The Tao of Long Life, first published in 1979 is Chee Soo's classic text about the Taoist Long Life diet or Ch'ang Ming. We begin with an introduction to Taoist philosophy including the Tao, Yin and Yang, and the five elements. Moving on to practical matters we begin by exploring the field of chinese diagnosis by observation and symptoms, pulse taking etc. The most important part is the chapter about natural diet which gives a complete list and detailed description of the chang ming diet. This book provides great insight for those who are beginning to take an interest in Taoist practices, as well as being a down to earth guide to eating Natural Foods, it is also a vital part of Chee Soo's collection of five books about all aspects of the Taoist Arts.
This isn't a 'diet', thankfully, though it does include dietary advice. It's an interesting look at health from the traditional Chinese perspective - which is similar to what we had in the West before modern medicine. Some of it is in line with the very latest scientific thinking, such as the avoidance of animal protein (for health rather than moral reasons); some of it is pretty commonplace; some seems like superstition or cultural prejudice*; and some, like having only 4 hours' sleep, only a pint of fluid a day, and avoiding oily fish, is flatly contrary to conventional advice.
Chinese medicine is at its worst when it tries to compete with Western on its own ground; it claims to be scientific, but when pushed will tell you that its information came from mysterious aliens or was revealed in visions! It's not scientific in the narrow, lab-tested sense, and it probably never could be. Whereas Western science, by definition, isolates one factor, Chinese medicine by definition looks at everything together. It would be difficult to reconcile the two approaches.
So I would use these ideas warily, but I wouldn't ignore them; just because it isn't scientific doesn't mean it doesn't work. How often have you been to your doctor and, because your symptoms don't match some stereotyped checklist, they don't have a clue what to tell you? They have a phrase in the profession, 'the worried well', with which they dismiss everybody who is not actually dying. Eventually you fall seriously ill, and then they get out their pills and scalpels. Whatever you think about all the meridians, pulses etc, the holistic approach of Chinese medicine, and the emphasis on maintaining health rather than 'fixing' problems, is something we could learn a lot from.
Chee Soo died in his mid-70s - only halfway to the 150 years of the legendary Taoist sage. I don't think that necessarily undermines what he has to say, but it probably shows that environment and pure chance have a bigger part to play than anything we can do for ourselves.
*If, as he insists, eating animal products like milk makes you an animal - surely eating vegetables makes you, er, a vegetable?