More “confusion over clarity” from the mainstream media…

In an article featuring the surging popularity of vegan diets

As I began reading a 7-24-12 article by Angela Haupt in U.S. News & World Report, I found myself thinking that it might be the first “mainstream” article that I had ever seen that provided total clarity about what we should be eating for optimal health. Sadly, I was wrong. (See link below for full article.)

Just like every other mainstream publication or website, they end up favoring “confusion over clarity” every single time. Angela’s article about the surging popularity of vegan diets was no exception—even though she led off with my favorite vegan, Bill Clinton, and featured the likes of plant-promoting MDs Esselstyn, Ornish and Barnard.

Bill Clinton went vegan in 2010 and it probably saved his life. He remains our most prominent spokesman for eating plant-based.

When you start off by telling someone how to reverse heart disease or diabetes and then end up by telling them that the superior diet required for making that happen is “nutritionally incomplete,” what have you done besides confusing the reader? Her article began with this accounting of President Clinton’s adoption of a vegan diet:

Former President Bill Clinton had a legendary appetite: Hamburgers and steaks. Barbeque. Chicken enchiladas. But after having two stents inserted in 2010—on top of quadruple bypass surgery six years earlier—he radically changed his diet in the name of saving his health. Now a vegan, the strictest type of vegetarian, he has cut out meat, dairy, eggs, and most oils in favor of a super-low-fat diet that revolves around whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.

It appears to be working: He has said he’s dropped more than 20 pounds and has never been healthier. In a televised interview with film producer Harvey Weinstein in June, Clinton explained that he’d decided he wanted to live to be a grandfather. “So I just went all the way. Getting rid of the dairy was great, getting rid of the meat was—I just don’t miss it.”

After devoting several paragraphs to similar success stories involving Dr. Dean Ornish and Neal Barnard. She clearly pointed out, “Today, patients at hospitals and clinics nationwide can follow Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which is covered by Medicare and private insurance companies.” She also quoted Dr. Neal Barnard with the kinds of results he typically sees in his patients, “We’ve seen people whose chest pain has gone away within weeks, while their weight melts off, blood pressure goes down, and cholesterol plummets.”

Then the confusion begins. She rounds out the article by presenting quotes from the opposing experts with big titles and impressive resumes.

First Marion Nestle of NYU. Despite all the advantages, vegan diets aren’t a no-brainer move. There are downsides, from potential health risks to the challenge of sticking to such a restrictive eating plan. “Vegan diets are difficult to manage, and they’re nutritionally incomplete,” says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University and coauthor of Why Calories Count. “So you have to compensate for that in some way.”

Then David Katz of Yale. Diehard meat- and fish-lovers who aren’t trying to clean out their arteries can aim instead for what David Katz, a clinical instructor of medicine at Yale University and founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, calls “an optimal omnivorous diet.” An eating plan on the Ornish spectrum is one good option. Another is the Mediterranean diet.

Looking for clarity over confusion, read the works of Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. — Bill Clinton did and it probably saved his life.

The Bottom Line. As we were reminded from the recent Meatless Monday episode with the USDA (See link below), we’re many years away from having our vast “system” tell us what we should be eating—with clarity and simplicity. I explained all of this in Chapter 8 of our book, the chapter entitled “Why did no one tell you this before.” In The China Study, Dr. Campbell devoted over 100 pages to answering a similar question.

When I first started studying this topic in 2002, I was drawn to people with legitimacy, authenticity, credibility and integrity. I found it with Dr. Campbell, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Ornish and the other medical doctors featured in our book. Bill Clinton did the same thing and we know how that worked out. I recommend that you do the same. For your convenience, provided here are links to the source article along with a few of my recent blogs on this subject.

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

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

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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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4 Responses to More “confusion over clarity” from the mainstream media…

  1. Jean Myers says:

    Also most journalists are required to present the opposing point of view or their pieces may not be considered “balanced.” The problem is that the two viewpoints can seem equally valid when in fact, they may not be.

    So we end up with confusion on many topics, not just this one. When you know a subject well, you realize how frequently the articles in the popular press are inaccurate about your own field. Then you cease to rely much on them for good information in any subject! Kind of sad 😦

  2. Lisa says:

    “… vegan diets aren’t a no-brainer move”. As a vegan for almost 1 year, I completely disagree. It’s actually been one of the easiest and best changes I’ve ever made. Finally! I don’t have to diet anymore, no more counting calories, or keeping track of a point system. Within just a few weeks I was feeling so much better that it encouraged me to continue on this path. I eat a variety of wonderful, whole, plant-based food and am thriving on it while shedding the excess 30 pounds I carried. I sleep better, my acid reflux is gone, no more depression, brain fog, fibromyalgia – gone, gone, gone! It is a no-brainer. I don’t ever look back at what I gave up, but I look at the vibrant health I’ve gained.

  3. Bill K. says:


    I think you may be asking too much of these journalists. Most do not have the stomach or desire to do the right thing. As you pointed out the meat and milk lobbies are well funded and ruthless. Also most journalists are just writting to the deadline and most are not following a vegan diet themselves and thus do not fully buy in to the facts they are hearing. I think they add the opposing view because it makes them feel better about the bad choices that they are still making in their own lives.

    Just a thought.


  4. Leo S. says:

    NASA is working on a vegan menu for proposed 2030 mission to Mars. Earthlings should also consider it to improve health and save resources here.

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