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Occupy Wellness and Eat-In: The Power of the Fork – Part One

Occupy Wellness and Eat-In: The Power of the Fork – Part One

We each own a secret weapon that weighs only a few ounces. If this was strategically deployed for one day, we could transform our world into a better place. We could end obesity and chronic disease, revitalize our children’s health, achieve academic excellence, topple corrupt governments, restore our depleted soils, replenish our vanishing aquifers and reverse climate change.

What is this weapon?  It’s your fork.

It is more powerful than any other tool we can use to end most of the world’s problems.

How did we achieve civil and women’s rights? How did Gandhi liberate India? How did we end the Vietnam War?  How did the Berlin Wall fall, bringing down with it the monolithic Soviet Union and its Iron Curtain? How did the Arab Spring topple despots in a few weeks?

Civil disobedience.

We just refused to accept things as they are; we collectively stood up to the oppression that weighed us down. Today, our bodies and our health are being held hostage by food terrorism. With every bite of industrial food, we contribute to the destruction of our health, our economy, and the environment.

That is why I want to create a grassroots civil disobedience movement around food.

Join the “Eat-In”

I call it a global Eat-In.  You can join the movement by signing up for the first global Eat-In on April 7, 2013. Join me and thousands (maybe millions) of others as we cook and eat real food with family members and friends at home for just one day.

I will provide you with all the tools you need to joint the Eat-In.  Stay tuned for more information in the next few weeks (Updated: Click here to join the Eat-In).

Imagine if, just for one day, we all chose to buy only fresh, whole, real, sustainably-raised or harvested food, food that heals both our body and our environment.  If we only buy foods without labels, foods that come from nature, and avoid any food made or processed in a factory or altered from its original state.

Imagine if we cooked and ate all those meals at home with family and friends (or made them at home and brought them with us to work or school).  Imagine if, suddenly, we didn’t buy the 1 billion Cokes consumed around the world everyday or add to the “billions served” at McDonald’s.  Imagine if we could boycott the $1 trillion processed and fast food industry for just one day.  Imagine what a ripple effect that would have.

It will take only one day to change everything.   We only get what we accept.  The crisis affecting us now is our greatest threat to freedom.  But it is more subtle, more insidious.

It affects billions of people and robs our children of productive, healthy futures.  It deprives us of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, the very foundation of our democracy.

And most of us quietly, hopelessly, endure, waiting for someone else to solve the problem.  Henry David Thoreau said we “live lives of quiet desperation”. We think the problem is just too big.  “How, you may think, “Can I fight Big Food, Big Agriculture, Big Pharma, and the government policies that support them?

But this is a very small problem.  It is the size of your fork.  It can be solved in your kitchen and by what you put on your fork.  It is a very local problem, as local as your mouth.

Our most powerful tool to reverse the global epidemic of chronic disease, heal the environment, reform politics, and revive economies is the fork.  What we put on it has tremendous implications, not just for our waistlines but also for the planet and our global economy. What we do to our bodies we do to the planet and what we do to the planet we do to our bodies.

How What We Eat Makes Us Sick and Harms the Environment

We are now suffering from an invisible epidemic of global sickness—162 million Americans have chronic diseases, 29 million people across the globe die each year from preventable lifestyle diseases (soon to be 50 million) killing twice as many as infectious disease. And 1.5 billion people are now overweight; almost double the number of those who are malnourished (870 million).(i)  Eighty percent of the world’s type 2 diabetics are in the developing world.(ii)

The harm we do to our bodies is linked in a complex web to the harm we do to the planet, to the degradation of our environment, air, and water, and to the future we are stealing from our children.  We are depleting nature’s capital and our human capital.

Nature’s capital, once destroyed, cannot be reclaimed.  One acre of arable land is lost to development every minute of every day. Raising one pound of meat requires 2,000 gallons of water and produces 58 times more greenhouse gasses than 1 pound of potatoes. It takes 7,000 pounds of grain to feed the animals that produce 1,000 pounds of meat. Irrigation is depleting our Ogallala Aquifer on the Great Plains 1.3 trillion gallons faster than it can be replenished by rainfall.(iii)

Three quarters of our fresh water (only 5 percent of all the earth’s water) is used for agriculture, mostly to grow meat for human consumption. Water scarcity and the desertification of our agricultural lands are proceeding at a frightening pace.(iv)

But we have the power to change that.  For example, if we all switched out one factory farmed meat meal for one vegetarian meal each week it would be the equivalent of taking half a million cars off the road.

