Dispelling the “protein myth” and beyond; a report from Ithaca

Even with the powerful Cornell "brand" behind Dr. Campbell's efforts, the "protein myth" is still alive and well.

Yesterday in Ithaca, Dr. Campbell gave us a 90-minute summary of his 40-year attempt to dispel the “protein myth,” the one about us actually  “needing” to eat animal protein to be healthy. As we absorbed his incredible story, one involving politics at the highest levels of government, we quickly became totally aware that a direct attack on animal protein was not our best option.

As we all know, just because we might be right about something doesn’t mean that people will listen. We must exercise sound judgement as we move forward. I am often reminded of a poem that I learned in a high school drivers education course in 1960:

Here lies the body of Julian Gray, who died while taking the right-of-way; he was right, dead right, as he sped along, but he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.

Not sure what role he will play, but there's certainly a place in this movement for President Clinton and his CGI.

In an extremely complex system of government, academia, medicine, big-pharma and the food industry — where almost everyone truly believes that we need to eat animal protein to be healthy — it’s going to take a well-planned and deftly executed campaign of educating the Western world about the enormous benefits of plant-based eating — beginning with our own health. Along the lines of Eat this, not that…

Instead of choosing this message: Despite popular opinion and many authoritative voices to the contrary, the simple truth is that humans do not “need” to eat animal protein in order to be healthy. The fact is that it is literally killing us and destroying our planet in the process. My name is Bill Clinton and I approved this message.

We chose this message: Plant-Based Eating — Providing ALL the nutrition that you need for your health — while, at the same time — doing some wonderful things for your environment, your fellow man, and all living creatures. While eating in a manner that prevents or reverses heart disease, diabetes and cancer; each of us can reduce our total water consumption by 90 percent, free up three acres of land, and cut our total energy consumption by 30 percent. The positive implications on global water scarcity, energy crisis and world hunger are staggering. We are the U.N., the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative), and the ADA (American Dietetic Association) and we approved this message.

We concluded yesterday that the traditional approach of writing books and giving lectures is simply not getting the job done in terms of influencing enough people to embrace the world-changing, plant-based diet-style. We simply must take this message to people everywhere in a big way. To do so, we need to develop powerful, polished, totally credible, and exceptionally professional media to get this message to the wealthiest one billion people in the world above the age of 18.

And we need to get the message to them more than once; we may need to get it to them twenty times over the period of six months to a year, and then keep sending it to them indefinitely — or until our highly wasteful, harmful, cruel and grossly unsustainable Western diet is less popular than smoking is today in the United States.

To be sure, both the U.N. and the ADA (mentioned above) have already issued numerous statements in support of a  widespread move to plant-based eating. But they have been somewhat obscure, not well-publicized and remain virtually unknown to over 99% of the  general population. Here are two from 2009 and 2010 that I have covered in earlier posts:

United Nations. “A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change,” a UN report said today (June 2, 2010.“As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable,” says the report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management. (See link to my post on this topic)

ADA (American Dietetic Association. Vegetarian diets are often associated with health advantages including lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels and lower risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes, according to ADA’s position. “Vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates.” From a 2009 position paper.

The Bottom Line. Many people in science, medicine, industry, government and academia know that all of the above is true, but they’re trapped in a system that prevents them from changing that system. But we don’t need the approval of “the system” to change it. We just need to inform the the general public. And we need to inform them with an abundance of clarity; something they’re not used to seeing when it comes to what they should eat.

For a population accustomed to never ending “confusion” on this topic, many of them will rush to embrace the refreshing “clarity” of our campaign; particularly the young people, who will resent the fact that our “system” has been selling us all a bill of goods for so many years. Finally, the fact that the campaign will be sponsored by names (institutions and individuals) that they trust, the process will gain momentum much more quickly.

Dr. Campbell made it clear yesterday that he really liked the idea of this “mass education” program and will work with us to identify a few leaders who should be involved. I left Ithaca yesterday very enthusiastic about our prospects going forward. Stay tuned.


J. Morris Hicks, author and activist. 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.

And if you like what 4-Leaf eating is doing for you and your family, you might enjoy visiting our new “4-Leaf Gear” store. 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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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 Dispelling the “protein myth” and beyond; a report from Ithaca

  1. Eating out is part of the American food culture. How do you get restaurants to change to a more vegan menu? The task of change is overwhelming. Italian restaurants would be the most difficult to change as they represent probably the largest number of eat-in restaurants in America.

    As an Italian, I despise Italian restaurants because of their arrogance in thinking their food is the best with olive oil as the sacred ingredient. Try ordering a dish without olive oil and you will be looked upon as insane, committed to violating the purity of their menu.

    Yes, change will be hard to come by if not impossible.

    J.Morris Hicks, I applaud you for your visionary beliefs, hoping that they take root.

    Let the world eat more broccoli!


  2. cacatua21 says:

    I for one had no idea that Burger King offered a veggie burger.

    It is very important that children learn that it is OK to choose another path and to NOT eat the animals! My mother scarred me for life when she suddenly brought home a sack full of pretty chickens from a relative’s farm and, after having always taught me to love the animals, she began wringing their heads off in our basement at home! The lesson was that this was the way life works and you had better get used to it! This was in about 1955 and in a small rural town in Iowa. Had I known that it was OK to NOT eat the animals I’m sure I would have never done so from that day forward, or at least when I became old enough to assert myself. Instead I struggled with this for years, feeling that I would just be a weirdo odd-man-out if I had refused to participate – after all we are supposed to eat meat and drink milk…..right? My mother did a very good job of getting her message across, and the act of eating animal produce is constantly reinforced by society, especially if you live in a state where agriculture is a big part of the economy.

    It is difficult to be optimistic at times, especially when you’ve had a negative experience connected with your plant-based lifestyle for whatever reason, so I am posting a link to The Politics of Optimism at Humane Myth. It may be helpful:

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