SPEAKER 1: Today
we're excited to have John Mackey, the founder
and CEO of Whole Foods for the second time on
The Talks at Google Stage. Last time John was
here, he was talking about his book, "Conscious
Capitalism," which is about how businesses can
be profitable but also serve a higher purpose. I think that's something we can
all relate to here at Google. Today, however, John is here
to talk about his latest book, "The Whole Foods Diet,"
but it's about how a plant-based lifestyle can help
us live longer and live well. So can we have a big round
of applause for John Mackey. [APPLAUSE] JOHN MACKEY: I'm
excited about this book. I'm very proud of it. This kind of sums up my 39 years
of healthy living experiments and kind of what I've learned. I wrote it with– how many of you saw the
film "Forks Over Knives?" Anybody see those films? And the two doctors that
were the two young doctors in the film, Alona Pulde
and Matt Ledderman, they work for Whole Foods.

And so they are my
co-authors in the book, because I'm a
grocer, not a doctor. So good when somebody asks me
those tough medical questions to say, I'm not a
doctor, but this is what Matt and Alona say. So this presentation I'm about
to make, I've got to tell you, I'm looking at a
very young audience. You're all bulletproof still. But it's kind of
depressing, the statistics I'm going to put forth. Also, I'm looking at a
very young but also looks like a very healthy and
health-conscious audience. So some of this will– well, the numbers are
true, even if they don't apply to you or your friends. So we are an incredibly
unhealthy nation. And most people don't realize
how unhealthy America is. But by most world
health indicators, we do not score very highly.

And you can see here that what's
the leading causes of death in the United States,
heart disease is still the leading killer. Cancer has just about caught it. But if you add stroke into
the cardiovascular category, along with heart
disease, heart disease is still very far ahead. Interestingly
enough, medical care itself is the third leading
cause of death in our country. And then the diseases that would
kill us about 100 years ago in the early 1900s were
the infectious diseases. And those have largely
been wiped out. They're not the same kind
of killers they were. If you went back
100 years ago, they were dying from tuberculosis,
and they were dying from– they didn't have
any antibiotics. So they'd get infections, and
they did get blood poisoning and die off. So our problem now is that
the things that are killing us are life-style diseases–
dietary lifestyle diseases primarily. And medical care being the
third leading cause of death is not something that
doctors want to tell people.

But adverse drug
effects, far more people die from prescription
drugs in America than die from illegal drugs
by many factors every year. And primarily because
of the interactions of these different drugs
that people are taking, combined with the type
of infections people get when they go into hospitals. So those two together
are the lion share. And plus just stupid
mistakes that hospitals make. That's the third leading cause
of death for medical care. Here are the grim statistics. We're now up to
71% of all adults in this country are overweight– 71%. And 38% of adults are now obese. The thing is, the trend lines
are still not leveled off. They are continuing
to steadily climb. And obesity is now
estimated to cost our nation about $190 billion a year. So it's gone from 15% obesity
in the US back in 1971 to now it's about 38%, the
statistic I gave before. So it's more than doubled
in the last 40 years. And it's not just a problem
in the United States, it's a problem across the world. Again, this does not look like
it did before I turned it over here.

But you can see
the blue represents where these countries were
in obesity back in 1980. And you can see what's
happened since 2008. And this is
primarily, we've begun to export our dietary
patterns of eating that we do in the United
States across the world. And the result is a
crisis in obesity. And the United States
is the fattest country, but you will see that the
UK, Mexico, and South Africa are close behind. And the trend lines show
that Mexico will probably pass up the United
States sometime in the next decade or so
for the fattest country in the world, a dubious honor. This is probably
the most disturbing is what's happened to children. 17% of the children alive today
between the ages of 2 and 19 are now already obese– not just overweight,
they're obese. And 70% of children
under 12 years of age already show signs of
heart disease at age 12. And already 19% are showing
dietary related chronic disease conditions. How has it happened? Oh, I know what's happened.

We've eaten more. We have more calories. And this is the truth
that's not spoken. We eat, per capita,
25% more calories than we did 40 years ago. So we're eating more
calorie-dense foods. And that's why we're fatter. It's not rocket science. We are simply eating the
wrong kinds of foods, and we're eating a
lot more calories. So if you look at the
different food groups where we've increased,
so sugar is usually held out as a scapegoat,
and I am certainly not going to defend sugar. Sugar is not a healthy food. But it's usually held out. You have books, the Gary Taubes
and all the low-carb people are making sugar into
the villain nutrient. And sugar did increase per
capita in the last 40 years. It went up about 10% from
where it was 40 years ago on a per capita basis.

So sugar has increased. But by far, by far,
the biggest increases have been in three
major categories. The first one, oils– vegetable oils. We're now eating
about 67% more oil that we ate 40 years ago
on a per capita basis. And I blame the
Mediterranean diet for that, because people became
convinced that olive oil was a health food. And if you look at the
history of the Mediterranean diet in the
Mediterranean countries, what they were doing when
they did the research, they discovered that, yes,
the Mediterranean people down in Crete and Sardinia and some
of the Mediterranean countries that had these great
health outcomes, they studied their
diet, and they found out they're eating a lot more
fruits and vegetables.

