Remember when your doctor smoked cigarettes?

Not only did most of them smoke; they regularly appeared in cigarette ads.

It’s hard to imagine a physician that smokes today, but it’s not hard to imagine a physician who participates in a much more deadly regimen — eating meat and dairy products three meals a day.

Someday an image like this one with a medical doctor eating a big plate of bacon and eggs may seem more outrageous than this.

Unlike cigarettes, which we never thought were good for us (just that they weren’t hurting us), over 90% of the American population truly believes that we must eat animal protein to be healthy.  And rare is the person today in the USA (including our medical doctors) who understand that our daily meat and dairy habit is by far the leading cause of disease, premature death, and the cost of health care in America.

Back in the day, it seemed like almost everyone smoked. But now, over half a century since cigarette smoking hit its peak, the U.S. government is finally getting serious about trying to stamp out this deadly habit. In a front-page USA Today article by Gary Strauss (6-22-11), the headline read:

Graphic cigarette labels, will they work?

Will graphic images of corpses, cancer-ridden lungs and a guy exhaling smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his neck stub out cigarette consumption? The Food and Drug Administration — which has chosen nine such images to be

Hopefully, during my lifetime, there will be similar ads illustrating the consequences of eating our typical western diet.

placed prominently on cigarette packs sold in the USA after September 2012 — hopes they’ll provide ample shock value.

The Food and Drug Administration — which has chosen nine such images to be placed prominently on cigarette packs sold in the USA after September 2012 — hopes they’ll provide ample shock value.

The article (see link below) pointed out that cigarette consumption had dropped by 50% from 1965 to 2003 but has leveled off since then — now standing at about 21% of the population. So what motivated our government to strengthen their anti-smoking message now?

It could very well be the fact that our 11th and 12th grade children are now more likely to be smoking than their parents. As this chart shows, the 2009 statistic for adults who smoked in the United States was 21%; for juniors and seniors in high school, it was nearly 24%.

Similarities and Contrasts

There are some similarities between smoking and eating a toxic diet; but there are also many things that are very different; here are a few that come to mind:

  • No parent ever encouraged their children to smoke. But with our typical western diet, most parents for many years have truly believed that our bodies need all of that meat and dairy to be healthy.
  • With the exception of a little second hand smoke, when you smoked, you were harming no one but yourself. With our wasteful, harmful and unsustainable western diet, we are polluting the water, wasting our land, disrupting the fragile harmony of nature, and driving up to 80% of our health care dollars. We also torture and kill 60 billion animals a year so that less than 2 billion of us in the western world may dine on their flesh.
  • Schools of Medicine and Schools of Nutrition never endorsed smoking as a healthy activity. Individual doctors may have appeared in ads, but they never actually thought that smoking was necessary for your good health. Now most of them eat the typical western diet themselves and recommend it for others.
  • Cigarette warnings began long ago.  They first appeared appeared in the U.S. in 1966 — Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health. With our entire “system” of medicine and nutrition actually promoting the continuation of the typical western diet, it may be another twenty years before we even see our first warning label on a carton of good old cow’s milk.

The fight to end smoking has been arduous. The fight to end the far more deadly typical western diet has hardly begun. And given all the above, it is going to far more arduous.

Sadder even than teens smoking is watching them innocently follow the lead of their parents AND doctors in the consumption of the deadly western diet.

Maybe the love for our children will help speed the inevitable process? Not only are our children beginning to smoke more than their parents; they’re also not eating as well as their parents. We all know about the lack of any healthy choices on most kids menus, and we know about the corresponding meteoric rise of obesity and type 2 diabetes among our young people — but we’re not doing much about it.

While virtually all parents would say that nothing is more important to them than the welfare of their children; 95% percent of them are still influencing those children to consume a very harmful diet. That’s because they simply don’t yet know the truth about nutrition. Just last week, Dr. Ornish explained that simple truth in his endorsement for our book:

“What’s good for you is also good for our planet.  Although heart disease and diabetes kill more people each year worldwide than all other diseases combined, these are completely preventable and even reversible for at least 95% of people today by changing our diet and lifestyle.  This book shows you how.”

—Dean Ornish, M.D., Founder, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Clinical Professor of Medicine, UC San Francisco, author, The Spectrum and Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease

Handy 5-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies

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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