But it WILL happen. As Dr. McDougall says, and I agree, “Our Western diet is just a fad, and will soon pass.”
4Leaf? Regular readers here know what I mean by 4Leaf, but for those who don’t, it simply describes a diet-style whereby we strive to maximize the percent of our calories from whole plants. 1-Leaf is over 20% and the top 4Leaf level is over 80%. 4Leaf eating is not necessarily vegan or vegetarian but eventually leads to a complete avoidance of animal products for most of us.
My prediction. In a hundred years or so, history will record that the period from 194o to 2050 (a mere blink) was an era when the human race briefly embraced a deadly love affair with the most unhealthy, the most harmful and the most inefficient diet-style imaginable. It will record how human health suffered mightily during that period along with the billions of animals who were victims of our folly.
It will also record that it played a major role in the decline of our precious environment, its vast resources and many of its millions of species that make up the fragile harmony of biodiversity on which we depend for our lives.
While I am totally confident that the West will eventually return to a mostly plant-based diet, I am also a realist in terms of how quickly that inevitable transition will take place. As for what will drive that eventual widespread transition in the direction of 4Leaf eating, it will likely be a combination of the following:
- Education. How quickly can we dispel the protein myth with our Project Harmony or something similar. The sooner we dispel this myth, the sooner to scientists and environmentalists of the world will start proposing sweeping changes in the 4Leaf direction.
- The cost of energy. $20/gallon gasoline would be the best friend of a mass movement toward plant-based eating; with 5 to 10 percent of the energy requirement of the typical Western diet — per calorie of food.
- Available land and water. We’re losing arable land the size of South Carolina every year and we’re already experiencing water shortages around the world. Once the smart people realize that we can live just fine on our 4Leaf fare, changes will be coming along in our global feeding model. Remember, it takes well over ten times as much water and land per calorie to produce the food for the extremely inefficient Western diet.
But everyone doesn’t see much hope for change ever happening. One of my regular readers and most frequent commenters doesn’t see much change at all in his world and is not very optimistic about the 4Leaf lifestyle ever catching on in a big way. He writes the following (See my response below):
The people you talk about all seem to be receptive to the 4-Leaf diet plan. Wonderful. I don’t get the same reaction to the message and I don’t see any hope in my neighborhood, my gym classes, my neighborhood restaurants, my neighborhood supermarkets.
All I see is obesity, and more obesity. It’s disgusting. Whether Italian, German, Russian, Polish, I’m looking at obese people who will never get the message and don’t even want to talk about it.
New Years Eve, my wife and I went to a dinner and dance at a club, Italian Charities. There were about 150 people in attendance mostly seniors. There were equally mixed ethnic groups-half were Caucasians and half Asian. A portrait of America: Of the Asians, not one was overweight. Of the Caucasians, at least 70% were obese.
The menu was classic Italian American. A nightmare of food fit for the garbage pail. Of the ten entries, not one, let me scream, not one vegetable was served. And even if there were, it would not have mattered. They would have been loaded with salt, olive oil, and cheese. I don’t know what the skinny Asians ate?
Oh woe is me! Follow the food and you will see there is no hope for America the beautiful. Fat, fat, fat is the national anthem and don’t we sing it beautifully.
Jim, I wish I had your enthusiasm, your optimism, your belief system about the 4-Leaf plan. As a die hard pessimist, its never going to happen: America is doomed!
Eat more broccoli! Salvatore Liggieri
Dear Sal (one of the healthiest 86-year-olds in the world),
I am not surprised that you’re not seeing much interest in 4Leaf in your peer group. Most people that age have almost zero interest in changing their diets for any reason. But, in my case, I live among a totally different populace here in Stonington — with friends and acquaintances ranging from under 20 to over 90.
As for getting any of them to change, I find that it’s a simple matter of “different strokes for different folks.” Almost everyone in town knows that I have written a book on healthy eating and that most of the restaurants will serve you a “Hicks Special” if you ask for it; but the vast majority of the people still have not made any improvements in their diets. But the ones who are ready to listen — and are willing to change — have been seeking me out or have simply started eating differently themselves. At their own pace.
You are probably right; the movement toward 4Leaf is going to be slower than we would like. How long will it take before over half of the Westerners are eating mostly plants? Here’s my projection of the pace of change that we can expect:
First Step. We must dispel the protein myth throughout the Western world. Depending on the prominence of the messenger and the amount of funds devoted to the effort, this could take from five to ten years. (See Project Harmony)
Next Step. After the protein myth has been dispelled, about one million of the best and brightest scientists, environmentalists, college students, journalists, authors and world leaders, will truly “get it” — and will start writing and developing strategies for tapping into the vast superiority and efficiency of a plant-based diet. This phase will take another five to ten years.
The Final Step. It’s all about the taste and availability. As the above two processes begin to unfold, there will be a growing army of chefs, restaurants and food producers that will begin to take advantage of this growing trend. This movement will gain tremendous traction within ten to twenty years and by thirty years from now, around 2040 to 2050, over half the Western world will be eating mostly plants.
Bottom Line. All of the above could happen sooner if the price of oil were to suddenly double or triple.
As I approach my 67th birthday next month, it is not likely that I will be around to see the 4Leaf lifestyle being embraced around the world, but I should be around to see it gain some powerful momentum as I approach my golden years.