Driving a Hummer and being a vegetarian produces less greenhouse gases than driving a Prius and eating factory farmed meat.  Yet, when the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) encouraged us to participate in “Meatless Mondays” the National Cattleman’s Beef Association lobbied the government to retract their recommendation. And they did.

The next time you pick up your fork, think of the personal and global impact of what you put on it.

I am not a vegetarian, but I would suggest that our modern cow is the 21st century equivalent of the atom bomb threatening our survival. A bold statement to be sure, but the cow is the nexus at which food, the health of the human species, and the heath of the planet, are inextricably linked.

When we bite down on a hamburger or T-bone steak, we think we are eating a cow. But we are not. Our modern cow has been transformed into a by-product of corn—and not just any corn—but a mountain of corn that has been genetically altered to be resistant to pesticides and herbicides and is grown in vast monocultures. This corn is high in sugar, starch, and health-destroying polyunsaturated fats.

It is “Frankencorn”, and it is hidden not only in the meat we eat but also in every processed food product in the country in the form of high fructose corn syrup. It blankets the nutritional landscape of America (and, increasingly, the world) driving the epidemics of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Each year, ten billion bushels of corn are grown in America, most of which we don’t eat in a form we can recognize as corn. Sixty percent of our corn production is used to feed cows and other livestock.(v)  It is also used to fuel our cars, it is the major ingredient in processed and fast food, and it is the major cause of obesity and diabetes. Biofuel gasoline, meat, and junk food alike are all by-products of corn.

The Native Americans gave corn to pilgrims so they could survive on this new continent, and now, ironically, it will be our demise.

But the problems with the cow don’t end there. The bulk of oil and fossil fuels we consume is not used to power the cars we drive. Instead, it is found in the foods we eat. One-fifth of the world‘s oil consumption is used for food production and transport. And it takes sixteen times more energy to produce six ounces of meat than to produce a cup of broccoli, a cup of eggplant, a cup of cauliflower, or a cup of rice.

Eating a meal of beef also produces 24 times more greenhouse gases than do carbon emissions because of the methane and nitric oxide produced by cow flatulence.(vi)  Cows are ruminants meant to graze on grasses and the bacteria in their stomachs cannot digest grains (corn).

Grain simply sits in a cow’s stomach and ferments. The gas produced by the fermentation of corn in cows’ stomachs is one of the largest contributors to global warming.

Agriculture is responsible for an estimated 14 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. A significant portion of these emissions come from methane, which, in terms of its contribution to global warming, is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Cattle rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalents, than does transportation.(vii)

So you see, what you put on your fork is more important than the car you drive, for both your health and the environment.

In my NEXT blog I will explain how to join the Eat-In and celebrate real whole, fresh, sustainably raised and grown food and help transform the future of food (Updated: Click here to join the Eat-In)!

Get started today!  Get your copy of The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook today.  When you purchase this book from this link you will gain access to these exclusive bonuses:

  • 1-Week Gluten-Free Meal Plan – Maps out a full week of breakfasts, lunches and dinners PLUS all new recipes for these.
  • Access to my “In the Kitchen with Dr. Hyman” videos – Including cooking demos, fridge and pantry makeover, supermarket shopping tips, and more.  Over 60 minutes of footage.
  • You will be invited to a live online presentation hosted by me on March 27th, 2013.

Click here to learn more.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD


i Yach D et al The global burden of chronic disease. JAMA. 2004;291:2616-22.
iii The Prince’s Speech: On the Future of Food, Rodale, 2012
iv Brown, Lester, World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, W. W. Norton & Company, January 6, 2011
v Pollan M, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Penguin, 2007.
vi Ibid.

Mark Hyman MD is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

Comments (42)

  • We will offer this up to our school communities and see if we can get you some pictures. Enjoying the 3 day detox / spring tune-up!

  • Dear Dr. Hyman,

    I loved the case you made for avoiding beef and the statistics you share related to the impact of meat eating on our planet. Given that, I am wondering….

    What AREN’T you a vegetarian? Paleo is so big right now. What and how much do you suggest we eat in terms of animal products/protein and or other forms of protein that are plant based–not just for our health, but also for the health of the planet? Soy is certainly out and unless you are very skilled at food combining and put a lot of thought into meal planning, it’s hard to get our needs met. Some people seem to meet more protein than others.

    I do have both your books, by the way, but still wondering about how you suggest we balance these issues for integrity.