They were eating less meat. They were eating more beans. They were eating lots. They had their own gardens. They were eating lots
more whole grains. And they ate a little more fish. They didn't eat so much meat. And they used olive
oil instead of butter, and they drank red wine. But what was the takeaway
that Americans got about the Mediterranean diet? AUDIENCE: Olive oil. AUDIENCE: Red wine. JOHN MACKEY: Exactly. Olive oil and red wine. And arguably, the
people were healthy, not because of those two foods,
but in spite of them, meaning it was the fresh fruits and
vegetables and whole grains and beans and
fewer animal foods. Not to mention, people
in Crete were walking like nine miles every day. And so we drew the wrong
conclusions from it. So oil was a huge cause
of the weight gain. Also refined flours, the
number of donuts and bagels and croissants and just
kind of white bread that has been consumed has gone
way up in the last 40 years.

And the final thing is dairy
fats, particularly cheese. In 1915, the per capita
consumption of cheese was three pounds a
person a year in the US. Today, 100 years later, it's
34 and 1/2 pounds of cheese. Well, that's 1,000%– more
than 1,000% increase– 10x. And I don't eat
any cheese at all. So somebody is probably eating
about 69 pounds of cheese to make up the difference. And you probably
know who you are. So here's the thing. Let's put this in a
big great context. Let's put it in
evolutionary context. Being fat was not a
problem that human beings have had for most of our
evolutionary history. Quite the opposite. We were just trying to get
enough calories to stay alive. It was about survival. When we were
gatherers and hunters, there wasn't very much
calorie-dense food available.

People were foraging for
fruits and vegetables, and maybe they can get
some starchy tubers. This was before
we had agriculture that through hybridization
and selective breeding we could increase the
sweetness of food, increase the
carbohydrates that might be in a root vegetable
like a sweet potato or a squash or a potato. And so we just were
putting massive quantities of food, very high
fiber content, just to get enough calories. And when they could pull down
a wild animal, wild game– then they'd get a rich source
of concentrated protein and calories, although
nothing like the kind of meat that people eat today,
where you have corn-fed beef and we've basically fattened
up our livestock animals. So what this translates into
is our evolutionary program, our evolutionary predisposition
to crave calorie-dense foods. We like things that have
a lot of calories in them. We like sugar. We like fat. We like white rice. We like ice cream,
particularly like things that combine sugar and fat,
like a nice dark chocolate candy bar. Yum. We like oil.

Oil is the most calorie-dense
food you can eat. One tablespoon of
oil has 120 calories. So now that we've
become more affluent, we can get calorie-dense
foods, not on a feast day, not on a rare event. We can have it three
times a day or more. And so we do. And as the rest of the
world becomes more affluent, that same craving for calorie
density stays in play.

And so that's why the
whole world is getting fat, because we can eat
more animal foods. We can eat more ice cream. We can eat more oil. We can eat more
sugar, and we are. And we're basically
killing ourselves with our craving for
calorie-dense foods. And so that translates
into the thing most people aren't
really conscious of is food addictions. Food addictions are a
really serious problem. And most people are addicts,
but they don't know it until they try to quit. And then when you try
to change your diet, you find that it's
quite difficult. You can change it for
a while, but then you tend to drift back
to the old pattern because it's deeply set. Type 2 diabetes is
almost towards pandemic, because we're now
about 12% of people are identified as diabetic, but
we have 35% of the population, an estimated 86
million people are already pre-diabetic and on
their way to being diabetic.

So we're talking about– gosh, I mean, almost half
of the adult population is either diabetic
or pre-diabetic. And the complications of
diabetes down the road are absolutely horrible. Look at what happens to people. They can go blind. They have to
amputate their feet. They get hearing loss. They can get osteoporosis. They get Alzheimer's. It's a horrible disease. Type 2 diabetes is totally
a lifestyle disease. I'm going to talk about how you
can reverse that disease fairly quickly by dietary changes. Heart disease. A million and a
half people a year die from a heart
attack or stroke. And more than 2,200
will die each day, which is about how many
people we lost on 9/11. And that is also
a dietary disease. Heart disease is a
disease no one ever should get unless you have
some kind of genetic defect. It's completely something
we do to ourselves through what we eat. Cancer scares the
shit out of everybody. And there's nobody in this room
that hasn't either had cancer or had somebody that they
know and love get cancer. And more people are going to
die from cancer in the next 27 months than everybody
that we've ever had lost in a war since the
founding of the republic.

And yeah, I'm going to argue
that cancer is primarily also a dietary and
lifestyle disease. Here you can see, if you
look at the major risk factors for cancer, there's
two overwhelming risk factors– what you eat and whether
you smoke or not. The other ones– pollution,
alcohol, radiation, and medications. They are risk factors. They are contributors, but
they're relatively small, somewhere between 65%
and 90% of all cancers go back to these
two primary causes– tobacco use and diet. So this pie chart represents
what Americans currently eat. And the processed
foods on this pie chart is equal to 54% of all
the calories we consume. 54% of what Americans
eat is junk food, highly processed foods,
sugar, oil, refined grains.

