Although most people seem to like the flexibility of our 4-Leaf Program, occasionally I hear from someone who questions why we would “allow” or condone ANY animal products whatsoever. The short answer — we want to make a huge difference in this world. Our health and our planet are both in real trouble and we’ll need to see positive dietary changes by billions of people in order to get things back on the right track — back to living in harmony with Nature.
Let’s face it; trying to get the masses excited about becoming a vegan anytime soon is just not going to fly for most people. Matt Lauer said it best when he incredulously asked Bill Clinton on NBC’s Today Show recently, “Does being a vegan suck?”
The mainstream population of the Western world think of vegetarians and vegans as being a bit weird, and most people have no intention of ever becoming one. But, if they had the “big picture” information regarding the global impact of their food choices, they might very well begin to move in the direction of a diet-style that is not only better for their health, but also crucial for the planet. From a reader last night:
I was very excited to find your blog on the internet. It is amazing that someone with your background has turned towards trying to save the world with the help of a plant based diet. I read with interest several articles (started with the one about Steve Jobs, that’s how I got on your blog). But the 4 Leaf program confused me a little bit.
I simply cannot support occasional pieces of animal products as it says in the 4 Leaf Program. I just wanted to find out for myself if you currently think that it is OK to occasionally eat animal products. Lidia
Hi Lidia, Thanks for your note. In answer to your question about 4-Leaf; I never recommend ANY animal products and never plan to have any myself. But I have observed that most people are averse to anything with an “all or nothing” restriction. In the 4-Leaf Program, the optimal diet would be 100% of your calories from whole plant-based foods. With that in mind, each individual will decide how far and how quickly they wish to move in that direction.
Based on numerous discussions with Dr. Campbell, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Fuhrman, and Dr. McDougall; the consensus is that it’s more important to consume an abundance of whole plants than to simply avoid ALL animal products. After all, one could eat nothing but Diet Coke and potato chips and call themselves vegan.
Would that be better (for your health and the planet) than eating 99 % whole plants and having a piece of cheese once a month? I think not.
So, we built in some flexibility; something that appeals to most people. In fact, we think that ten times as many people would be more likely to add more fruits and vegetables to their diet than those who would agree to go completely vegan. And we’d rather see two billion people quadruple their percentage of whole plant calories than see 1/10th as many — two hundred million people — stop eating all animal products. Which do you think would do the most good for our health, our environment, the conservation of fossil fuels, the suffering animals, etc?
Let’s do the math. If two billion people simply quadrupled the percentage of whole plant calories — going from 10% to 40% — the global benefit would be far greater in ALL of the above five categories than if two hundred million people went all the way to the 4-Leaf level with 80 to 100% of their calories from whole plants. To be precise, the global benefit would be almost four times greater. (60 billion improvement units divided by 16 billion; send me an email if you’d like to see more of the math.)
I hope this helps and I am glad you found our blog. Please tell everyone you know about us. Also, read our book, I am betting that you will like it. We hope it becomes the favorite book that vegetarians and vegans everywhere will want to give to their meat-eating friends and families. If that happens, we’ll have a best-seller for sure — and we just might have a fighting chance of reaching those two billion people. Be well, J. Morris Hicks
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 HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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I agree with your inclusive approach – after all vegans have been trying for years to get more people to adopt a totally plant-based way of eating, but the percentage of vegetarians & vegans has not increased. I welcome anyone who advocates more plants, less animals – we have no time to lose to argue among ourselves about purity – it only puts others off. Thanks! Jean