The tragic passing of a great environmental activist

The founder of Esprit and The North Face, Doug Tompkins

Kris and Doug Tompkins. She is the former CEO of Patagonia.

Kris and Doug Tompkins. She is the former CEO of Patagonia.

As a veteran of the fashion world, I have known about Doug Tompkins for many decades, although I never met him. And, I never will, because sadly he died yesterday in Chile while doing what he loved–enjoying the natural beauty of nature. 

How did this great environmentalist feel about our love affair with eating animals? From what I have learned so far, he was like almost every other great environmentalist out there, in that he rarely mentioned what we eat, just how we produce it.

Sadly, I know of only one well-known environmentalist who has fully connected the dots and knows that our typical western diet of meat, dairy, eggs and/or fish three meals a day is without a doubt the elephant in the room when it comes to most of our most urgent environmental crises. More about him later.

Esprit-CasualSince hearing about his accidental death this morning, I have learned much more about Mr. Tompkins than I ever knew. And it turns out, we were close to the same age and we have both become passionate about the same topic: The Sustainability of Life on Planet Earth. In order to give you a feel for what I have learned about this great man, I will share a few of his quotes from a 2013 NY Times article entitled There is no sustainable business. (See link to article below.)

I share these comments with you now because I agree with everything he had to say. But, I believe most strongly in what he apparently NEVER said, “That radically moving away from eating animals is the ONLY way we’re going to buy enough time to fix all the other environmental problems we are facing.” For unless we change what we eat soon, his final comment below may very well come true.

logoRemove ‘sustainable’ from your dictionary, there is no sustainable business. Only biological sustainability counts.

Economic activity has impact and we are just now doing a better job of measuring what those impacts are

We have an economy that’s based on growth without limits. How is that possible? To grow and grow and grow without limits is out of the question.

Healthy biodiversity is at the base of everything, with species extinction being the ultimate catastrophe. We’ll be living on a sand heap with a Norwegian rat and a few cockroaches at the end.

In the following 20-minute video, there is a continuous stream of examples of unsustainable human behavior, things like: overpopulation, overgrazing, industrial aquaculture, fossil energy, combustion engine, etc. It almost includes everything that we do; therefore, probably causing most people to think that trying to fix it is hopeless.

Sadly, he never mentions the single first step of changing what we eat. We simply have to make it simple for people everywhere that saving our ecosystem can begin with a powerful step that most people can make overnight. By simply moving toward a whole food, plant-based diet, we’ll not only help buy humanity enough time to fix all those other issues, but we’ll also do some wonderful things for the physical health of every member of each of our families.

Maybe some other influential environmentalists will read this article and will then read my 2014 article about the simple solution. NOTHING is more Important than Sustainability!

A 2014 Tomkins video entitled “The Fate of the World”

I mentioned that I only know of one famous environmentalist who totally “gets it” about food. His name is James Cameron and he is now working on the sequels to Avatar, a movie with a powerful environmental message.

James Cameron, director of Titanic and Avatar, the top grossing films of all time

James Cameron, director of Titanic and Avatar, the top grossing films of all time

I once told Jim that I had concluded that he “was the most influential person on the planet who totally gets it about the consequences of our food choices.” After considering it for a moment, he reluctantly agreed that I was probably right.

Relevant articles:

The following six books 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. 4Leaf Guide to Vibrant Health, powerful new book by Kerry Graff, MD and yours truly
  2. Healthy Eating, Healthy WorldThe “big picture” about food (my first book)
  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. Primary cause of cancer is not bad luck. Stop Feeding Your Cancer, by John Kelly, MD
  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 you are eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes about two minutes. eCornell is now using our survey in their plant-based nutrition course.

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 website, which is now being used by an ever-growing army of enlightened medical doctors who are fed up with “disease care” and want to promote true health for their patients.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at

—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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s