NOTHING is more important than SUSTAINABILITY!

Things that we value most like family, health, freedom, peace, wealth, friends and happiness—do not exist without sustainability. In other words, if we don’t learn how to live sustainably, life will be nothing more than a hell on Earth for those few of us who survive. —J. Morris Hicks (1-25-14)

It took Mother Nature billions of years to create a rich state of complete harmony throughout the world; it took humans just a few hundred years to destroy it.

It took Mother Nature billions of years to create a rich state of complete harmony throughout the world; it took humans just a few hundred years to destroy it.

A little background. Mother Earth began supporting life four billion years ago. The first humans appeared just 200,000 years ago and it took us 199,800 years to reach the one billion population mark.

Then, in just the next 200 years, we added another six billion people. That’s just a mere blink in the eye of history and here’s how I recently explained that blink to a sixth grade class in New London, CT.

If we crammed that four billion years into just one year, we humans have been around for only the last 26 minutes of the last hour of that year. Even more alarming; in just the past two seconds, we’ve grown from one billion to seven billion. Finally, in just the last one half second, we have inflicted more damage on the fragile harmony of nature than all previous generations of humans combined.

An alien looking down from a spaceship might refer to us humans as the

An alien looking down from a spaceship might refer to us humans as the “infestation” of planet Earth.

How did we do so much damage? A combination of three things:

    • Overpopulation, exceeding the carrying capacity of our planet
    • The way we live, work, travel, and consume STUFF (See video below)

Scientists now agree that Mother Nature cannot sustain the way we are living for very much longer. Many have predicted that our civilization will collapse before the end of this century unless we take some drastic actions soon—like within the next five or ten years. So, what can we do quickly about those three areas of human activity?

    • Curb overpopulation? We’re still adding over 200,000 people per day and it will take many decades, if not centuries, to get this situation under control.
    • Change the way we live? Once again, this will take many decades, if not centuries, to move our entire world economy back to working in harmony with Nature.
    • Change the way we EAT? Not only are our food choices the leading driver of most environmental issues, they are the ONLY major area of human activity that we can change quickly.

Like immediately! In fact, any meat-eating individual can change what they eat practically overnight. I did and I know that millions of others have done the same. And if enough people change quickly, I am confident that our free market system will deliver whatever they choose to eat.

The typical western diet consisting of some form of meat, diary, eggs and/or fish three meals a day

The typical western diet consisting of some form of meat, diary, eggs and/or fish three meals a day

So what’s our diet got to do with sustainability? Almost everything. It turns out that our popular Western diet,  enjoyed by the most affluent two billion people in the world, is the leading cause of water scarcity/pollution, soil erosion, species extinction, global warming, deforestation, world hunger—and the cost of healthcare. You might ask, how could that be?

It begins with the fact that our popular Western diet includes some form of meat, dairy, eggs and/or fish at almost every meal. And, on a per calorie basis, it takes over ten times as much water, over ten times as much land and over ten times as much energy to produce than it does to produce plant-based calories.

In addition, a 2006 U.N. report concluded that livestock cause far more global warming than ALL transportation combined. And unlike transportation which continues to grow rapidly, we could easily eliminate the complete livestock sector—solving all sorts of problems at the same time.

In short, the way we’re eating is extremely harmful, incredibly wasteful and grossly unsustainable. Consider this: If all seven billion humans ate the way we do in the USA, we’d need two or three planet Earth’s to feed them all—we only have one—and she is in trouble.

What about our health? Will nothing but plant-based calories provide us with all the protein and calcium that we need? Don’t we need to at least eat some meat and dairy? Isn’t that what we’ve been told our entire lives? Yes, that is what we have all been told—but it simply is not true.

And even if it were true, it really doesn’t matter because that way of eating is simply not sustainable for very much longer.

Whole plantsAn unprecedented Win–Win. Not only will a rapid move to a plant-based diet do wonderful things for all of our sustainability issues; it will also do wonderful things for our health—provided we consume the healthiest kind of plant-based diet. I am speaking of the one that derives most of its calories from whole, unprocessed, plant foods.