    Thanks, Sarah

    • The demonization of meat, as discussed by Dr Hyman, applies specifically to CAFO meat (factory farmed).

      According to Joel Salatin, grazing animals would lead to sequestering carbon. He says if every food animal were naturally raised, we could sequester excess carbon in about 10 years.

      I have no ability to support or refute this statement but its clear that naturally raised cattle have nothing to do with corn.

      • Jan, you are correct, and that is exactly what I thought after reading this article. Eating meat is a normal and healthy thing for humans (we are evolved to eat meat and fats) – what is NOT normal and healthy is eating CAFO meat. For those who say that we cannot possibly produce enough grass-fed meat to feed the human population, my response is that you are probably correct, but the reason for that is overpopulation – consumption of sustainably-produced meat is NOT a problem in terms of human nutrition and health (in fact it is very healthy). We have to be careful not to confuse what types of food are healthy for humans with what is healthy for a planet which is horribly overpopulated.

    • Why is soy “certainly out”? Non-GMO soy (especially if water-washed – minimally processed), is a healthy form of protein. And if we get a large variety of plants, we don’t need to put a ton of thought into food combining – we don’t need all of the amino acids at every single meal, just need to be getting a large variety of fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains every day, and we’ll be getting what we need.

  • I am 60 years old, and I have been a vegetarian since I was about 5 yrs. old. I have always preferred fresh, clean, tasty veggies to any kind of meat. I don’t even eat fish or chicken, and I have lived a very healthy life!

  • Yes, I too wonder why with all your vast knowledge you do not promote a more vegan lifestyle which is by far the more healthier way to go. I do enjoy a lot of your recipes. Since I stopped eating animal products as well as all processed food I feel like a new person. I am a 63 year-old and wished I had learned about healthy eating many decades ago. I still like to watch you and listen to your blogs. You are definitely on the right path. Keep up the good work.

    Linda Parks

  • Dear Dr. Hyman,

    Like Sarah, I am also curious to know your suggestion of the amount of meat protein to consume each week. I just finished planning out our week’s meals and it took two hours. I managed to keep meat out and have fish in there for one dinner. This is quite difficult and was not accomplished without dairy. I am not comfortably with processed soy, so we stick with cheese. Would love your thoughts on these items.

    Thank you,
    Belinda, Mom of a 6 and 2 year old

    • Hi Belinda,

      Dr Hyman would suggest you have 4-6 ounces of clean protein- poultry, fish, shellfish, wild meat, non GMO whole soy (tempeh, tofu etc.) with each meal. Having a variety of these high biological value proteins is key for sustaining energy, boosting metabolism and normalizing hormones such as insulin. Try to aim for 30-40 ounces of wholesome animal protein per week, the rest can be plant-based. For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • Very good and good animal products acidic too and no real connection with God – acidic = anger, frustration.

  • Incredibly powerful. As a middle school educator in a Chicago Public School located within a large Hispanic community, I see the devastation of our children’s bodies daily.

    I forwarded this article to my colleague who is one of our physical education instructors and is responsible for helping our school move into the silver medal category of a ‘Wellness School’. It has not been easy, as processed food and sweets are an addiction for students and staff alike.

    I will certainly honor the April 7th date, however, for me it’s pretty much dining as usual.

  • I was so happy to read about your suggestion for the upcoming event. We are on our way to becoming vegetarian totally and perhaps more, based on the video and books, “Forks Over Knives”. It makes sense for the environment, the economy and for the health of this country. The wheat of the 1950’s is not the wheat of today. Perhaps all of the genetic modification is having a much larger impact than anyone could have imagined.

  • Thank you for speaking truth with such passion. It is a fresh of breath air to hear the truth spoken so plainly and clearly in today’s culture. Several years ago, it was your book UltraMetabolism that set me on such an exciting health journey. Thank you again and I’ll be joining you on April 7th!

  • adopting a vegetarian diet is not difficult, you do need to think a bit more about protein sources so you dont end up eating too many carbs, and there are a few things you have to supplement, like DHA omega 3s, B12, and a few more. It is such a wonderful thing to do for yourself and your planet. People ask what can i do to become more green, and doing this is such a huge leap into green, there is nothing greater you can do in that regard, and you dont have to live with the thoughts of ordering the death of many wonderful animals. If you think deeply about it, you will see how significant this is. Einstein was a vegetarian for mainly one reason, and that was to follow the instructions given in the Bhagavad Gita to not kill innocent animals with his fork. Think about it…

  • I love your passion!!! God Bless you!! Keep up the good fight you are helping our country to change our health!!!

