The TERRIFYING repercussions of our DEMAND for meat

From the well-researched point of view of another “big picture” guy

When I first began learning about the many repercussions of our food choices in 2002, I immediately wanted to understand the “big picture.” After more than ten years of studying and three years of writing and blogging about this crucial topic, I have found another “big picture” guy—Dr. Richard Oppenlander, who has been studying, writing and speaking about this topic for more than thirty years.

Comfortably UnawareLike me, his background is not related to food, health, or the environment; yet he has become an expert in the big picture as it relates to our food choicesHis book, Comfortably Unaware, was published in 2011 by Beaufort Books and is an incredible source of information on a plethora of issues related to what we eat. From the book’s description on Amazon:

In Comfortably Unaware, Dr. Richard Oppenlander tackles the crucial issue of “global depletion” as it relates to food choices. We should all be aware of our diet’s consequences on the environment and commit to seeking food products that are in the best interest of all living things. His stark mental images are often disturbing–and that’s how it should be. We need to be shaken out of our complacency and understand how to ensure the well-being of our planet–and of ourselves.

Oppenlander presents this information in easy-to-read chapters on issues including rainforests, oceans, and the air we breathe. His fresh insight on this controversial topic goes beyond the familiar warnings about “global warming.” His book is essential reading; he provides new perspectives on how this global crisis reached such startling proportions, and how to solve the problem. 

I took this picture of Susan Benigas and her husband when they were in CT for our book launch party.

I took this picture of Susan Benigas and her husband  Jon when they were in CT for our book launch party. I urge you to click on her link and share it with every MD that you know.

Last week, my good friend Susan Benigas (Co-founder of the Plant-Based Healthcare Conference) sent me a note telling me that she had found someone who would surely become my kindred spirit—telling me that she felt like she was reading something that I wrote—and knew that I want to get to know Richard.

On Friday, I began by watching an 84-minuted video of his presentation at the March 2013 McDougall Advanced Study Weekend. I began watching the video at home, watched another half hour at the Mystic Starbucks and finished watching it on the train to New York.

As the video ended, I purchased a Kindle copy of Richard’s book on Amazon and was reading Chapter 3 as I arrived at Grand Central Station. After watching this video, I am confident that you will also want to buy the book.

I mentioned that Richard Oppenlander has been studying this topic for much longer than I—here is something that he wrote in 1989:

Regarding Food“Every day each of us must make choices and then, ultimately, take responsibility for the comprehensive impact of those decisions. Therefore, it seems to be the inherent duty of everyone to make as informed a choice as possible. We should all be committed to understanding the reality and consequences of our diet, the footprint it makes on our environment, and seek food products that are in the best interest of all living things.” Richard A. Oppenlander, 1989

Dr. Richard A. Oppenlander

Dr. Richard A. Oppenlander

Telling it like it is. Like other authors in this field, Richard focuses on the truth, regardless of how uncomfortable hearing the cold hard facts might be for some people. From the book’s introduction, he explains why he has chosen to be totally candid in telling the world these much-needed truths:

Numerous books have been written about various diets and food as it relates to our health. Many also are now available about global warming and climate change. Comfortably Unaware is the first to bring to light the much larger and more insidious issue of global depletion as it relates to food.

I have not cut corners or suppressed topics to avoid exposing businesses, institutions, or individuals and I am not concerned whether or not it is a risky business move for me to write this book. I also have not withheld or modified information because it may be difficult for you, the reader, to accept it or because it may be culturally or socially overloading for you.

So, my agenda is clear: to provide you with complete truth and compel you to understand all the issues of this critical topic. It is my sincere hope that you become more aware of and sensitive to the ubiquitous effect of your food choices and that a positive difference can be made in your life and in the health of our planet and all its inhabitants.

Ralph Lauren -- and his relaxed "style" that has changed the way the world thinks about clothes, home and life in general

I spent much of my career working in the fashion industry with people like Ralph Lauren, my boss from 1987 to 1994 when I was EVP.