Cigarette smoking analogy. When I was growing up in the fifties, it seemed like almost all adults smoked cigarettes. But nowadays, after numerous massive awareness campaigns and billion dollar lawsuits spanning many decades, smoking is simply not cool anymore. Someday, eating animal-based foods will not be cool either—but our journey to that day is going to be far more arduous than it was with cigarettes. Why is that? Unlike our wildly popular habit of eating animal-based foods, which most still think is good for us…

  1. No one ever thought that smoking cigarettes was good for our health.
  2. No parent ever encouraged their children to smoke cigarettes.
  3. No doctor ever recommended that his/her patients smoke cigarettes.
  4. No schools ever displayed glossy posters urging kids to smoke. (Got Nicotene?)
Although a deadly habit, the collective damage of smoking pales in comparison to the incredibly harmful typical western diet.

Although a deadly habit, the collective damage of smoking pales in comparison to the incredibly harmful and unsustainable typical western diet.

How arduous will our journey be? To answer that, I am reminded of the three stages of truth: Ridicule, Violent Opposition, and Acceptance. Sadly, we are still in Stage One–Ridicule. Once Stage Two begins in earnest, it will take billions of dollars in legal fees to fight the mighty animal-based food industries as the truth about their products begins to take its toll on their revenues.

There will also be casualties as there have been in Brazil where brave citizens have been assassinated for simply being outspoken on behalf of the environment. Even so, this transition must happen and it must happen soon. No less than our civilization and our future as a species hangs in the balance.

Rapid change will require BOLD, well-funded, global ACTION soon!

At the 4Leaf level, you'd be deriving over 80% of your calories from whole, plant-based foods.

At the 4Leaf level, you’d be deriving over 80% of your calories from whole, plant-based foods.

Are we talking vegan or vegetarian? NO.  That would be a real tough sell in today’s world and would only hinder our progress. Our goal is to influence the world’s most affluent two billion people (who are eating over 80% of the meat) to replace the maximum number of their animal-based calories with plant-based calories. The more, the better. And, if they choose the whole food variety of plant-based, they will get the added bonus of vibrant health.

We encourage everyone to try to maximize the percent of their calories from whole, plant-based foods—as it will be a huge Win-Win-Win for the planet, for our collective health and for the out-of-control cost of healthcare that is strangling most Western nations. But I should add that ANY plant based calories (even chips and sweets) are far better for our ecosystem than ANY animal-based calories.

GreenPeace and the Sierra Club, with millions of supporters, are just two of the large groups not telling us the truth about the environmental impacts of our food choices.

GreenPeace; just one of many not telling us the truth about the single biggest cause of our environmental problems.

Most are “comfortably unaware.” Sadly, not a single one of our most prominent environmental groups or schools of sustainability in our universities is visibly sharing this alarming sustainability truth about animal-based food with the public.

In a recent online movie trailer, Michael Pollan explains why they don’t:

“I think they “focus grouped” it and it’s a political loser. They’re membership organizations you know; they’re looking to maximize the number of people making contributions. And if they get identified as being “anti-meat,” it will hurt with their fundraising.

Hurt with their fundraising? Are you kidding me? They’re not telling the public the truth about the most important issue in the history of humankind because of MONEY? Wonder why that is?

How about a little data?—$611,051 That’s what the highest paid CEO of a charitable environmental group was paid in 2012 (Reported by Charity Navigator).

Sounds to me like they’re in the “conscience laundering” business—making people feel good about donating to charity, keeping their own salaries intact; but not really making much of a difference. By not addressing the leading cause of global warming for example, we have no possible chance to avert those rapidly approaching tipping points.

Maybe they’re not telling us the truth because they don’t think the public can handle the truth. Reminds me of the movie, “A Few Good Men” and the famous courtroom scene when Marine Colonel Jessup shouted at Navy Lieutenant Kaffee:

You want the TRUTH?


Jessup Truth

Our experts don’t think the public can handle the truth, so they water down the message—keep meeting their fundraising goals—all the while compromising the sustainability of our ecosystem, our civilization and ultimately the human species. It’s like this: as we’re all “sleepwalking off a cliff,” at least we’ll all be doing the politically correct thing as we plunge to our deaths together.

