What is the nutritional value of vegetarian diets and how does it compare to the federal dietary guidelines? Who has been vegetarian through the ages and why? How does eating a vegetarian diet relate to cholesterol? Dietary fat? Protein? Are meat and dairy foods essential for good health? What are the effects of eating a plant-based diet on chronic disease and other health factors, such as growth?
These and other concerns are the focus of what is believed to be the first course on vegetarianism at a mainstream university. The course, Vegetarian Nutrition (NS 300), will be taught by T. Colin Campbell, professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University and the director of the Cornell-China-Oxford Project on Nutrition, Health and Environment, the most comprehensive project on diet and disease ever conducted. The course will be offered Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:10 a.m. for two credits with an optional discussion group on Fridays at 11:10 a.m. for an additional credit.
Although Campbell will give most of the lectures, guest speakers include comedian Dick Gregory, doctors and authors Dean Ornish, John McDougall, Charles Atwood, Alan Goldhamer and Terry Shintani as well as vegetarian chef and author Robert Siegel and world class vegetarian athlete David Scott, the six time winner of the Iron Man Triathalon in Hawaii, the only person to win that race more than once.
“This presentation on vegetarianism is far more than traditional scientific methodology and scientific ‘facts.’ It is a more holistic view of biology, indeed of life, than rational science tends to allow,” says Campbell, who is known widely for his provocative research findings that suggest that Americans will not reduce their rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic, degenerative diseases until they shift away from an animal-based diet to a plant-based diet. Campbell is also the editor-in-chief of New Century Nutrition (formerly Nutrition Advocate), a newsletter that includes educational packets on information and recipes regarding vegetarianism.
“The course is intended to question the existing paradigms of nutritional science and, in so doing, to introduce the student to the idea that eating foods mostly or entirely from the plant kingdom is what produces genuine health. It is no longer an idea reserved only for the fruitcakes and nuts in our society, as some might believe,” Campbell adds.
There are no prerequisites for the course and members of the community are invited to enroll via the Office of Extramural Studies.