We eat 32% of our calories
from animal foods. So that's now 86%. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans,
and whole grains, only 14% of our diets are
from those foods. And I would argue, and
we do argue in our book, that at least 90%
of your calories should come from
whole plant foods. And the solution is
the Whole Foods Diet. There, you're going to
have your animal foods. We're not arguing
for 100% vegan diet, but we're arguing for at
least 90% plant-based. And 90+%. But we're arguing for
100% real foods diet. If you really want to
transform your health, you have to stop
eating all the crap. And I'm sorry, but
that's the facts. And if you do these
two things together, because we say there's only
two rules in the diet– eat only whole foods,
eat 90+% plant foods. Those are the two
rules in the diet. It's simple to understand
but hard to do. So what aren't whole foods? All refined grains and flours,
all concentrated sugars of all types, all artificial
flavors, sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives. All food oils and concentrated
fats like butter and lard.

And almost all the
processed foods that you find in the
center of a supermarket. Here are some of our
recognizable foods– cokes and cakes and donuts
and chocolate chip cookies and oil and white flour and
white bread and white pasta. We are sugar junkies. We absolutely are. The typical American
consumes 23 teaspoons of added sugar every single day. That's a three-pound bag
of sugar every 12 days. One 12-ounce soft drink is
equal to 10 teaspoons of sugar.

Here you can see the annual
soft drink consumption. The good news is, is
it peaked around– this didn't work out good
either on the slide– but it peaked around about
2005 or something like that, we had a peak of our
soft drink consumption. It's slowly gone down a little
bit, but not because people like drinking more water. It's been substituted
with things like Red Bull and
Monster and energy drinks and sort of new-age
beverages that also have a lot of sugar in them. Also here's a good boomer
joke for the millennials. When I was a kid,
they'd only had Cokes, and they were in these
little 6-ounce bottles, which you might see
in a museum someplace. And my parents knew
what they were.

They were just bottles of sugar. And so they wouldn't let
us have those things. For a kid, it was
like, oh, my god. It's so good. Please, mama, can I have a Coke? So there would be these
little 6-ounce bottles, and my parents
would dole them out if I was a good boy, which meant
I didn't get that many Cokes. But today, people
they walk around– I see them– they walk around
with these 2-liter bottles of either Diet Coke
or regular Coke. And I've met people that
say I just drink Coke. You don't drink any water? No, I just drink Coke. It tastes a lot better. I already talked to
you about oil, but– yeah, pass on this one. I already made my case. Let's talk about the low-carb,
high-animal-food diets, and I'm going to make
a case against it.

So what most people
don't realize is that the starch foods
have been the major calorie source for humanity
since we went out of the paleolithic age. We're starch eaters. We've evolved to
digest starches. We have enzymes
in our mouth that are different than all the
other primates, because we can break down starches
more effectively than any other species. And you can see that
rice and rye and barley and oats and wheat
and millet and sorghum and sweet potatoes, legumes,
regular potatoes, and corn, there's been no– I challenge you to name
any major civilization in the history of
this planet that didn't base the predominant
amount of its calories on starches. There are none. You might find some weird tribe
like the Massai or the Inuits up in Greenland, but
that's not a civilization.

Those are people faced in
a marginal life extreme position that are making do with
what they find themselves at. But they don't have long life. And so it's kind of
a bogus argument, but I hear it all the time. Starches have been the
major calorie source. We're evolved to eat
them, digest them, and they're a major fuel source. Meat consumption
has increased 70% since 1940 but what's
interesting, of course, it was kind of flat. And then we had the
Depression, and it went down, and then it started to rocket
up around the beginning of World War II.

And it just kept rocketing up
until we got to about the year 2000. And now you can see it's
actually declined almost 15% to 20% from its peak. And that's despite the
paleo and low-carb movement. But still, by any
measurement, we're eating 32% of our calories
from animal foods. And the per capita consumption
of it, the increase is pretty phenomenal. Here's worldwide,
and it's exploding. What's very interesting, this
is based on tonnage, so actually pork– anybody have an idea why
pork is the number one animal food consumed in the world? AUDIENCE: China. SPEAKER 1: Bingo. China. Bacon. I can see that people
are thinking bacon. I like bacon. No. China. China, they eat so
much pork there. But poultry, of course,
is rapidly gaining. Poultry is the orange line,
and it's just shooting up. And it's no doubt going
to pass up pork sometime in the next 10 or 15 years. Wild fish is there
now as number three. And it's leveled off, but if
you add farmed fish in, so the wild fish, you get it
right up there at the very top. If you add all fish together,
farmed fish and wild fish, but farmed fish you
can see has come from nowhere to rapidly growing.

And wild fish, because seafood
is not sustainable any longer in the oceans. We're fishing out the oceans. And it's one of
the great tragedies that people are not
very conscious about is how we're emptying
the oceans out, because we're so
good at fishing now. We have such amazing
technology that the fish, they've got no chance. We hunt them down,
and we load them up. Oh, here's that chart. It came out. You can see, here it is.