It is time for this madness to END! Some of our most prominent experts have shared more truths than others—but NONE of them are URGENTLY waking up the sleepwalking public. None of them are consistent in their message and none of them are “walking the walk.”

Please ask your favorite environmental group’s representatives to read this blog and then tell you why they’re not telling people what they need to know—and what they must do—to preserve our planet’s ability to sustain us indefinitely.

As for telling the truth. A few days after posting this blog, I published this one. Titanic Sets Sail Once More—A different ending. Even your third grade child will have no trouble understanding the connection.


Finally, as mentioned earlier, here is the famous “Story of Stuff” video produced in 2007 and seen about three million times on YouTube. A really well-done video although there was not a single mention of the fact that we’re eating the wrong food.

After we fix the all important FOOD PROBLEM, we’ve eventually got to figure out a way to live in harmony with nature on our precious planet. As any third grader can tell you, our current system of unlimited consumption in a finite world is simply not going to work for much longer.

A few of my earlier blogs that touch on this crucial subject:

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

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

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf 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

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

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, visit our 4Leaf page and also enjoy some great recipes from 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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J. Morris Hicks, board member since 2012; click banner for more info:

Nutrition Certificate

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 NOTHING is more important than SUSTAINABILITY!

  1. academy333 says:

    SUSTAINABILITY … this absolutely stimulates our “critical thinking” …

    THANK YOU for your relentless mission – a cause for all humanity. I am a large fan of your work.

    Your book – “4 Leaf Guide to Vibrant Health” – is an educational masterpiece for all of us, and I love the way you’ve been able to “simplify” the massive research you’ve done – it all makes such brilliant sense.

    The other health visionaries you show in your video – Dr. T. Colin Campbell, PhD – Dr. Dean Ornish, MD – Dt Joel Fuhrman, MD – Dr. Neal Barnard, MD – Dr. John Mcdougall, MD – these world renowned health & nutritional experts all have exceptional books too [and successful ‘Functional Medicine’ practices] – they truly support the ‘proven’ plant-based Whole Food lifestyle.

    I always look forward to your weekly e-mails – they teach us SO much!

    Sincerely / Peter A.

    Peter Arnold, CLU, CFC / Canada

  2. Don Nicodemus says:

    Excellent blog! Covers the main issues, and avoids irrelevant issues. Offers something for anyone who wants to do something to save our species: eat plants, avoid Meat and dairy.

  3. Claire Wilson says:

    Great article and very timely for me here in Northern CA where we are in a severe drought as is the entire state. Having lived in Marin during the three years of a very serious drought for us, where we were rationed to 26 gallons per day per person in a household, I’ve always conserved water knowing it is a precious gift that doesn’t come from a faucet. I still have containers for catching the cold water, which most people let go down the drain, while waiting for the warm water in the kitchen and the shower. I use it for watering plants in pots or use for a toilet flush. I am consciously aware of the foods I eat, 41 years ago I became vegetarian, 23 years ago a vegan and 13 years ago to plant based. I’m reminded that I’m one of those who eat to live, meaning I am conscious that I don’t need to overeat and not like so darn many of my family and friends who LIVE to EAT to fulfill their desires. All this preserving the plant and all its precious resources become so ingrained in my consciousness to remind me of our stewardship here on earth.

    Thanks for all the work you do Jim. I bow to your innate wisdom and your efforts.

  4. Joanne Irwin says:

    Great, as always. Read about ‘Urban Agriculture’ and check out what S&S Urban Farming is doing in Fall River, MA. I’ve featured you and your site on my website and in all my classes; however, I’ll feature this in next newsletter. Take care! Keep up the fight!

  5. Excellent update summary of the world sustainability problem and call to action. I’ll flag your blog on my Facebook site.
    And I just posted it all here:

    Great to hear from you again, Jim.
    Bill Kleinbauer. Sat. morn in much warmer CA!

  6. Well done, my friend 🙂

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