The challenges are formidable, but there is great hope on the horizon.
While proofing our book for the final time yesterday, I stopped and asked myself a question. How it could be possible for any person to not want to take action — after learning about the staggering toll that our Western diet is taking on this world? In one of the last sentences in the book, I asked this question:
Given what you now know—if you don’t take action—what will you tell your adult grandchildren someday when they ask why you didn’t?
Then, I remembered the single biggest obstacle to change that we are facing — the fact that over 90 percent of the adult population in the Western world still believe that we truly “need” to eat animal protein to be healthy. They also know that their food is very important to them and, armed with that perceived “need” for protein, they are not likely to make many changes — regardless of how compelling the reasons.
But there is great hope on the horizon. It’s the young people of the world who care about the environment, care about the animals, care about their fellow man and care about doing the right thing for all concerned. And they absolutely love to get behind a “cause,” particularly one with the potential to change the world.
While researching for our book, I found that America’s college students (18 to 24) who totaled 17.5 million in the 2000 census are six times more likely to describe themselves as vegetarian as compared to all adults in the country. A whopping 18% described themselves as such last year — compared to just 3.2% for all adults. That is HUGE — and it is great news for the prospects of making some big changes in the way we feed ourselves in the Western world.
While I was surprised (and delighted) to find that 18% statistic last year, I have known for a long time that young people are much more likely to take action if they have enough information. During my eight years of study on this topic, it became abundantly clear to me that the young folks truly “get it” in much greater numbers than do people in the older generations. The old folks are still clinging to their “out of sight — out of mind” mentality, whereas the young are ready to take action. The good news here is that they are the leaders of the future and comprise the primary audience to whom I was speaking as I wrote the 57,000 words of our book.
With an estimated 20 million college students today, my dream is that our book will become somewhat of a “field manual” for the collegiate army that will lead the grassroots revolution to reclaim our health and our planet and end the global madness that has been driven by our harmful, wasteful, cruel and unsustainable Western diet.
In the absence of true leadership among our elected officials and captains of industry, we must look to the young to lead us out of the incredible mess that our generation has created. Want to help get this thing rolling? Please forward this post to every person under 30 that you know. While waiting for our book, they can take a look at the complete Introduction that I provided in yesterday’s post.
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.
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—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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Bill Clinton and Mike Tyson are both strong advocates of a “plant based” diet. They need to more often come out and discuss its benefits. There is an eight stage model that I live by when idetifying movents. This movement would be catagorized as being in the in the ripening stage. With that said more vigor and momentum are needed to keep the idea alive.
3rd stage (Ripening)
Recognition by the public of the problem and its victims slowly grows.
Pre-existing institutions and networks (churches, peace and justice organizations) lend their support.
Tensions build. Rising grassroots discontent with conditions, institutions, powerholders, and “professional opposition organizations” (e.g., large lobbying groups).
Upsetting events occur, including ones which “personify” the problem.
Perceived or real worsening conditions.
Sal, it’s easy to fall into despair when the odds seem insurmountable. But I’m with Jim on this one – I’ve been a vegan activist for 14+ years (vegetarian since birth), and can tell you that I have seen enormous change for the better in this realm. When someone like Mike Tyson (yes, the guy who literally chewed off an opponent’s ear) becomes vegan, you know there’s hope for the world. Bill Clinton too. Look at the slew of vegan books on the market selling by the millions – Skinny Bitch, The Kind Diet, Eating Animals, and the list goes on. There is more awareness than ever, and the younger generation will lead the way. Social change doesn’t happen overnight. Takes time. I agree that we may be running out of time – maybe it’s not happening quickly enough. But the surest antidote to despair is action.
Nimisha in Toronto
And the children shall lead them. And if they don’t, then it’s doom.
You must be an optimistic person because I don’t see any hope that change will come to impact the world. I recently attended a wedding and of the 200 guests there was only one request for a vegan meal and that was from me. Dismal. In my circle of people I’m still considered the food freak. “Plant based food”…you have to be kidding, give me a nice juicy steak…and the world struggles on in its ignorance.
The young are immortal until they become mortal.
Yes, I have always been called an optimist, and sometimes a dreamer, and I am glad of it. But as an engineer, I am also a realist and understand the “huge mountain” that we have to climb together. I am copying the reader that first told me that phrase — Frances, a woman who lives on the Isle of Wight. I wanted to make sure that she saw your comment.
I know that the numbers are staggering, but I also see things beginning to change. And, as I said in the blog, it’s the young people that are changing the most. And I am going to do all that I can to help them change the world. Too bad you didn’t go to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding; apparently you had to order a “special meal” if you didn’t want the standard vegan fare that the wedding party was eating. Best, Jim