You can see the per capita
increase over the last 100 years. So if we look at
the studies, I'm going to make a bold claim here. I'm going to say all major
studies show an increase in all cause disease and death
from low-carbohydrate diets. No studies, none, of
high-carbohydrate diet shows the similar facts. So here's a study that– 17 studies. This is sort of a meta analysis
of several different studies– observational studies. Over 700,000 people, and
low-carbohydrate diets are associated with a
31% increase in deaths from all causes.

Here's a famous one,
the Harvard School of Public Health
published in 2012. They followed 120,000 people
between 22 and 28 years. And there was a 13%
increase of dying for each 2 to 3-ounce serving per day
of unprocessed red meat. So 2 to 3 ounces
is not very much. So if you're eating like
a big steak every day, your 13% increase is going to
get magnified to well over 50% increase of risk for dying. And the processed red meats,
the World Health Organization has classified processed red
meats as a class I carcinogen, along with asbestos and tobacco. And, of course, this has
been heavily attacked by the meat industry,
but they don't have any power over the
World Health Organization. So it's pretty interesting. So particularly, if you're
consuming animal foods, I recommend staying away
from the processed ones. By the way, bacon is one
of those processed ones. Here's one, colon cancer. Now, over 1,000 studies confirm
that red meat and processed red meat increases the
risk of colon cancer. And plant-based diets consisting
of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans decreases
the risk of colon cancer.

As a result, the
World Cancer Research and the American Institute
for Cancer Research recommend eating primarily
a plant-based diet. This study shows
that when people are eating high amounts
of animal protein, you can see their risk for
cancer mortality goes up proportionately to how much
animal foods they're eating. So a little bit,
not too much risk. But as you eat more, the
risk begins to escalate. Here's one about breast cancer. So women as they get
older begin to worry more about breast cancer and men
worry about prostate cancer. This is pretty
interesting, because this was 87 countries
participated in this research by the International Agency
for Research on Cancer. And they tracked animal
product consumption, and it correlated very closely
with 12 types of cancer but with a lag of
15 to 25 years. So cancer is not something
that shows up immediately. It takes a while for it
to grow in our bodies. And usually, in fact, you can't
even detect cancer in the body until it's been
growing about 10 years. And when they say
somebody is cancer free, it doesn't mean
they're cancer free.

It simply means the
instruments cannot detect it, but it doesn't mean
it's not there. It just means we can't see it. And here you can see the
lag period on breast cancer. The more calories from animal
foods that were consumed, the greater the incidence
of breast cancer, with a lag period
of about 20 years. How many people here have
heard of the Blue Zones? A few of you.

It's in our book. I think it's chapter
4 in the book. And the Blue Zones is
the work of a guy named Dan Buettner, who got very
interested about where are the longest-lived
peoples on the planet? And particularly ones
we have to document with birth certificates that
we could actually measure. So he did the research,
and he found five places on the planet that have
extraordinarily long lives.

And those five places
are Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria,
Greece; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and of, all places,
Loma Linda, California. Seventh Day Adventists
are concentrated in Loma Linda, California,
which I'll get to in a minute. So what's very interesting
is that if you look at what these people eat, they
all without exception eat a variation of
the Whole Foods Diet, except for a small subset of the
Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, none of them are vegans. But they all eat real
foods, real whole foods, about 90% plant
based, no exceptions.

Here's the Okinawans are
particularly interesting. The Okinawa elder diet,
so 70% of their calories came from sweet potatoes,
12% from rice, and 7% from grains they were
eating, and then 6% from soy. So they were eating
approximately 85% of their calories were coming
from complex carbohydrates or starches. Astounding. Almost 85%. And you can see
they weren't vegan. They got some pork,
about 1% from pork. 1% from eggs, 1% from
dairy, and 1% for fish. So they were a 96%
vegan diet and almost no processed foods whatsoever. And very little oil, only
2% of the calories from oil. The Seventh Day Adventists,
again, the Seventh Day Adventists are a religious group
that is very focused on health. Their interpretation
of the Bible is that God wants us
to eat extremely mostly plant-based diets and wants
us to be very healthy. So what's so interesting about
that, these people don't smoke, they don't drink. Their parts, they have people
of faith, they have religion, they have community. And so they're perfect
to do a study on diet, because that's where they vary. So they had the– you can see from
body mass index, the vegans had the
lowest body mass index, followed by the vegetarians,
and the omnivores were much higher– the
omnivores at 28.8%.

30.0 gets you to obesity levels. Anything above 24 is overweight. So only the vegans were actually
kind of at an ideal weight. But the vegan Adventist who
ate nuts and seeds, exercised and not smoked, they are the
longest-lived cohort we've ever discovered in modern times. And the men, on average,
lived 14 years longer than the average
Caucasian American, and the females lived
10 years longer. And look at those risk rates– 60% lower risk of
cancer, 76% lower risk of heart disease,
and even women 98% lower rates of heart disease
in the Adventist communities that were the vegans. Some phenomenal statistics. And I think one of my friends,
the Dr.