  • I won’t be in the states on that date, but I started using my fork to make a difference a long time ago. I’m all for this.

  • I have been following your ultra wellness for over a year now and I have never felt better. Our family will definitely join you on April 7th.

  • The is no such thing as global warming. Although I have enjoyed many of your emails, I believe it is time to unsubscribe. Pleas fleet e my email address from your list of subscribers.

  • I love what you wrote. It seems like a great way to make a dent in a horrible problem, but can’t imagine these meat lovers ever completely giving up their meat. They’d rather go down kicking and screaming than do what is necessary. Perhaps people just don’t realize what options they have beyond meat. It is one of the reasons why I chose to become a holistic health coach– to offer people guidance on how to live a healthy life, with viable easy options beyond the standard American diet. I’m in for the Eat In. And I will spread the word!!

  • Vegetarians need to understand that their way is not healthy for everyone. Most vegetable protein foods also contain a lot of carbohydrates, and even complex carbs can cause hypoglycemic reactions in a lot of people. These people may start out eating moderate amounts of brown rice to complement the protein in beans and find themselves having constant sugar cravings. I was a vegetarian for three years and cooked meals that were high in vegetable protein while also carefully avoiding white sugar and white flour. Nevertheless, during that time I suffered from low energy, depression, and hunger between meals, and gained thirty pounds that I have been unable to shed. I also developed allergies to soy, wheat, and sesame. Moderation is the key — lots of fresh organic fruits and vegetables and moderate amounts of grains, beans, eggs, non-fat dairy products, low-toxin fish, and poultry. So John and Sarah, please spare us the pious exhortations and show a little more consideration for your fellow humans.

  • We do this Eat In thing everyday! So, yes we will be joining you on April 7th!

    Another great book about processed food is the End of Overeating. If you read The Blood Sugar Solution and the End of Overeating, you will not want to eat out anymore.

    There is one restaurant we like to eat at where the food is prepared fresh. We go there once a week and that’s it. After not eating out, especially at chain restaurants, for about a year now, I had to eat at a chain restaurant because of a party we were invited to. The food was so disgusting! Once you get off the salt, fat, sugar, chemicals garbage food, your taste buds wake up. You no longer taste what the food is supposed to taste like, but you really truly taste your food. Once you quit eating out, the food at restaurants tastes like chemical soup. Everyone around me was raving about how great it was and I could barely gag down my salad with chicken on it.

    It’s not that hard to cook your meals and eat fresh healthy food once you get used to it. I have all manner of coolers for bringing food with us, lots of thermoses for hot food and lots of little glass and stainless steel containers ( NO plastics!) for cold foods. Lunch doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair. Cut up veggies, portable fruits like apples and oranges, gluten free crackers, some meat and cheese.

  • How hilarious. Hyman has gone full partisan with his use of the “Occupy” language. Your mission to politicize health will fail.

  • What is profound is the fact that the food we eat is so altered that it has caused so much disease. I believe this is the true focal point and the rest will follow. Eating real. No easy task.But it means everything to our future.

  • I understand the “modern corn-raised beef delimma; I am curious what your thoughts are concerning wild meats, i.e. venison, bison, etc. Would these not be much better for you than “modern” beef?

    • Hi Brenda!

      Dr Hyman supports the moderate intake of wild, grass fed sustainably raised meat. You can see where he recommends sourcing your wild meat by going to
      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • I agree with Dr. Hyman. Big Ag, Big Pharma and Big Government are ruining the health of Americans.

  • WOW. A lot of agenda driven statistics presented in this article but the proof has not been available for those stats from other than those agenda driven sources. A lot of blame passed around but no recognition of the need to feed large populations. Have to side with Madeleine. I have tried raw and more vegetarian eating but can not get the fiber and nutrients my body needs. I have a hard time digesting vegetables, especially when raw. And in order to get enough fiber, you have to eat tons of kale or lots of fruit which is sugar and you gain lots of weight. I am allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts and wheat. Try to get what you need with that. I agree that there are things that we can do to eat more healthy food and it is a shame that schools don’t help teach children where there food come from (without an agenda) or what a green pepper is. I think Dr. Hyman is on to some good ideas. But solving all the worlds problems requires a study of history and how we got here.

