FIVE arguments in support of the typical western diet…

…and my single word of rebuttal for all of them: UNSUSTAINABLE!

The Williams sisters—veggie eating champions

Despite the fact that multiple professional football and tennis stars thrive on a whole foods, plant-based diet, despite the fact that heart disease and type 2 diabetes are reversed in 95% of the patients eating whole plants, despite the fact that entire cultures of people who eat plant-based from their birth rarely ever get any of our chronic diseases (including cancer), despite the fact that the strongest animals in the world eat nothing but plants….

Despite all of that evidence, people who want to continue eating meat, dairy, eggs and seafood will continue to do so and will use any number of lame arguments to support their wasteful, harmful and unhealthy habit. I choose to take the high road and avoid arguments that prove them wrong. I take the position of:

“Okay, let’s assume you’re right about all of your arguments—it really doesn’t matter, because the rich Western diet is simply not sustainable for very much longer.”

Secretariat, and all other champion race horses, eat nothing but raw plants.

You see, humans have existed on this planet for for roughly 5/1000th of one percent of the life of the planet herself. And it took us almost 200,000 years to grow our population to one billion people.

Up until then, no matter what we ate, we could only damage ourselves and could simply eat whatever we could grow, find, catch or kill. It really didn’t affect the other creatures that much and had little, if any impact on the environment or the ability of our fellow Earthlings to find enough food.

But things have tightened up in the past few hundred years as our numbers swelled from one billion to seven billion in a mere blink in the eye of planetary history. With about one billion humans going hungry all the time, we now find ourselves in trouble. Quite simply, there’s just not nearly enough land for all of us to eat a inefficient diet, like meat, dairy and/or eggs three meals a day.

This is how much arable land is lost in the world every year.

To exacerbate the problem, we’re losing a South Carolina-sized chunk of arable land every year to harmful farming methods and development—as we steadily go about increasing the global human population at the rate of 197,000 people every single day.

It gets worse—millions of people in China and India are switching from plant-based to the western diet each year–because it tastes good and it is what wealthy people have always eaten.

And that’s just the “land shortage” piece of this unsustainability equation. There’s also the loss of species and destruction of our ecosystem that is being driven by our incredibly harmful lifestyle. We’re now burning forests in the Amazon so that we can grow soybeans to ship to China to feed pigs. That’s so the Chinese don’t have to depend on the developed nations for their all important pork industry.

Five common arguments for meat. So what are all those pro-meat & dairy arguments that I alluded to earlier? Here you go:

  1. Humans have always been hunters and gatherers.
  2. Our brains would have never developed had we not eaten meat.
  3. Even the Bible mentions eating meat and fish.
  4. We cannot get the quality and quantity of protein that we need from just plants.
  5. We need meat & dairy in order to get vitamin B12 and enough calcium & vitamin D.

The Bottom Line. I choose not to argue with any single one of the above reasons and will just say, “even if all of them were legitimate—the incredibly wasteful, harmful and cruel western diet that we consume is grossly unsustainable.”

It’s not about “saving the planet,” which is twenty thousand times as old as we are, it’s about preserving her ability to provide for the longterm sustainability of the human race. If you care about the quality of life of your great-grandchildren and beyond, stop eating meat, dairy, eggs & fish today.

In closing, let’s hear that big picture one more time from our friend, Philip Wollen, in Australia. Take just ten minutes to watch this powerful video.

For your convenience, I have provided a few of my earlier blogs on the topic of sustainability:

Consecutive daily blogs (numerals today from N.J.)

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

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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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8 Responses to FIVE arguments in support of the typical western diet…

  1. John C says:

    Another argument, according to a story I heard on NPR this morning (see link for transcript), is to prevent “stunting” in children. Apparently, according to the story, eating just “rice, beans and corn” causes severe malnutrition in young Haitian children. So, all important protein has to be supplied in the form of fortified peanut butter. “In the Ideal world,” according Lora Ionatti, an international nutrition specialist, , “eggs, milk and meat” should be supplied to prevent the stunting. However, due to cost and availability, they have to rely on peanut butter fortified with dairy, sugar and oil to do the trick!

    • Leo S. says:

      Here is an interesting video discussing results of attempts to improve the health of Filipino children. Peanuts and dairy are mentioned.

      • John C says:

        I am a big fan of T Colin Campbell. I was just being sarcastic about the pro-meat and dairy tone how the peanut butter cure story was presented by NPR, which is normal for them.
        By the way, NPR did a followup the next day in which they mentioned Abbott Laboratories was helping fund a factory that makes the peanut butter “snack”. Abbott labs also manufactures and markets dairy based infant formula throughout the world.

  2. Robert Thatcher says:

    Possible future blog topic in this week’s health headlines: “6 in 10 physicians would quit today.” Perhaps more MDs would keep working if they weren’t inundated with patients with preventable conditions, and if they witnessed how those patients would dramatically improve by shifting to a whole-food, plant-based diet!

    Congrats on passing the “600 mark” and thanks for the daily message!

  3. Dairies are a gone’er in California!

    . . . . . Etc. . . .
    Since 2008, California has lost nearly 300 dairies, with 1,668 remaining as of January, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. There are no official estimates on how many dairies have shuttered in 2012 — but interviews with dairymen and experts indicate several hundred dairies could be in danger of going under.

    “It’s been like a floodgate,” said Riley Walter, a Fresno-based agricultural bankruptcy lawyer who has worked on 58 cases of dairies in financial trouble this past year — from bankruptcies, to liquidations, to operations taken over by receivers.

    “Recently, I had two men over 60 years old who broke down and sobbed in court,” Walter said. “You would be surprised how much these men care about their cows.”

    At the Overland Stock Yard in Hanford, owner Peter Belezzuoli said he sees two to three dairymen selling their entire herd every month, compared to about four per year before the crisis. More cows are being sold for slaughter, he said. And the value of dairy cattle has plummeted by as much as 50 percent in the past five years. . . . . . Etc. . .

    Sad for the Dairy men and women — great for humanity’s health!!

  4. T. Colin Campbell says:


    I have to say, your blog entries, day after day, are as intelligent, creative, articulate, forthright and constructive as any other internet discussion I know. And I am not saying this because you generally support my views. You get into a subject quickly, say what you want to say, then move on. It’s a great read day after day.


  5. Nathan says:

    Without the massive government subsidies that currently exist from the federal government, Dairies would already be extinct.

    While I agree that those 5 common arguments can be countered by the sustainability argument, there are some pretty powerful direct refutation arguments to be made.
    Humans have always been hunters and gatherers.
    (but we now eat far more meat & dairy than they ever did)
    Our brains would have never developed had we not eaten meat.
    (This “expensive tissue hypothesis” has not held up in the latest research)
    Even the Bible mentions eating meat and fish.
    (The Bible supports whole plant foods as being the way God intended for us to eat, see the garden of Eden and the book of Daniel)
    We cannot get the quality and quantity of protein that we need from just plants.
    (this unsupported opinion was rejected by nutritional science years ago)
    We need meat & dairy in order to get vitamin B12 and enough calcium & vitamin D.
    (we can easily get these vitamins from the same or better plant based sources sources as animals)

  6. Leo S. says:

    Dairy farmers could change like the ones in the following video at about 50:25 and possibly see an improvement in health.

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