Garth Davis said, if everyone ate like an
Adventist, everyone would have the same health outcomes. So Dean Ornish. Dean Ornish proved the
cure for heart disease, because he did a
study, and it was eating a vegetarian diet,
very low in fat, very high in starches– 70% to 75% from starches. And the outcomes
were extraordinary. He was able to
reverse heart disease. So here's a guy who
reversed heart disease, who cured heart disease
and nobody cares. The whole heart industry
is all about cracking people's chest open and going in
and doing angioplasty or doing stents, doing some kind
of heroic technological intervention, when
they never needed to have that kind of surgery,
that through diet, they completely reversed
their heart disease. And yet nobody cares. Nobody seems to know about it. That's been followed up by the
incredible work of Caldwell Esselstyn, who did his own
work where he had people– it was a much smaller cohort
than Ornish worked with, but here's a diet,
a very pure diet– 100% plant-based. No oils, no sugars, no
refined carbohydrates, and it was a starch-based
diet, very low in fat.

And the statistics
are phenomenal. These are people that
already had advanced cardiovascular disease. So 89% of his patients actually
adhered to the diet and 11% who didn't. Those who adhered to it,
only 0.6%, one person, experienced a coronary
event in the three years that followed this. These were people that mostly
had already had heart attacks. And 11% of the patients
were non-adherent. 62% of them have some type of
coronary event in those three years. Phenomenal success. Nutrient density. Nutrient density. Our society is obsessed
with the macronutrients. How much protein
should people eat? How many carbohydrates
should people eat? And how much fat
should they eat? Which is good? Carbs are bad, proteins good. Fat we used to think was bad,
and now people think it's good. And that's what most of these
dietary debates are around. And they're kind
of stupid debates, because if you're eating
whole foods, mostly plants, you're going to get the
right mix of macronutrients. What's usually left
out of the discussion are the micronutrients,
and these are obviously the most important nutrients
from the longevity and health standpoint.

And so that's the
vitamins and minerals and the phytochemicals,
the phytonutrients. There's estimated that there's
over 10,000 phytonutrients that we've now discovered
that have healthful effects on our bodies. And the foods that are the
most nutrient-dense foods– I hope this one came out. Based on a nutrient
density per calorie– I don't know, can you read that? Probably can't, but
at the very bottom, the least nutrient-dense
foods you can eat are oil and refined
sugars, followed by refined grains
and then cheese and then full-fat dairy,
then red meat, then eggs. We'll move up to all
the different meat products, with fish having
the most micronutrient density per calorie. And then the most nutrient-dense
foods you can eat, not surprisingly, are
vegetables, particularly– particularly– leafy greens. Those are the superfoods,
things like kale and watercress and collards, mustard
greens, these type of foods, and spinach.

These are like super
nutritionally dense foods on a per-calorie basis. And all the vegetables
and the fruits, the beans, the whole
grains, nuts and seeds. So what Dr. Joel Fuhrman
argues is that in his system, the key to health is to maximize
your micronutrient density per calorie consumed. Health is equal
to macronutrients divided by calories. So he's arguing
that we should be eating an intensely
micronutrient-dense diet, which means lots of fruits
and vegetables. Let's talk a bit
about low-carb diets. I call the low-carb diets
the zombies of the food, because they never die. You kill them, and
then another generation comes along and embraces it.

So these have all
been best sellers. The Atkins program,
the South Beach diet, which is the best-selling diet
book of all time, The Zone. Mark Hyman now is
popularizing the stuff. The paleo and the Primal diets. You can lose weight
on these diets if you are also being conscious
of your portion control. And there's one great saving
grace of the low-carb diets. You stop eating the
highly processed grains. You stop eating the sugar. And by the way, if
you just cut out sugar and highly
processed grains, I guarantee you you're
going to feel better. The problem is that we
haven't evolved that way. We've evolved as plant eaters. If you look at our nearest– not only did we evolve that
was in our paleolithic times, but if we go back even
evolutionary further back to our closest primate
cousins, the gorillas, who are 100% plant-based, we
share about 98% of the DNA. And the chimps and the
bonobos, we're closer to 99%.

The gorilla is a
100% plant based, and the bonobos and the chimps
are about 95% plant based. And they're eating
high quantities of nutrient-dense
foliage, lots of greens. That's what they eat. They eat tons of greens, tons
of fruits and tons of veggies. So plant eaters, if
you're going to be a plant eater, necessarily going
to be a high-carb eater, because carbohydrates,
that's where they are. Carbs are in the plants. They're not in the animal foods. So when we talk about a low-carb
diet, let's translate that. Low-carb diet means a low-plant
diet and a high-animal foods diet. And eating high
quantities of animal foods correlates very closely– it's been shown in study after
study after study after study– that it correlates very closely
with heart disease, stroke, and cancer. And all the low-carb
diets could inherently be very high in calories and
very low in nutrient density. So it's good to minimize
all the simple sugars, but then they throw
out the healthy carbs, the healthy starches.

