On Sunday, my blog (inspired by the Lincoln movie) was all about the need for superior vision, leadership and commitment to wake the world up to the devastating consequences of our typical western diet. For your review, here is how it ended:
The Bottom Line. We need another Lincoln now—at the right place at the right time. How ironic that that person might be the president whose destiny was only possible but for the actions of President Lincoln 147 years ago.
As I have blogged recently, President Barack Obama is the ONLY president that we’ve ever had who truly understands the consequences of how we’re using our planet to feed ourselves. Like Lincoln, he is at the right place at the right time—with the right knowledge and skills to get the job done.
And he has the most popular ex-President in our generation as an ally. Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton have the knowledge and they have the political skills to make a HUGE difference in the next four years. But, even with all those things working in their favor, their task will be anything but easy. As David Brooks said,
If anything, the movie understates how hard politics can be. The moral issue here is a relatively clean one: slavery or no slavery. Most issues are not that simple.
And one of those issues that is not that simple is the one we’re facing about our “food choices” and the sustainability of our species. But, without a doubt, there’s never been a more important issue.
Let’s do all we can to promote the “Obama-Clinton” team to pull some Lincoln-esque levels of vision, commitment and focus out of their bag.
First I heard from Sal. Even if America had ten “Lincolns,” the way Americans eat— even with a national tragedy in the making—will never change. Bill Clinton, after his heart surgery and then his change to a supposedly plant food diet has made no impact on the SAD. And Obama, forget it, he likes a good “steak.” Whole Foods CEO may be vegan but his stores still sell junk food. It never ends as the beat goes on.
Then from Joanne. Sal, HOPE is our mainstay. Against all odds, Lincoln achieved the unimaginable. Would slaves have dreamed that their bondage would be abolished in 1865? My guess is – hardly. For all of us who know that a plant based lifestyle is the answer to both the health crisis and our planet’s sustainability concerns, we have to keep pushing – writing letters, blogging, teaching, spreading the message. Whatever we believe and can conceive, we will achieve. It may not be in our lifetimes, but it will happen. Jim, the comparison between Lincoln’s actions and today’s crisis is masterful. Time to send THIS blog to Presidents Obama and Clinton, and some key leaders in Congress; Michelle Obama, too. Personally, this blog should be published in the NY Times. No holds barred. Flood the media. Contact Mika on MSNBC. Together, we need to hold HOPE that we will be the change we want to happen, for the sake of our children, grandchildren, and future generations.
Then from Ray. Hello Jim, I am afraid that I agree with Sal. There is no way that people will just give up the SAD. My brother came down with type 2 diabetes. I gave him Dr Barnard’s book. He read it, gave it back and said he would rather die than give up what he eats. The young and healthy would not believe the truth about what to eat for any reason. they have been raised to love their food, and see nothing wrong with it. Some will change their minds when they get old and sick, like myself.
Finally, for today, my response to Ray
You’re right, everyone wouldn’t change overnight, but you’d be surprised how many would if both Obama and Clinton got as serious about abolishing our harmful, inefficient and unsustainable western diet—as Lincoln was about abolishing slavery.
We’re talking about leadership here—with vision, commitment and determination. Lincoln faced a mountain of obstacles in the North and the South but was absolutely positive that he was making the right decision for the longterm future of the nation. The only difference is that now there is a lot more at stake than one nation—-the longterm sustainability of the entire human race is what’s hanging in the balance today.
And once those two guys get passionate about sharing the “big picture”—with the entire world—about what we’re eating and how we’re using the planet for our own selfish diet-styles—you’ll began to see the most accelerated move toward plant-based eating that we’ve ever seen.
You know, Lincoln didn’t solve all of our nation’s problems with his 13th amendment, but he definitely put us on the right track at critical moment in history. And he wasn’t very popular for making that move.
Ray, this is a critical point in the history of the world—much more critical than Lincoln’s 13th amendment campaign. And we have two popular and charismatic leaders—BOTH of whom understand the power of plant-based in addition to the UNSUSTAINABILITY of our western diet.
And neither of them ever has to worry about getting elected again. It’s a moment that may never happen again. —My 676th consecutive daily blog—
- My Lincoln blog. Lincoln. A special man. A special leader. A special time.
- My related McGovern blog that features a comment by T. Colin Campbell. Squandering the exceptional wisdom of George McGovern
- Did you know that Obama really “gets it” about food?
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation
Hey – John Robbins did great 25 years ago — and now his free video talk in October and a 12 Dec. 2012 update of his “Diet for a New America” book — pass the info!!!! I posted this today:
Someone who is a leader in taking on the food industry right now is Michelle Simon, author of Appetite for Profit. She is on Twitter and daily debunks the PR coming from Big Food. As long as Big Food has the ear of Congress and (and I think this a big and) the health agencies — American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, etc. — little will be accomplished. Recall what happened when someone at USDA suggested that the Washington HQ dining hall consider going meatless on Mondays. Congressmen went ballistic and the reccomendation was quickly rescinded. Presidents Obama and Clinton would face a PR backlash like nothing they’ve seen. Eating meat is seen as a sacred cow in this country, and any attempt to curtail meat eating or milk drinking would be seen as simply un-American. But as I write this, I believe change will come, but it has got to come from the grass roots.
