The Four-Way Test of Rotary Clubs…

Does our current way of eating pass?

In thinking about my speech to the Rotary of New York at the Harvard Club tomorrow, I noticed a paperweight in my office this morning that was given to me by the Guilford, CT, Rotary group back in December. It featured the Four-Way Test which I just decided will be the basis of my speech tomorrow.

J. Morris Hicks -- writer, speaker, blogger & "big picture guy"

A little history, in 1932, Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor created The Four-Way Test, a code of ethics adopted by Rotary 11 years later. The test, which has been translated into more than 100 languages, asks the following questions of the things we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

As a positive thinking kind of guy, today I want to submit the diet-style that I am proposing to that Four-Way Test; not the prevalent diet-style in today’s western world. I believe that the natural diet for our species is whole plants — in nature’s package and I agree with Dr. T. Colin Campbell of Cornell (author of The China Study) that “the closer we get to consuming a whole foods, plant-based diet, the better off we will be.” Let’s put it to the test.

Is it the truth? The animals in the wild whose DNA is closest to ours eat nothing but whole plants. Cultures throughout the world who consume mostly whole plants have practically none of our chronic diseases. When those peoples migrate to the west (or the western diet comes to them), they begin to suffer our chronic diseases at the same rate that we do. Then there’s the overwhelming scientific and clinical evidence supporting the plant-based diet….and its ability to prevent and reverse chronic disease. So where do I get my protein? From the same place that the strongest animals in the world get theirs, whole plants. Is it the truth? In my mind, it’s more like a blinding flash of the obvious.

Is it fair to all concerned? In this case, my definition of all concerned is ALL of the living creatures on this planet…over one million species. Let’s look at some numbers; the arable land required to feed the 7 billion humans of the world. Right now there are roughly 8 billion acres of arable land…or just over one acre per person. With a plant-based diet, we only need 1/6 of an acre to feed one person. Compare that to over three acres required to feed one person the typical western diet. Yes, plant-based sounds exceptionally fair to me.

Will it build goodwill and better friendships? A look at history will tell us that many wars have been fought over food, an absolute necessity for every human on Earth. A plant-based diet-style that can feed twenty times as many people on the same amount of land certainly can’t hurt when you’re talking about goodwill. Just think, on that 8 billion arable acres, we could theoretically feed 48 billion people. Yes, it will do more to build goodwill than any single move that we humans could possibly make.

Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Back to that word ALL…those one million known species on the planet, 50,000 vertebrates and 15,000 mammals. In addition to feeding the humans of the world, we must consider all of those creatures. For the record, we are the only species in the 4 billion year history of life on this planet that has not lived in harmony with nature. Yet, we consider ourselves the most intelligent. In the 2009 film HOME, a very disturbing fact was revealed: In just the past 50 years, the human race has inflicted more damage on the planet than in all previous generations of humans for the past 200,000 years…and that if that deadly trend is not reversed by 2019, that we may pass the point of no return. Will it be beneficial? A better question might be, “Will it save our way of life on this planet?


While changing the way we eat will not fix all of our problems, I am firmly convinced that it is the single most powerful step we could take. Further, I am convinced that there has never been anything more important in the history of the world. Hopefully, you will think about this TEST each time you shop for groceries or order a meal in your favorite restaurant. Our problems are complex, but the most powerful of all solutions is simple…it’s right under our noses…it’s what we put in our mouths every single meal.

If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

PS: Occasionally an unauthorized ad may appear beneath a blog post. It is controlled by WordPress (a totally free hosting service). I do not approve or personally benefit whatsoever from any ad that might ever appear on this site. I apologize and urge you to please disregard. 

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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2 Responses to The Four-Way Test of Rotary Clubs…

  1. Thomas Mitchell says:

    Jim, a brilliant connection as always, and I’ve no doubt you inspired more than a few Rotarians to look in their refrigerators with a skeptical eye.

    In addition to the moral and ethical perspectives, I think you also touched on the financial aspects of a plant diet some time ago. Here’s a wonderful series of photographs showing one week of food for ten families around the world, and what it cost. Completely fascinating.

    Thanks for doing what you do!

  2. Eva Corredor says:

    Dear J. Morris,
    Your talk today at our Rotary meeting at the Harvard Club was very interesting and inspiring. I am sure the next time I shop at Whole Foods in Edgewater I will remember your comments and try to shop, to eat reasonably. I have been trying… but love desserts, not the big creamy cakes but some cookies and, my favorite, fat free frozen yoghourt – that’s not too bad, is it? Please reassure me!
    Much success with your book and your message!
    Cordially, Eva

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