Sal, this one’s for you.
After studying all about food since 2002, I published my first blog on this WordPress site on February 10, 2011 and have posted one every day since. Today is #400—and it is dedicated to one of my first readers and the one who has posted more comments than anyone else—Mr. Salvatore Liggieri of New York City.
I had the pleasure of meeting Sal back in November—we had a great (tasty and nutritious) vegan lunch at the Candle Cafe at 75th and Third on the upper East side. And to make it even more special, Bart (the founder) stopped by our table for a visit.
As most of you know, Sal tends to be slightly less optimistic than I when it comes to confidence that we Americans will EVER walk away from our exceedingly harmful, wasteful, cruel and unsustainable typical Western diet. He frequently describes his visits to the gym where he chronicles some of his observations and interactions:
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.
The scene that Sal describes is all too familiar. We have all seen it and I’m sure that I will see a lot of it during the next ten days while visiting parts of Georgia and Alabama.
But, as I have said many times in this blog and in our book, the people that Sal describes and that we all see in our daily lives are simply doing what they have been taught. Our sad situation of ill health, along with the other consequences of our deadly diet, is not their fault. They have been told the wrong information by institutions that we trust. And that has simply got to change. How?
The Big Picture. For those of us who understand how all the pieces fit together; it is our responsibility to spread the word—even if we have to go up against the uninformed schools of nutrition, mainstream medicine, the food & pharmaceutical industries and our own government agencies like the USDA and the FDA. The good news is that we have some brave pioneers from the elite science and medical communities on our side. And we have some powerful citizens like Bill Clinton and others who have taken charge of their own health—by simply heeding the advice of those brave pioneers.
But like Sal, every once in a while, I feel a bit of depression about our situation. Whenever that happens, I like to pause and remind myself of all the positive things that are happening. Here are a few that come to mind this morning:
- The T. Colin Campbell Foundation and eCornell have trained and certified over 1600 people in Plant-Based Nutrition since January of 2009 and about 400 of those have been medical doctors.
- Medical doctors and registered dietitians receive continuing education credits for taking this course and we’re now training about 400 doctors per year. I say “we” because of my great privilege/honor to now be serving on the board of this superb organization.
- Since doctors and dietitians don’t learn a great deal about truly promoting health in their formal training, many of them are energized and motivated after taking Dr. Campbell’s course.
- One of the graduates is my new friend Dr. John McDonough, who holds a doctorate in public health and is on the faculty of the Harvard School of Medicine. A former state legislator in MA, he was a close colleague of the late Ted Kennedy and worked with the U.S. Senate committee as a consultant on health care reform. He now blogs twice a week for the Boston Globe. (Google “Health Stew.”)
- The China Study (with the same publisher as our book) is now approaching the one million mark in sales around the world. Even more impressively, since being released in 2005, its sales have risen steadily every single year—all through word-of-mouth; with zero marketing. It’s now selling more books each week than it’s entire first print run back in 2004.
- Our book is also beginning to make a difference in people’s lives. As with The China Study, people who like our book are giving it to their close friends and families. And they’re using it in their own efforts to take charge of their health.
- A local friend of mine had triple by-pass last week. With no knowledge of his heart disease, I had given him our book last month. Yesterday, when I visited him in his hospital room in Hartford, our book was on his tray and he’d already read the first two chapters that featured Dr. Esselstyn’s amazing success with heart patients.
- My visits last month to the University of Kentucky and Holy Cross College reinforced my earlier conviction that the future success of our quest depends on the young—and gratefully, they are accepting that challenge.
- With a new tracking feature, I have just learned that in the past two weeks, this blog has been viewed in 77 countries—on every continent.
- With a degree in Industrial Engineering, it is great personal thrill for me to be able to get my arms around the single greatest process improvement in the history of the world—what we eat. The positive impacts on our health, cost of health care, the energy crisis, climate change, water pollution/shortage, land degradation, loss of forests & species and world hunger are STAGGERING.
In summary, as my son Jason and I often say to each other, “It just feels really good to be making a difference. Want to help us do more of that?
Then kindly tell your friends and family about this blog and our book. Also invite me to speak in your area or, finally, introduce me to an organization that might like to have some assistance in lowering their cost of health care.
Finally, I want to end this blog today with a few more words from my friend in New York. With the help of all my new friends in those 77 countries, maybe we can measure our progress in years and decades instead of the centuries that Sal suggests in this comment:
Jim, It excites me that you are making progress, though slowly. We will have to accept that change will be slow. But also accept that for many people there will never be change. For some smokers, they will continue to smoke until they die from it. Some obese people will opt to stay fat. They will all get what they deserve: A life of health misery!
I admit that it’s frustrating to talk to people about “plant foods.” When you question what they eat, you are questioning their religion. They all eat “healthy.” Why are we who eat the plant food diet (PFD) always asking the questions? In my thirty years of eating this way, no one…and I mean no one has ever asked me what I eat. Not even in my obese family.
Yes Jim, we will make progress but measured in centuries. Long live the Broccoli! Sal
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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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