One final point. As you may know, I come from a 35-year career in business; working ten or more years in three primary roles: industrial engineer, corporate executive and executive recruiter. During that career, I learned a lot about focusing on the big picture, improving processes, building teams, identifying talent and recruiting leaders. I learned nothing about healthy eating or saving our species. But, since 2002, I have invested the requisite 10,000 hours in learning all about the big picture of our food choices.

Since writing my book in 2011, I have published about another million words in 800 separate blogposts and am now lining up speaking engagements every chance I get. Like me, Dr. Oppenlander’s primary career has not been in food, health and environmental studies. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he has earned his living as a dentist—and still maintains an active practice in the Kalamazoo area.

But his primary message has nothing to do with dentistry—rather, it’s all about the terrifying planetary repercussions that are driven by our demand for meat, dairy and fish. Nowadays, in addition to his practice in Michigan, he has started an organic vegan food production company, operates an animal rescue sanctuary, and is the founder and president of Inspire Awareness Now.

All about improving the health of humans while preserving nature's ability to sustain our species

All about improving the health of humans while preserving nature’s ability to sustain our species

Both of us, because of our passion for this topic, have studied it enough to be able to offer a fresh, big picture perspective that you may not always get from the “insiders.” Dr. Campbell mentioned this phenomenon in the foreword to my book:

Too often in a field of study, we rely solely on those people who have established themselves as “inside experts.” Yet, sometimes the most interesting perspectives are those that come from outside the field. And that is the case here—Jim’s perspective has enabled him to tell a story in his book that is informative, engaging and compelling.

I feel the same way about the work of Dr. Oppenlander. Yesterday I sent him an introductory email but we have not yet spoken—I look forward to getting to know this remarkable man.

Handy 5-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.

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

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—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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6 Responses to The TERRIFYING repercussions of our DEMAND for meat

  1. Linda says:

    Jim, Thank you SO much for sharing this information and this video. I didn’t make a note to myself to watch it; I stopped what I was doing and watched the entire thing. I put his books on my “wish list” and posted the video to my Facebook wall with this comment:
    “If you live on planet earth. If you have or will have children or grandchildren. If you still eat water animals, land animals, and secretions from land animals, please take the time to watch this. You’ll probably be shocked, but you’ll be enlightened. And that’s a good thing.”

  2. CJ says:

    Jim, so glad that you finally found Dr. Oppenlander’s work! I added a comment on one of your posts back in March with the link to that video from Dr. McDougall, who was posting alot of great videos at the time… so glad you’ve showcased it here. Since March I’ve since shared it with so many people who were also blown away, just an incredibly eye-opening presentation if there ever was one. I thought immediately that you and Opp had very similar messages and should get together… like other folks, I thought you already knew him! He has a well-updated Facebook site at: Also, he supposedly has a new book coming out in September, titled “Food Choice and Sustainability”. I’ll pick that one up too. Best wishes, Jim.

  3. I listened to Dr. Oppenlander’s Dr. McD video back in March. Thanks for making the link available for your audience, Jim! I just re-posted it in full here on the Dr. Colin Campbell CON Thread for the “New Atkins” book:

    And posted a link to your today’s blog on’s site here:

  4. KM says:

    I just learned about him & heard him speak last week while listening to the Veganpalooza online audio summit. List of all speakers that may be helpful contacts here:

  5. Leo S. says:

    Thanks again for providing another lecturer who shows there is more to life than sleeping, eating, working and having fun without realizing the effect it might have on them or other people and life forms, the environment and the planet. The Internet provides access to these videos and articles which can be quickly sent to others who might also benefit from the topics discussed. We don’t have to wait for legislators to pass laws to make life better for us. Many have made lifestyle changes and seen improvement in their health. Affordable Healthcare (Sickness Payment) will treat the symptoms more than the cause. Since 2010 the Pritikin Program and the Ornish Program are covered by Medicare but the majority of people don’t know about them. It would be better to practice lifestyle changes to prevent or reduce the severity of various conditions than to live as usual and then apply for treatment/payment for a problem that may develop.

  6. barbaraH says:

    I’ve been following Dr. Oppenlander for months now, and recently I was trying to remember where I first heard about him. I couldn’t, so I just assumed it had been on your blog!

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