J Morris Hicks

J Morris Hicks

Posted April 17, 2012

Published in Health

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Not much "health promotion" going on at VegFest

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Most exhibitors featured food that was just "not animals"

On a warm and sunny spring day in Worcester, Massachusetts---Dr. T. Colin Campbell was the highlight of the event as he he addressed a standing-room-only crowd at 1 p.m. He attended the show with his wife and grandson and was there primarily to promote his daughter's Whole Plant Cookbook and to continue spreading the word about plant-based nutrition.

Dr. Campbell was a big hit at the VegFest. The man standing in the top right corner of the photo is the Holy Cross professor who invited me to speak at one of his classes in February. He reports that our book has made a big difference for him, his family and for many of his students. 

Highlights of the show for the 4Leaf Team

  1. There was great interest in our 4Leaf Survey as we administered it to about 100 people.
  2. We sold all but two of the books that we brought with us.
  3. Many people who had read our book stopped by our table to tell us what a difference it had made in their lives.
  4. We added many new names to our database.
  5. We had a chance to work together as a team for the first time---Jason, Lisa, Andrew and me.
The authors are all set up and ready for the show. Don't miss the last photo of our youngest 4Leaf team member.

Vibrant health? Although I didn't get a chance to walk around the show, Jason told me that there were only 2 out of nearly 100 tables that were promoting vibrant health --- ours and Dr. Campbell's. Most of the exhibitors were giving away free food and none of it was 4Leaf. Catering to new vegetarians, they had lots of fake meats, cheeses, and sweets---with nary a whole plant in sight. Not animals, but not healthy either.

Meanwhile, at our table, we administered the 4Leaf Survey to a steady stream of interested people all day. Here's how they scored on our 12-question survey---with the number of people at each level listed first:

Our 4Leaf survey estimates the % of daily calories from whole, plant-based foods.
  • # ----- level     % of calories from whole plants
  •  9  --- 4Leaf            Over 80%
  • 13 --- 3Leaf            60 to 79%
  • 15 --- 2Leaf           40 to 59%
  • 26 --- 1Leaf            20 to 39%
  • 23 --- "BTM"         10 to 19% (Scoring "better than most")
  • 14 --- "Unhealthy"   < 10%      (The "majority of Americans are in this group)

As you can see from the above, only about 25% of the people scored at 3Leaf or better on our survey. But this is much better than the scores that we would see in the real world. For example, if we surveyed 100 people at a McDonalds on a Friday night, we'd find less than 3% at those levels, if any. And we'd likely find 65% or more in the "unhealthy" category with less than 10% of their calories from whole plants.

Vegan is not necessarily healthy. I have made this statement many times---in our book, on this blog and in our speeches. And this was proven at the VegFest by a self-described "vegan" woman who took our survey. She actually tallied the lowest score of the day---reporting that she eats zero daily servings of whole fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes.

She admitted that she's not eating a very healthy diet; but she is not alone in the world of vegans and vegetarians---most are focusing primarily on what they're NOT eating. Hopefully, our survey will help her make some much-needed improvements in her diet.

Obesity at VegFest? Yes, there was a fair amount but not nearly as much as you'd see at Walmart on Saturday. And many of those obese folks are fairly new to being vegetarian and others are suffering from eating disorders. That being said, if they loaded up on all the "unhealthy" free vegan food at the event, their obesity would not improve.

Our conclusion. Even uninformed vegetarians are eating a much healthier diet than the average American. But this wasn't your average "vegetarian" crowd. Based on the throng of people trying to get into the Dr. Campbell portion of the event, my guess is that most people attended the conference primarily to see and hear Dr. Campbell. And that kind of group as a rule is going to be more knowledgeable about what constitutes a health-promoting diet.

The bottom line. For me, this was a very worth-while event. It was great to visit with people who are moving in the direction of plant-based eating---for whatever reason. So you can expect to see us at more VegFest events in the future.

Scroll down for a few more photos

Dr. Campbell reviewing our 4Leaf Survey yesterday in Worcester--- before the VegFest began.

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

This photo was taken from our table---looking across at Dr. Campbell's table on the same level.

Finally---one more photo of our youngest 4Leaf team member

Middle grandson, Andrew (9), sitting with his "GranBuddy" just before the show began.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation



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