And starch foods such as yams,
whole grains, winter squashes, they are super-healthy
foods for us. All historical civilizations,
as I've already argued, base their diet primarily
on eating starch foods. Paleo. Paleo is the hottest trend
at Whole Foods Market. I will tell you this right now. You put paleo on something,
you can triple its sales. Everybody's out there. Avoid carbs, eat protein. At the paleo diet. And there are some
good things about it. It's similar to what we talked
about with the low-carb diets, which paleo is a type
of low-carb diet. No processed carbs,
sugar, and white flour. Also, if you're truly a
paleo adherent, you're not going to eat dairy products,
because the ideology believes that, well, when we were
in the paleolithic times, nobody was drinking the
milk from another mammal. That came later
with agriculture. And eating lots of fresh
fruits and vegetables.

Typical good paleo
diet is going to have a plate full of
veggies, and it's going to have some
lean grass-fed beef or some pasture-raised lamb or
chicken or something like that. However, the bad
part is, they've cut out all the healthy carbs. They've cut out the beans. They've cut out
the whole grains. A lot of times they cut out
the healthy starch foods, starchy vegetables
like sweet potatoes.

And that results in too much
animal foods and protein and the ugly part of that
is, as I've already stated, and I showed you some
studies, the long-term risk for heart disease and
cancer are very high, with a lag period of 20 to
30 years before the symptoms really manifest. We'll talk a little bit about
what Whole Foods is doing. So our company
doesn't really believe the government, the
medical establishment, our universities,
or the food industry are going to work toward
solving this problem.

The vested interest
of the food– the consumer-packaged companies
that are selling all the junk packaged foods,
they're very high. They make massive
quantities of money. The dairy industry, the meat
industry, the egg industry, these guys fund their
own kind of junk studies that confuse everybody
by putting out data so people think– they read
about the contradictory information, and
it's like, gosh. You know, it's all so confusing. I don't understand it. In fact, a survey
I read recently showed that for the
average American, they'd rather do their
own taxes than figure out how to try to eat
healthier, because taxes are simpler to figure out. So what we decided
at Whole Foods is that part of our mission
has got to be to help people, to make people more conscious
about healthy eating.

That's the real reason
I wrote the book. And I'll talk more about
that in just a second. So we're very
focused as a company in raising the consciousness of
our team members at Whole Foods to eat healthier. We've got about 90,000
people working for us, and this is a big part
of what Whole Foods is about at this point. So one thing we do, if
you work for our company, automatically get a 20%
discount for everything we sell. However, we have
four different levels that you can get to based
on how healthy you are. So you get a 22%, 25%,
27%, up to platinum at 30%. And to make it simple
and not too expensive, we just have four
criteria that we measure. If you smoke, you can't
get an extra discount. And then you blood pressure,
your total cholesterol or your LDL, whichever
is the better of the two, and then your body mass index
or, if you're a bodybuilder, you can also use the
waist-to-height ratio.

And then you see
how people score, and then that determines
what your discount is. So we had 11,000 team members,
almost 12,000 participate in '16, about 8,000 qualify
for higher-level discount card. And that saves our company.
it's a win-win-win strategy, because not only
are team members healthier as a result
of this incentive, but they save us a lot. We're self-insured. And probably Google is
self-insured as well. The company doesn't pay
anything for my health care. I never get sick. So if all of our team members
ate as healthy as I did, our health care– we
spend over $200 million a year in health care for
our team members– arguably, if everybody are
really healthily, well, it would plunge like 90%. So it's very much in the
company's best interest to have our team members
be healthy as possible.

Now, obviously, it's
in their best interest to be as healthy as possible. So what we do is– I've heard criticism of
our discount program, because it says like you're
favoring the healthy people and you're punishing the
people who need it the most, kind of that Marxist argument
of need should triumph. So we have an another program we
call the Total Health Immersion Program. This one is the one that
inspired me to write the book, because we have now sent over
4,000 of our team members– this says 3,400, but
it's not updated.

We've now sent over 4,000 team
members through this program since we launched it in 2009. It's a one-week program. Costs about $4,000 a team
member to send somebody through the program,
medically supervised. For one week, we completely
control their food. We do intensive education
about healthy eating and healthy lifestyle. We put them on an
exercise program. We take all their biometrics
when they walk in, get their blood. We meet with a medical doctor,
and a week later, we do it all over on their way out.

And even in one week, people
can make astounding progress. It's amazing. These are the average
results where cholesterol drops 24 points, triglycerides
24, BMI drops, blood pressure drops, and people lose
weight in just a week. Through this
program, our company has reversed type 2 diabetes
for hundreds of people. We have reversed heart
disease for many, many people. And I've seen hundreds of people
lose over 100 pounds of weight in less than a year or
a little over a year. Here's a typical guy. This is a store team leader
in the Sacramento area. He was type 2 diabetic. He reversed it very quickly. He lost over 90 pounds.

His blood pressure dropped from
156 over 96 to 115 over 75. And he was diabetic,
and his blood sugar is between 70 and 80, which
is an excellent score, better than mine. Here's another guy. This guy lives in the Bay Area– no, he lives in Colorado. And this guy, he's now lost
over 100 pounds in the last 12 months. He's now dropped
all his medications. He actually wrote a book called
"The Change," because he was so pumped up about this. And I think he's
left the company. I think he's now like a
permanent kind of a "Biggest Loser" promoter. So let me conclude, and
then I'll take questions. So our country is
overweight and unhealthy. And here's the thing–
it's completely reversible. We can reverse it through
diet and lifestyle. We should– each of
has the potential to probably live to be 100. Now, I know Google is
going to figure out some technological
innovations that will help us to live past 100. The joke I say is that by
the time I get to be 100, they're going to figure out
how to keep me alive forever at the age of 100.

