Grassroots Revolution 101 — reaching the “mainstream”

Leveraging an artful blend of modeling and marketing

A reader from Minnesota recently suggested that we get serious about launching that grassroots revolution that I have been talking about on my blog. So, I thought I would get that ball rolling by sharing some of my thoughts on the subject. Here’s what Greg had to say:

“I have just begun reading your site the past few days. I cannot agree with you more on everything I’ve read so far. I have blogged the same type of info to my family and friends for years, and it mainly falls on deaf ears.

You mentioned that possibly a grass roots group could help promote the change we need to see. Why don’t you/we start one? Get people to sign their names to a list, agreeing to a basic nutritional standard- plants/your 4 Leaf idea. I know there are LOTS of people who would participate. Let’s get going! Time is a wasting, and so is the environment and the health of the general population. Thanks for your wonderful work, Greg.”

As Greg probably knows by now, I wrote a blog last week that was addressed to college students and graduates under 30. I believe, for several reasons, that they will be the key players in this revolution:

  • College students are six times more likely than all other American adults to be already eating mostly plants. (18% vs. 3.2%)
  • As more and more of them learn about ALL of the reasons for eating this way, that 18% could double quickly.
  • They also love to get behind a cause; especially one that takes on the “establishment system” (government-medicine-media-academia) that has been lying to them and their parents for the past fifty years.
  • Not yet loaded down with career and family pressures, they still have the time and the energy to participate heavily in something that they believe in.

Here’s that post: To the collegiate army that will change the world — this is for you, in which I explain that the young people will probably do most of the heavy lifting in our grassroots revolution.

The tone of our message. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in this world.” And I think we can be a model AND spread the word without proselytizing. Having a background in fashion and marketing, I am trying to package our message for the mainstream. I know that less than 5% of Americans are vegetarian or vegan and I also know that many of the other 95% thinks that most vegetarians are weird — and not the kind of people they want to emulate. So how do we reach that larger group?

Subtle marketing; the process of creating a desire for your product, service or idea in the mind of your target consumer without that person ever having any idea whatsoever that they have been “sold” anything. My former boss, Ralph Lauren, was a master at doing just that. Steve Jobs does a pretty darn nice job as well.

Publisher -- BenBella Books (the same publisher that brought you The China Study)

So for starters, we don’t call it vegetarian or veganism, we call it 4-Leaf for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is there is a certain negative stigma associated with those “v-words” in the minds of the majority of people.

We have also invested heavily in “packaging” of our products. For example, if our book doesn’t sell, it won’t be because of the cover — that big, beautiful, blue apple globe is a real eye-catcher that everyone seems to love. Hopefully, it will attract enough attention that the casual book-shopper will see the primary endorsement (Dean Ornish, MD, — one of Clinton’s doctors) above the title on the front cover.

Dr. Ornish provides the expert name recognition to “validate” the approach from a health perspective. But, in addition to our total of four MD endorsers, we also three “mainstream endorsers” on the back cover; if we’re going to reach “mainstream” people, we’ve got to reach them with “mainstream” personalities that they trust and respect. Here are the three (of our ten endorsers) that we selected for the back cover:

  1. For the environmentalists. John Robbins, best-selling author of a dozen books and world renown environmentalist — has sold millions of books
  2. For the business people. Paul Allaire, Fortune 100 CEO (Xerox 1990 to 1999) a name widely recognized throughout the global business community
  3. For everyone in search of a better life. Alexandra Stoddard, best selling author of Living a Beautiful Life and 26 other books…one of the most famous women’s lifestyle writers in the world.

Not your typical "vegetarian" option on the menu, the 4-Leaf Challenge leverages the power of whole, plant-based foods to help people everywhere learn how to take charge of their health - and so much more.

We have also hired a professional branding and marketing company who designed our 4-Leaf logo and came up with the “4-Leaf Restaurant Challenge;” creative chefs = great taste! We intend to test that concept in Stonington, CT; then roll it out across the country in the months ahead.

Social change comes slowly, but it is coming. It is inevitable that it will happen well before the end of this century. But with the efficiency of the internet, coupled with great packaging and marketing, I am hoping that this great social change will happen within my lifetime — over the next 30 or 40 years. And I am working daily do my part.

Michelle Obama seems to have the ear of the former president in this picture; just think what they could accomplish if they teamed up to tell the world the truth about nutrition.

Greg from Minnesota asked about getting Michelle Obama to join our revolution. As for her, the person who should be able to influence her best is former President Bill Clinton. Not sure if he has connected all the dots relative to the global urgency of our moving back to our natural diet, but he is pretty much eating the way I do; and the positive results are obvious. I suggested to Michelle (in a blog to her recently) that she have a nice long lunch date with the former president soon. Michelle, it’s time to tell the world about “meat & dairy.”

Bottom Line. Back to the opening line: an artful blend of modeling and marketing; we need to “be the change we want to see in this world” AND we need to develop and promote a product that “mainstream” people will find attractive. As the process begins to gain traction, people will ask us questions, and we’ll answer and help them as courteously and as non-judgmentally as possible. Gradually, just as with cigarette smoking, our harmful and wasteful Western diet will no longer be cool — as people eat more and more health-promoting, planet-friendly whole, plant-based foods.

Countdown. Just 47 days until our book launch party; expecting 200 + in attendance, including two of those four book cover endorsers mentioned earlier. Where are you going to be on September 29? If you’re going to be near Stonington, CT, shoot me an email and I will forward you an invitation to that party.

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

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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1 Response to Grassroots Revolution 101 — reaching the “mainstream”

  1. Dan Liese says:

    Hi Jim
    Great blog and i agree with Greg in his note to you about the grass roots efforts. As you know i have been a huge fan of yours since i met you back in 2010 when we had coffee at Noah’s in the village of Stonington. I love marketing and believe in giving information to people to make it easy for them to make a decision but i also feel it is imperative to give them baby steps to follow to rid themselves of the western diet. If you followed the progression and demise of cigarette/tobacco business feud over the last 30 years with big business and government fighting tooth and nail to keep their gravy train going. It is very similar to your/our battle with 4 Leaf in that government has their hands in the cookie jar (millions rec’d on taxes and financial contributions to political campaigns) and they don’t want to let go even though the health of the world is at stake. As a grass roots efforts we must show and prove to them that disease (heart/cancer/diabetes) is attributed to consuming their meat and dairy “cookie jar” baby.
    Looking at this from a consumers prospective lets get together and develop a carry around booklet (3″ x 5″) with awesome photos, descriptions and recipes for each person to carry with them. As they go shopping, dining at restaurants, talking to friends they have something to show them. As they say in marketing don’t be the message be the messenger. For guys like me it would be great because i can follow a simple easy to read with great photos of what i should eat daily and it also brings curiosity into the picture as “the troops of 4 Leaf messengers” start to whip out their handy dandy note book (obviously you need to make an “app” for this as well”) others will instantly start to ask “What is That”. Then all the followers need to do is hand them an extra copy (that is being the messenger) and just tell them your story how well you feel and how great you look. OK OK i got off on my high horse but feel that if we don’t make it simple then it will take way longer than your lifetime or mine to see the results this 4 Leaf movement deserves.
    Keep up the great work of being a phenomenal messenger of the obvious.
    Your friend and Real Estate Broker from Westerly’s Sea Side.
    Dan Liese

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