HELPING without proselytizing: 4 words you should use often


Survey Image jpg How HealthyThere are 37 concise chapters in our new book and one of them, Chapter 34, deals with the challenge of helping your friends, family and co-workers learn to benefit from healthy eating without alienating them. It is entitled: Proselytizing NOT Recommended. Here is an excerpt:

My guidelines on proselytizing are similar to my thoughts about selling. No one likes to be “sold” anything. I prefer the word “marketing,” which can be described as a subtle process of cultivating a desire to purchase something. Here’s my list of behavioral guidelines on this delicate subject:

  1. Never offer unsolicited advice to anyone.
  2. Don’t make negative comments about an unhealthy looking meal someone else is eating.
  3. Never talk about health or diet with anyone unless they ask for your opinion.
  4. When people do ask for information, try to keep your initial response to a minimum. If they want to know more, they will ask.
  5. Try to keep delicate discussions one-on-one. If someone asks about your eating philosophy in front of a lot of people, try to offer a concise, courteous response–then offer to continue the conversation later, perhaps over a healthy meal.

So you might be thinking, if we can’t tell people about the powerful truths that we have learned, how can we make a difference?” For starters, we can follow this simple advice from Gandhi:

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Coming this summer to an online bookstore near you

Coming this summer to an online bookstore near you

But what else can you do? Now that we have our 4Leaf Survey up and running online, we want you to use it to help your friends, family and co-workers. Just ask them to “take the 4Leaf Survey” at to find out if they are eating better than you are. Try to make a lighthearted game out of the process.

We have found that people like to take surveys and see how they score in comparison to others. Our survey consists of twelve multiple choice questions and can be taken in two minutes.

Upon completion of the twelve questions, the individual will immediately see his/her score, of which there are six possibilities–ranging from the “Unhealthful Diet” level with under 10% of daily calories from whole plant-based foods to the “4Leaf” level, with over 80% of daily calories from those healthiest of foods.

After seeing their score and a concise description of their current eating level, they are also given the opportunity to get the FULL report for that level via email. So if your friend has an interest in learning more, they can have that FULL report in front of them in just a few seconds. And that’s when the learning process really begins.

617 jpeg 4Leaf LogoThat’s because we will now have their email addresses and will use them responsibly to gently guide them down the pathway to vibrant health. Here is a link to the FULL report for the “Better Than Most” level, which is the level where most of your more health-conscious friends are probably now eating. Better Than Most level- Survey Results.

We estimate that 25% of the people in the USA are eating at this “better than most” level and that 65% are currently eating at the lowest “Unhealthful Diet” level. That leaves only 10% that are eating at the 1Leaf level or higher.

We think our 4Leaf Survey is a great way for you to play a big part in getting the majority of humans up to at least the 2Leaf level, which would mean that the average person would then be eating almost ten times more whole plants than they are today. The collective positive impact of that significant dietary shift on human health, the cost of health care, the water crisis, climate change and animal suffering would be staggering.

Why is this a good way to help your friends, family and co-workers begin the journey toward plant-based without alienating them?

Here are my “Six from Hicks” reasons:

  1. It’s fun to take surveys and see how you scored compared to others.
  2. 4Leaf eating is not perceived as extreme or “all or nothing,” like vegan or vegetarian.
  3. The 4Leaf formula implies a little “wiggle room.”
  4. Everyone can continue their 4Leaf “self education” process at their own pace.
  5. It’s a way to “lead a horse to water,” then each individual must decide.
  6. The whole process takes “proselytizing” out of the equation; you’re just passing along a cool survey that they might find interesting.
T. Colin Campbell, PhD, Nutritional Biochemistry, Cornell

T. Colin Campbell, PhD, Nutritional Biochemistry, Cornell

One more thing about the survey and the 4Leaf model in general. Recently, I got an unsolicited endorsement in an email from T. Colin Campbell, PhD, the Cornell professor who led the most comprehensive study of human nutrition ever conducted.

He sent me an email while participating in a high level cancer conference featuring fifty of the world’s top cancer researchers. During that conference, in response to my 4Leaf “vital sign” newsletter, he compared our 4Leaf Survey model to the “very comprehensive survey models” that were being presented by the world’s top cancer specialists that week.

“Your 4Leaf model is one-hundredth the complexity but has real value that may exceed any of these.”

The Bottom Line. The 4Leaf Survey is a powerful tool that can be used sort of like a stealth bomber; subtly helping the people who you care about learn to take charge of their health AND do some wonderful things for the environment at the same time.

As Dr. Campbell implies above, our survey is not a gimmick, it is a serious tool–and it just may become the world’s most powerful vehicle for helping people everywhere begin the process of learning what they should be eating. Who knows? The 4Leaf Survey Score might also be  the next “Vital Sign” in the World of Medicine. So, in closing, I ask you to:

Use those “FOUR WORDS” often. We’ll take it from there.

You can lead the horse to water; we’ll try to get her to take a sip.

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. eCornell is now using our survey in their plant-based nutrition course. Check it out on your smartphone at

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 Program 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.
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3 Responses to HELPING without proselytizing: 4 words you should use often

  1. Robert Thatcher says:

    Such great advice. Will try emailing the survey when friends ask. It’s been hard for me to keep my mouth shut when the consequences are planetary, when unnecessary heart disease is impacting so many friends, when so many animals suffer daily. It’s also natural to want to share new-found health. But you are right – there’s nothing worse than approaching anyone with an attitude of dietary superiority, purity or judgement. And if the True North folks are right – that Salt-Oil-Sugar and the rich western diet are addictive- lecturing doesn’t even work.

  2. Joanne Irwin says:

    My tongue is sore. Been biting it a lot, especially when my hubby indulges in ribs, sausages, etc. Not easy, but I’ve learned that his and others’ choices are just that – THEIR choices. When I’m asked where I get my energy, I simply say plant based foods! When my grandson tells me, “Nana, when you sit on the floor with us, you can get up but my other granny can’t.” I tell him, “Eat good healthy food – plants – and you’ll keep on moving, too.” Your advice is timely. I’m going to print it and keep on my frig!!!!

  3. says:

    Love it!! Love it!!! K

    Sent from my iPhone


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