciousness.
As you will come to see, much is governed by the Golden Rule: he who has the gold makes the rules. There are powerful, influential and enormously wealthy industries that stand to lose a vast amount of money if Americans start shifting to a plant-based diet. Their financial health depends on controlling what the public knows about nutrition and health. Like any good business enterprise, these industries do everything in their power to protect their profits and their shareholders.
You might be inclined to think that industry pays scientists under the table to "cook the data," bribes government officials or conducts illegal activities. Many people love a sensational story. But the powerful interests that maintain the status quo do not usually conduct illegal business. As far as I know, they do not pay scientists to "cook the data.” They do not bribe elected officials or make sordid underhanded deals. The situation is much worse.
The entire system-government, science, medicine, industry and media-promotes profits over health, technology over food and confusion over clarity. Most, but not all, of the confusion about nutrition is created in legal, fully disclosed ways and is disseminated by unsuspecting, well-intentioned people, whether they are researchers, politicians or journalists. The most damaging aspect of the system is not sensational, nor is it likely to create much of a stir upon its discovery. It is a silent enemy that few people see and understand.
My experiences within the scientific community illustrate how the entire system generates confusing information and why you haven't heard the message of this book before. In the following chapters, I have divided the "system" of problems into the entities of science, government, industry and medicine, but, as you will come to see, there are instances where it is nearly impossible to distinguish science from industry, government from science or government from industry.