Not much “health promotion” going on at VegFest

Most exhibitors featured food that was just “not animals”

On a warm and sunny spring day in Worcester, Massachusetts—Dr. T. Colin Campbell was the highlight of the event as he he addressed a standing-room-only crowd at 1 p.m. He attended the show with his wife and grandson and was there primarily to promote his daughter’s Whole Plants Cookbook (by LeAnne Campbell Disla) and to continue spreading the word about plant-based nutrition.

Thank goodness for VegFest. I wish to go on record that I greatly appreciate what the VegFest organization is doing. They are promoting many things that are good for the planet and are obviously good for the welfare of animals. We were delighted to be there and do our part to help people better understand the concept of vibrant health as it relates to the food that we should be eating.

Dr. Campbell was a big hit at the VegFest. The man standing in the top right corner of the photo is the Holy Cross professor who invited me to speak at one of his classes in February. He reports that our book has made a big difference for him, his family and for many of his students.

Highlights of the show for the 4Leaf Team

  1. There was great interest in our 4Leaf Survey as we administered it to about 100 people.
  2. We sold all but two of the books that we brought with us.
  3. Many people who had read our book stopped by our table to tell us what a difference it had made in their lives.
  4. We added many new names to our database.
  5. We had a chance to work together as a team for the first time—Jason, Lisa, Andrew and me.

The authors are all set up and ready for the show. Don't miss the last photo of our youngest 4Leaf team member.

Vibrant health? Although I didn’t get a chance to walk around the show, Jason told me that there were only 2 out of nearly 100 tables that were promoting vibrant health — ours and Dr. Campbell’s. Most of the exhibitors were giving away free food and none of it was 4Leaf. Catering to new vegetarians, they had lots of fake meats, cheeses, and sweets—with nary a whole plant in sight. Not animals, but not healthy either.

Meanwhile, at our table, we administered the 4Leaf Survey to a steady stream of interested people all day. Here’s how they scored on our 12-question survey—with the number of people at each level listed first:

Our 4Leaf survey estimates the % of daily calories from whole, plant-based foods.

  • # —– level     % of daily calories from whole plants
  •  9  — 4Leaf            Over 80%
  • 13 — 3Leaf            60 to 79%
  • 15 — 2Leaf           40 to 59%
  • 26 — 1Leaf            20 to 39%
  • 23 — “BTM”         10 to 19% (Scoring “better than most”)
  • 14 — “Unhealthy”   < 10%      (The “majority of Americans are in this group)

As you can see from the above, only about 25% of the people scored at 3Leaf or better on our survey. But this is much better than the scores that we would see in the real world. For example, if we surveyed 100 people at a McDonalds on a Friday night, we’d find less than 3% at those levels, if any. And we’d likely find 65% or more in the “unhealthy” category with less than 10% of their calories from whole plants.

Vegan is not necessarily healthy. I have made this statement many times—in our book, on this blog and in my speeches. And this was proven at the VegFest by a self-described “vegan” woman who took our survey. She actually tallied the lowest score of the day—reporting that she eats zero daily servings of whole fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes.

She admitted that she’s not eating a very healthy diet; but she is not alone in the world of vegans and vegetarians—most are focusing primarily on what they’re NOT eating. Hopefully, our survey will help her make some much-needed improvements in her diet.

Obesity at VegFest? Yes, there was a fair amount but not nearly as much as you’d see at Walmart on Saturday. And many of those obese folks are fairly new to being vegetarian and others are suffering from eating disorders. That being said, if they loaded up on all the “unhealthy” free vegan food at the event, their obesity would not improve.

Our conclusion. Even uninformed vegetarians are eating a much healthier diet than the average American. But this wasn’t your average “vegetarian” crowd. Based on the throng of people trying to get into the Dr. Campbell portion of the event, my guess is that most people attended the conference primarily to see and hear Dr. Campbell. And that kind of group as a rule is going to be more knowledgeable about what constitutes a health-promoting diet.

The bottom line. For me, this was a very worth-while event. It was great to visit with people who are moving in the direction of plant-based eating—for whatever reason. So you can expect to see us at more VegFest events in the future.

Scroll down for a few more photos

Dr. Campbell reviewing our 4Leaf Survey yesterday in Worcester--- before the VegFest began.

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

This photo was taken from our table---looking across at Dr. Campbell's table on the same level.

Finally—one more photo of our youngest 4Leaf team member

Middle grandson, Andrew (9), sitting with his "GranBuddy" just before the show began.

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

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

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 Not much “health promotion” going on at VegFest

  1. Bill K. says:


    You can’t say that I did not warn you (In one of your blogs) prior to your attendence. I experienced the same thing at a Michigan Vegfest event.

    The bottom line is that we all need to continually be searching for the best information that is available at the time we are searching. 50 years ago bacon and milk was considered healthy. Now it is not. 20 years from now we may even know more. Some of the people who attended that event would have become healthier by eating the fake meat than they may have been on their current diet. So they take one step forward. Hopefully as I suggest, their learning does not stop there. I started 8 years ago as a quasi-vegetarian, then became a vegan and then a raw vegan and then a low fat raw vegan. Each step brought about better health. Even if I had stopped at cooked vegan I still probably would have lived a long healthy life as compared to most people but my learning continued on. Every person who enters an event like this will come away with a different impression from “this is all nonsense” to “I am now committed to make a change” . As I am sure you recall in raising children, you are never sure if all of your wisdom is sinking into them until much later when they have to make their own decisions. The same is true in these trade shows. You demonstrate your four leaf plan to a whole group of people and you can never be sure how many will get it. But the main point is that no one would get it if you were not there. The simple fact is that the time you spent at the show has helped some people become better.

    Thank you for all of your efforts. Sure some people will leave the show with a faux chicken wing in hand but others will be on the path to four leaves. Maybe someday those other people may be trading in their soy-poultry for some garden fresh vegetables in part because of people like you.

    Thank you,

    Bill K.

    PS. The Michigan Green Living Festival is coming of June 22-24 in downtown Rochester, MI. This is a big event which will have over 50,000 visitors so you may want to mthink about attending. Their website is to get more info. Rochester is a very upscale community in Michigan so you will be reaching your target demographic. Let me know if you are considering making the trip and I can get you more info on the area.

    PSS. This is an interesting article by Kevin Gianni regarding discovering what is the proper diet. http.//

  2. Darcy Phillips says:

    Glad to see a great turn out, sorry to hear about all the “fake” meat and cheese junk. I have to say that I am disappointed in the book The Veganist for the same reason. She has some great information, but comes up short in the recipe section. If I am choosing to give up animal products to promote vibrant health why in the world would I substitute it for fake meat that contains nothing but chemicals and fillers….yuck! Vegan bacon? Now that is the biggest oxymoron I have ever heard!!!
    Enjoy your day.

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