But truthfully, the degenerative
diseases that are killing everybody– heart disease,
cancer, and diabetes– are primarily dietary
and lifestyle diseases. 80% of what we
spend on health care goes to treat these diseases
that we shouldn't even get. So my final message
is that each of us is being called to embark on a
hero's journey here in health. First, you have to wake up,
you have to become conscious, you have to change
the way you eat, and you have to
change your lifestyle. And then you're in a position
to go help other people. I actually wrote this
book because I've seen my own health transformed. I've seen hundreds and
perhaps to this point thousands of people in my own
company transform their health. And I felt an
ethical compunction to try to share what I've
learned, hence why I'm with you today. And thank you very much. I'll take a few questions. [APPLAUSE] AUDIENCE: Here at
Google, we're actually very fortunate to
be able to take advantage of pretty much any
dietary choice that we want to. We're very fortunate to be given
great food and nutritious food every day.

But for the average American,
the diet that you've described would actually be
very cost prohibitive. And so how can we address that? JOHN MACKEY: Because
it's not true. That is a myth that's put
out there consistently. But if you're eating the kind
of diet we describe in The Whole Foods Diet, which is primarily
a starch-based diet– so you're going to be
eating a lot of brown rice. You're going to be eating beans. You're going to
be eating quinoa. You're going to be eating
potatoes and sweet potatoes and starchy vegetables. Those are very
inexpensive foods. But you have to
know how to cook. But if you know how to cook– and it's not that hard to cook
brown rice, I will tell you– then you've gotten your major
calories from that source.

If you're just buying
vegetables that are in season and a little bit of fruit that's
in season, I'm telling you, you can live on
that type of diet for just– one person can
live on that type of diet for about $2 or $3 a day. The ironic thing is, I'm
a really wealthy guy. But I spend almost
nothing on food. I cook. I eat a really healthy diet. And I don't spend
very much money, even though I do get a high
discount from Whole Foods.

So that's the
unspoken truth here is that it looks like all
that crappy junk food is inexpensive, you know, the
burgers and French fries and stuff like that. But [INAUDIBLE] would argue
that the diet I just described is less expensive, but
I'll make two other points. The first one is, it may be
less expensive on a per-calorie basis, but on a
per-nutrient basis, that's an incredibly expensive diet
that the average American eats, because they're not
getting any nutrients.

They're not getting any
micronutrient density. They're just getting calories. They're getting fat. You're staying alive for a
while before these lifestyle diseases take their
toll, and you get older. But that diet that
seems inexpensive is really very expensive. And then when you
add the health costs into it, what you're going
to be spending on health care as you try to deal with the
diseases you get from it, it's prohibitively expensive.

The diet everybody thinks
is expensive is far more expensive than our
society can afford to pay for, because health
care is well on the way to bankrupting us. Next question. AUDIENCE: It seems like there's
two sort of actionable items or like action steps
that you're discussing. One is just plain awareness. Most Americans don't
know that the sort of default food that you're
eating is just not good. And in this room, as
you mentioned earlier, we're not very
representative of that group. And then there's
the secondary action of sort of once you're aware
that you should be eating healthy or the default
food is not healthy, you want to optimize for that.

So for people in
this room, we're probably looking at number two. But what are some
actionable items that we can take to get most
people like to step number one? JOHN MACKEY: The most
important thing we can do, obviously, is we
lead by example. That's the most important
thing we can do. And secondly, we influence
our friends and families. And even today, I had some
meetings earlier on at Google, and I had some lunch. And one of your
executives at Google is on our Board of
Directors at Whole Foods. And it's like, they
went to great trouble to just try to feed me,
because they were very awkward. What's this guy going to eat? He doesn't eat oil. He doesn't want any– he's vegan. And so it was very
difficult. But you know what? The food was fantastic. Whole Foods is doing some stuff. But we've got a
program we call– we have three foundations,
and one foundation is aimed towards [INAUDIBLE]. What is about ending poverty. So we have a
microcredit loan program in some like 70 countries now.

But that's not relevant to here. But we also have a foundation
called The Whole Kids Foundation, where we give free
salad bars and free gardens, school gardens, to any schools
in America that ask for one. So we've given out
over 5,000 salad bars and almost 4,000 gardens
in the school districts. And so we're getting fresh
fruits and vegetables to kids. And when kids grow vegetables,
kids that grow vegetables, eat vegetables. So we're doing that. And then we also
have a foundation called Whole Cities
Foundation, where we're doing intensive
education in the inner cities. We've opened four stores in
the inner cities that don't meet our normal prototype. One in Detroit, one in Chicago,
one in Newark, New Jersey, and one in New Orleans. And three of those four
stores are actually successful stores for us. So there are many
things that we can do. But it's partly raising
people's consciousness. But the problem is,
is there are very powerful economic interests
who don't want people to stop eating the
food that they– we have this predisposition
to be addicted to calorie-dense foods.