Sal, it’s always good to hear from you and always glad to know that you’re continuing to encourage everyone to “eat more broccoli.” Best regards and be well, Jim
PS: For your convenience, here are the last six “big picture” 4Leaf blogs that I have posted. Also, just last night, one of my good friends came up to me, gave me a big hug and told me she was adopting the 4Leaf lifestyle. She even told her physician who of course told her that she would need to find a way to get enough protein. NOT.
Six of the Most Recent 4Leaf Blog Posts in Chronological order
- Effortless weight-loss — on the “4-Leaf” road to vibrant health (posted 11-08-11)
- 4-Leaf Thanksgiving; “Harmony hike” + healthy feast-to-remember (posted 11-28-11)
- 4Leaf — a simple, flexible and powerful path to vibrant health (posted 12-21-11)
- In the quest for “vibrant health,” weight-loss is just a bonus. (posted 12-27-11)
- Getting started on the 4Leaf path to vibrant health…(posted 12-30-11)
- 4Leaf Mentality — Subconscious awareness of the optimal (posted 1-6-12)
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Want to receive some occasional special news from us? 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.
—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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In reply to Sal’s post – i understand your discouragement Sal. But my husband and I attended the September 2011 E2 Immersion in Austin Texas, and we met several people from Texas – there were actually quite a few. And Rip Esselstyn changed his Engine 2 fire dept. crew to plant based. I know that Austin is the ‘alternative’ part of Texas, but there were people there from all parts of that state. There IS hope.
The people in your town must be a more enlightened and affluent group who will listen to your message. Middle Village is more typical of America. Fat people who won’t listen. I wonder how your message would play in Mississippi or Texas, the two fattest states in the country.
A recent discussion I had at my gym. I talked with an 82 year old man from Germany who had a heart attack and was now exercising. I asked what he ate? His response: “I eat healthy, plenty of meat and dairy, prepared in my German tradition.” I asked what about vegetables? “Some creamed spinach and sometimes pickled red cabbage.” And that’s it. I started to talk plant based food and he says: “If you don’t eat meat and drink milk, you are going to get sick.” This from a man who had a heart attack. He walked away holding hands with his fat wife.
That is the typical Middle Village reaction I get whenever I talk plant foods. Maybe you should move here, your influence is much needed.
My gym classes: America in all its fat glory. 42 seniors exercising, here is the body count
(imagine if they didn’t exercise): 5 thin; 6 overweight; 31 obese.
Discouraging, but I will still preach the message: Eat more broccoli!
It’s never too late to change! A friend of ours changed her diet to plant-based at age 89, and the angina she had experienced for thirty years went away after three weeks!! She is now 97 and going strong 🙂 She was honored as a Star McDougaller a few years ago, and you can read her entire story here: http://www.drmcdougall.com/stars/061200staredna.html
Eating 4-Leaf and loving it. Only 4.5 days in, and my body is going through the adjustments to this new diet physically. Let’s just say it is cleansing itself.
Mentally I can’t believe how much food I am eating. I am eating more now than when on my previous Westerner diet, and I feel better, and though I haven’t gotten on the scale, I know I am either maintaining my current weight or have lost some. I’m waiting to weigh myself after one full week on the program and then once weekly thereafter and I’ll report to you any changes.
On the Westerner diet I was already eating oatmeal every morning, but the packaged weight control oatmeal, I’ve now switched to making it myself from scratch. And I was eating salads for lunch every day. Then I would have to skip dinner or have cereal or salad again in order to maintain my current weight.
Now I am eating constantly and full all the time and suspect not gaining weight but starting my way toward my body finding it’s ideal weight and it is very exciting.
My husband is adopting a 2 meal a day and snacks 4-Leaf and eating a sensible Westerner meal for dinner.
My children 11, and 17, are so excited with all the fruits I brought home last night from the grocery store and joined in eating the 4-Leaf oatmeal with me this morning. Both of my children would be considered healthy and optimum weight with their Westerner diet, but I’m excited to see what kind of energy they will have to propel them that much further in their sports and other activities that they regularly enjoy. My 17 year old son who is 6′ 3″ and 157lbs (considered an excellent weight for his height / actually he is trying to gain more muscle weight as he is on the high school hockey team) ate the oatmeal with fruit with me and actually told me “Did you make this from scratch? This tastes awesome.” Then as he was almost finished eating it he said, I’m full.” And he did not not eat every bit in his bowl. He NEVER says he is full and he NEVER leaves food behind. It is usually, “Hey, can I also have that banana, and can I also have a peanut butter sandwich, and I’ll have some of those pretzels too, and oh if you aren’t going to finish that, I’ll eat it.”
Very excited to report to you in the future our family experiences with the 4-Leaf program. Thank you for doing this first ever Gardner Animal Care Center team program. You have touched 4 people in a household in a small town in Massachusetts. I’m not sure the level the other 3 will follow in the long run in the 4-Leaf program, but I’m in “whole hog” or should I say “whole bean”. Going to give this a good go and I’m suspecting my habits will rub off on them.
A pleasure to meet you this week.
Gayle Craig, CVPM, Practice Manager at Gardner Animal Care Center, Gardner, MA