I agree that we need a strong leader in promoting a plant based diet. I think Nathan’s post sums it up nicely. In reality, most of us are like sheep – people believe all the misinformation given to them by the mass media and yes, by our governments. So yes, all the sheep will follow the leader.
I look to the Public health success in combating cigarette smoking as a model for making real change in food. We aren’t going to magically convince everyone to go cold turkey tomorrow, and we don’t need to.
I think the first step is having our 1964 moment: Get the surgeon general to stand up and say “our diet is killing us and our planet.” End the subsidies that drive the prices of fruits and vegetables up, and the cost of meat, dairy, and junk foods down. Tell the scientific community to stop watering down their reports to be ‘corporate and public opinion’ friendly: tell it like it is, we can handle the truth.
Our agriculture industry is full of amazing hard working people: they can make a switch to a 100% local based organic infrastructure, and if the current subsidies are removed, the current system will collapse it is not a viable economic structure. Organic is better for our long term future, and can be just as profitable, the transition could be helped along by giving the current commodity subsidies to organic food for humans instead of gmo corn to feed livestock and burn inefficiently for fuel. We have the technology.
If we can force people to have to confront the fact that the foods they have come to love are bad for their health, and make them more expensive, while parading healthy and delicious cheaper options in front of them, we will lower the barriers that make it so hard for people to even try to eat healthy. Every nay-sayer with their bacon cheeseburger will bemoan paying $5 instead of $0.99, and whine about the good old days… But they will no longer be able to justify their diet as being OK, their commitment to moderation as being fulfilled, their weight as being a only a “little too high”: like the die hard smokers of today, they will tell us “we know its bad for us, and we know we will die, and we ACCEPT that” because despite knowing it will kill them and being more expensive, they still are so addicted that they are unable to stop. Later we can worry about getting them the professional psychological help they need, because crippling physical addictions are no simple matter. We need to create conditions where more people are the “low hanging fruit” that we can easily convince, not just people who are literally dying and will do anything, but average people who can say, “sure, why not?”
I meet so many people who are trying so hard to do “anything” to feed their family healthy wholesome meals: They just don’t trust veganism, and they’ve never heard of plant-based diets. Inundated with ‘moderation’ experts, our plant based message is unable to reach most average healthy people. Even I thought vegans/vegetarians were delusional and crazy until I got to college and my professor put the scientific papers in my hands. What a luxury that I could make my own informed decision. I looked long and hard for any evidence that The China Study was wrong, that the facts were manipulated. I never found anything that contradicted the basic premise of eating whole foods.
If we can raise a generation of children surrounded in an environment that demonizes and discourages animal foods and junk foods the way we demonize and discourage cigarettes, I think we could see a 60% reduction in animal product consumption, the way we saw a 60% drop in the rates of cigarette smoking.
If we can do even just that much in 50 years, that will be progress worth celebrating about.
despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, I will not despair, for no challenge is too great. We ended slavery, we gave women the right to vote, we toppled the unstoppable tobacco juggernaut, we elected Barack Hussein Obama and sent a Black man to the White house. We will send a woman there in my lifetime I am certain. None of these things were “possible” when the people who did them were children. But people dreamed bigger, and did them anyway. In the words of Margaret Mead:
“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”
I’m going to keep chasing that distant horizon.
I’m with you all the way about our plant food diet and that change has to come or else! I am vocal about it and keep preaching the message constantly. My family holiday dinners are
the classic example why change will not be easy. I have talked plant foods for years and not
one person in the family has been influenced to change. I’m talking about fat people with major
medical problems who keep eating the SAD and just “Lovin It.” This Christmas will be an especially big feast with 31 people invited.
For me, this is a difficult time to watch these hapless fools gorging themselves on the Italian style foods. I want to scream at the insanity but it would fall on deaf ears. So I sit there eating “my food” which I have brought from home, politely answering the protein/calcium questions which will always be asked. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!
And I would bet that if Obama and Clinton were invited to this Christmas food orgy, they would succumb to the aromatic and colorful food display glistening with that wonder food, OLIVE OIL.
Jim, how can you go shopping in any major supermarket, watch all the fat people stuffing their carts with “good food” and think that change will come?
Change is difficult. There is a book ‘Change or Die’ that describes a number of situations where people made change for the better. It points to Dr. Ornish and his success with heart patients. The book points out that people do not make change out of fear or facts. The motivation behind change is often love of others. So with Bill Clinton he stated that he wanted to see his grandchildren. If people have the facts there will be some that make a change. Many will not. But it is only fair that they do have the facts. As to the long term I believe that an appeal to love of family, our country, and this planet continues to bring hope. We will indeed change or die individually and collectively.
All I can add to your comment, Jim is BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO!!
I am in agreement with you on this. I am not an Obama supporter on many issues but he does seem to understand this issue well emnough to possibly lead on it. Also the fact that the first lady is also in the same camp helps tremendously. I am sure that he will have the same difficulties that we all have had in converting to a healthier diet and as such would have to make some changes if he is really wanting to be effective as a leader on this subject. The fact is, as you suggest, the stars are aligned to make this happen. The question will be does he have the work ethic and fortitute to fight the battle. Lincoln had it, but I am not sure that Obama does. We shall see.
Keep making the positive case and, who knows, eventually someone is going to listen.