And that's the biggest problem. We're a bunch of addicts. And until we have
consciousness about– you know, they say an
alcoholic or a drug addict can't really begin to reform
until they hit bottom. Well, many people, it's
unfortunately true, it's the same way with food. And hitting bottom oftentimes
means getting a disease. When I was on the
tour a week or so ago, and I spoke at Goldman Sachs, I
had a 23-year-old woman come up and told me that Whole
Foods Market saved her life. And I said, well, how's that? She says, I got this
really weird disease, and I just started eating
nothing but vegan, plant-based, organic, lots of
fruits and vegetables, and I reversed the disease,
and I'm so grateful. And I hear that when I
travel around to our stores, because I have so many
team members come up that went through the Total
Health Immersion and say you saved my life. Look at me. They show me their
before pictures. They show me the after pictures. And it's astounding. So there's a lot of
things we can do. But I can't figure it all out.

Here's the good news. How old are you? AUDIENCE: 28. JOHN MACKEY: 28. I'm 63. OK? I've done a lot of stuff. You're 28. You figure it out. I'll put the
challenge back to you. You guys are a highly
creative organization. So get to work. Next question. AUDIENCE: First
of all, thank you for the large quantity
of plant-based foods at Whole Foods. That definitely made it very
easy for me to become vegan. And it's definitely cheaper
than what I was eating before.

And I feel a lot healthier. JOHN MACKEY: Good. So you're buying it doesn't
have to be expensive argument. AUDIENCE: Yes. It's definitely much,
much cheaper also. Yeah. If you think about like 1
pound of sweet potatoes, it's like $1– JOHN MACKEY: Yeah, exactly. AUDIENCE: Yeah. So when you talk about the
90%-plus calories coming from plant-based foods, I guess
my question is I see that in the book, but I don't really
see that in Whole Foods stores. And I understand that if you're
having third-party suppliers, for example, processed
foods and all of that might be really
hard to actually get 90% of your food in the
store should be plant based.

But then when you
have foods that are, for example, the
pastries at Whole Foods, the different foods
that are catered there, do you have a plan to move to
90% of it being plant based, not only for the health– JOHN MACKEY: Yeah, I
wrote a book about it. Let me ask you a question. I know your question. So the very first store I
opened before Whole Foods Market was called Safer Way. I opened that– I opened that in 1978. And it was a vegetarian store. It sold no meat. It sold no sugar. It sold no white flour. It sold no at alcohol. It sold no coffee. It was an incredibly
healthy store. And it did almost no business. It wasn't until we
relocated that store and began to sell the
foods that people wanted to buy that we had a business. And it was still a
natural food, primarily organic-oriented store. But we did sell meat,
natural meat, organic meat. We did begin to sell
beer and wine and coffee. And we sold some things
with sugar in them. We sold some white flour. And the store was
a huge success.

So the ultimate answer
is, Whole Foods, like every other
business person, has to meet the market
where it finds it. And we have the
highest standards. I challenge you to
find any other chain of stores that has higher
nutritional standards as Whole Foods has. Nobody does. Yet it's not the ideal scenario
in terms of people's health, because people keep
making bad choices. And we have to serve
the customers that are going to go down the street
to get what they want to get.

So I hear what you're
saying, but I'm not sure what to do about it,
except try to convince people to vote those products
out of existence. I spoke last night in Palo
Alto at the Commonwealth Club, and I had animal
rights activists that were disrupting the event. You know, accusing me of
killing all these animals, and it's like guys, I don't
want to kill any animals. I don't eat them. I encourage you not to eat them.

But we're in business. We have to serve the
market as we find it. And that's true for all
the foods that we sell. All I can try to do is
educate and persuade. Ultimately, you
make the choices. And if you don't
choose the meat, and you don't choose the
sugar and refined products, then we'll stop selling them. AUDIENCE: So can I ask
a follow-up question? JOHN MACKEY: Yeah, sure. AUDIENCE: Yeah, so when are
you talking about standards, I guess like I'm actually
familiar with the disruption that happened yesterday
because I have four of my– JOHN MACKEY: You look familiar.

You know that guy that we
dragged out at about 7:30 too? AUDIENCE: No, I was
not there yesterday. JOHN MACKEY: OK. AUDIENCE: I also like
don't directly support that disruption whatsoever. You know I just
understand what– JOHN MACKEY: OK, go ahead. AUDIENCE: Yeah. I have four housemates and
including my boyfriend, I have done investigations
into Whole Foods farms that claim should
be humane and– JOHN MACKEY: We
never claimed that. AUDIENCE: –cage free. JOHN MACKEY: Never claim any
of our things to be humane. AUDIENCE: Yeah. JOHN MACKEY: We just rate them
based on the animal welfare. It's a five-step program. We're not making a
claim that it's humane. We're just saying there are
different gradations of the way the animals are treated.

Here's the thing. Is Whole Foods system perfect? No, of course not. We can't monitor
these farms 24/7. They have to pass certain
inspections and tests. And we do flunk them out. