Victims, challenges and hope for the future of our species

We must get the world talking about what’s most important.

33 Starving 4BThe food choices of roughly two billion people in the world are responsible for causing horrendous problems for themselves, the other five billion less fortunate people, the other creatures who inhabit our planet and for the ecosystem that sustains us all.

In this blog, I have provided a top ten list of those problems. The issues listed below are the combined effect of a horribly inefficient diet-style that is also very unhealthy for all who eat it. On a per calorie basis, animal-based foods require more than ten times as much land, water and energy than plant-based calories.

As a result of this grossly unsustainable diet-style, we’re rapidly using up our natural resources which will ultimately result in the collapse of our civilization. Meanwhile, we’ve created a tremendous amount of suffering along the way—My top ten list of victims.

Who are the Victims of the Typical Western Diet?

Water CrisisOne. World Hunger. Almost one billion people go to bed hungry every night and forty million children starve to death every year. (Not enough land to grow food for everyone)

Two. Water Scarcity. 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. (Most of our water being used to grow food for animals that we eat.)

Three. Heart Disease. Approximately four million people suffer and die of heart disease each year—a disease that is 95% reversible with a whole food, plant-based diet.

Four. Type 2 Diabetes. Approximately 200 million people suffer from type 2 diabetes—disease that is 95% reversible with a whole food, plant-based diet.

One of the smartest animals, pigs get a bad rap -- most live their complete lives in horrid conditions until they reach their ultimate destiny as part of your breakfast, your pizza topping or your barbecue sandwich.

One of the smartest animals, pigs get a bad rap — most live their complete lives in horrid conditions until they reach their ultimate destiny as part of your breakfast, your pizza topping or your barbecue sandwich.

Five. Animal Suffering. Annually, some 100 billion land animals live their entire lives in horrible conditions until they are brutally killed so that we can eat their flesh.

Six. Oceans in Peril. Over one trillion sea creatures are taken from our oceans each year; some for humans to eat, even more killed by accident (by-kill), and others to feed to other fish in fish farms.

Seven. The World’s Rainforest. Over 30 million acres of rainforest have been destroyed each year since 1970—primarily to use for grazing of farm animals or to grow feed for them to be shipped elsewhere.

Eight. Other Species. The normal rate of species extinction is less than five per year. Scientists estimate that the current rate exceeds 5,000 per year—the dramatic increase driven by human activity; primarily our food choices.

Global warming could be the single biggest problem ever faced by the human species.

Climate change could be the single biggest problem ever faced by the human species.

Nine. Climate Change. Our harmful diet-style is damaging every part of our ecosystem that controls climate: atmosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. We’re not even coming close to the international goals and conditions get worse every year—a looming global disaster for everyone.

Ten. Our Children’s Future. Our harmful and wasteful food choices are negatively impacting all 7.2 billion humans alive today AND all future humans—as we accelerate the race to destroy the precious ecosystem that sustains us.

When does the madness end? As our population surges toward ten billion—driving the need to double our food production in the next 40 years, things are only going to get worse. When do ANY of our prominent leaders start URGENTLY addressing the most important issues in the history of humanity?

A few weeks ago, it seemed that everyone in the USA (maybe  the world) was talking about a rare disease that affects 1/100th of one percent of the population of the United States. But NO ONE is talking about the above list of crises that will ultimately affect every single human—including the 30,000 in the USA who have ALS.

I think it’s time for a SERIOUS global “challenge” to help get things moving in the right direction for ALL of us and for ALL of our future children. A challenge to learn how a mostly-plant-based diet can do wonders for your health, your children’s health and for the health of the ecosystem that sustains us.

Take the 4Leaf-4Week Challenge?

The "4Leaf level" means getting over 80% of my total calories from whole plants.

The “4Leaf level” means getting over 80% of my total calories from whole plants.

What is it? Commit yourself to 4 weeks of consuming mostly whole, plant-based foods. At the 4Leaf level of eating, that means deriving over 80% of your calories from those healthiest of foods.

Getting started. Take the 4Leaf Survey at eCornell’s website  Find out your current level of eating. Read a few books from my store, check out the 4Leaf section of my website, and make a plan. (A printer friendly one-pager of the 4Leaf Survey)

Check out Lisa’s recipes. There are currently two dozen tasty and easy recipes that will help get you started. Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Why 4 weeks? That gives you enough time to enjoy the many benefits of this way of eating. If you commit for 4 weeks, you will not want to return to your old way of eating. You will have begun a lifelong healthy habit that will do more to save our civilization than ALL other steps that you could possibly take.

Forget Meatless Mondays. That’s just an exercise in deprivation that will rarely lead to a truly healthy diet—for you or for the planet.

Sadly, this powerful book of truth has not been read by nearly enough people.

Sadly, this powerful book of truth has not been read by nearly enough people.

Not sure you can do this? Take another look at that list of TEN disasters above and think about the future of your children. Also, take just one hour to read TEN BILLION. Although he doesn’t say it in the book, the author agrees with me that changing what we eat is the single most powerful step we could take to avoid the disasters he predicts.

“Call out” your friends and relatives. After you’ve gotten started on your 4 weeks, send this blog to others who you think might have the courage to follow your lead. It’s not as easy as dumping a bucket of ice on your head—but if enough people do it, this simple step will save our ecosystem and our civilization.

The Bottom Line. There are four primary, human-driven issues that threaten the future of our civilization. They are: Over-population, Over-consumption of STUFF, Dependence on Fossil Fuels and Eating the Wrong Food.

Conveniently, the last one is not only the easiest, quickest and least expensive to address—doing so will deliver, by far, the most health AND environmental benefit in the shortest amount of time.

Eventually, we must also deal with over-population, over-consumption and the excessive burning of fossil fuels—but those tasks will take many decades, if not centuries. Taking URGENT action NOW with our food choices can buy us the time we need to address them all.

List of sources. Extrapolation was used to estimate global numbers when only USA numbers were available.

The following five books and one DVD can be purchased on Amazon for a grand total of less than $60—and will enable you to understand the overwhelming challenges we face—along with the single most-powerful solution of all.

Six-Pack from Hicks—for health, hope & harmony on planet Earth

  1. Healthy Eating, Healthy WorldThe “big picture” about food (our book)
  2. A life changer for millions, including James Cameron. Forks Over Knives DVD 
  3. An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell; the primary book that influenced Bill Clinton to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet.
  4. What have we done to our planet? Full Planet, Empty Plates by Lester Brown
  5. A horrifying wake-up call for leaders. TEN BILLION by Dr. Stephen Emmott
  6. Food choices are the primary cause of our environmental problems, yet our world leaders, scientists & experts are Comfortably Unawareby Richard Oppenlander.

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 2 or 3 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

International. We’re now reaching people in over 100 countries. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or get daily blog notices by “following” us in the top of the right-hand column. For occasional updates, join our periodic mailing list.

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.

—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.
This entry was posted in Activism & Leadership, Sustainability and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Victims, challenges and hope for the future of our species

  1. Sal Liggieri says:

    Well said Jim, I’m listening! But who else is listening?

    Are we still waiting for the “Savior” (?)

    Tell me Jim, with all the misery, suffering, cruelty, and the never-ending wars that afflict our planet, is our civilization worth saving?

    To be human is to be inhumane – that will never change.

    Sal Liggieri

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