  • When I became chronically ill at age 34, I was an overactive, overachiever who was trying to win “the game” of American culture, do…do…do..and do some more! I was smart; I was talented, but I could never do enough. Than my bottom fell out, and the universe sent me a stark message through a seizure, “You better be done with doing everything and do one thing or your not going to do anything.” That’s when I changed the culture of my home dramatically and made dining in, at the table, on whole foods its mainstay. We also started growing our own food. It changed things dramatically. Yes, it takes time and energy, but what better use of our time and energy than building a solid foundation for life.

    I really think “home cooking” disappeared from American culture when the two income family became its norm. When both partners in the family are working, it’s almost impossible to find the time to make a meal. I’m all for women’s liberation, but I also think that as a culture, the only work that carries “legitimacy” is done in the “official” business workspaces and that homemaking is looked upon as “silly”. It’s kind of like being an artist. Whether the man or the woman, someone needs to be at home doing this work or it’s not going to get done.

  • What a WONDERFUL idea, i am happy and proud to participate in such an important event. This is pretty much how we eat most days, and i look forward to hearing about my kids’ days at dinner every night (cuz i’m fully aware that in a few years it will be a lot harder to do). but i will be conscious of avoiding those little extra trips for lattes, etc…

    The fact that it’s also my birthday makes it even more symbolic and special!!! What a wonderful gift for myself and my family too.

  • I did no know any of the facts described above but for year I have discourage my patient of eating meat
    What you eat from the moment you are born is the cause of having or not a good health.
    Is a problem of Public Health and Education

  • I am 60 years old living between a 6 year old grandchild and a 90 year old mother. Mom is in excellent health for her age; she eats very little meat, has soup and smaller portions for lunch daily and is only on 3 medications, down from the 6 or 7 two years ago (my initiative.) I do have to remind her to drink her water and keep her sodium intake up, but her life and health is a tribute to eating in a poor family (mostly vegetables, eggs, free range chickens, little dairy) and walking everywhere as a child. Up until a few years ago, she was pulling weeds in her yard and driving her car. My health is extremely healthy except for “diabesity” weight I think is hidden in the foods I select, despite reading all labels. My sister followed that path and died from diabetes complications. You are on the right track there, it’s not a way to die (circulation, vision, breathing deterioration.)
    My grandchild is a typical kid in that she only eats selected (translate: pizza, chicken nuggests, carrots, peas, yogurt, peanut butter, pancakes) items. This limit brought on by her dad who taught her his (ieTacoBell) idea of food and the word, yucky at age 3. I do my best to blend beets into tomato sauce and bananas in shakes (organic milk or almond milk only) to put a dent in her nutrition. The problem seems to be with kids is that if there is “texture” to the food, like lumps and bumps in the tomato sauce, or green things like parsley, it won’t be eaten. I keep trying to get her to eat fruit for it’s own sake, not “McD’s apple fries” kind of mindset.
    Kids are bombarded with they hype and packaging wars on TV, another issue.
    As a retired teacher, I’d like to see ALL SCHOOLS ban soda machines and slushies in the cafeterias for starters.
    Good luck.

  • Mark, I am so excited about the Eat In. I already have four of your books, have done your detox and am currently going thru your cookbook. As a health coach, i am focusing on anti-inflammation, so your work is a wealth of support to me and my clients.

    regarding the Eat in, i would love to have a flier or poster to print….tomorrow I am meeting with a group of local farmers….had hoped to have something to give them.

    I believe this movement will gain incredible momentum.

  • Yes Jan is right! Go to the TED talks website and watch a 20 minute talk by Allan Savory “How to green the desert and reverse climate change”. And Joel Salatin is a genius – he calls himself a grass farmer – and produces lots of incredibly healthy meat (as a former vegetarian that still sounds odd to me) on his small farm (Polyface Farm). My family eats only wild-caught meat that is more often than not from our backyard, and does observe several meatless days a week. But meat can and should be a healthy part of our diet, and grass-fed is a completely different product than factory-farmed. And, as you will learn from Allan, meat can also save the world.

  • Really it is very useful post & I like to read these types of post & thanks for sharing such type of posts…

  • The wealth of information given is really useful and can easily be passed on to friends, family, and even those at community gatherings! I just wish good information didn’t have to come at a price, because some of us just can’t afford to buy the books, etc, but if the’re available at public libraries it would spread the word even more! Thanks again.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      This is a great suggestion, thank you for taking the time to write.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I just saw your program on the “ultra simple diet” and signed up for your newsletter and wish to order this publication. Thank you.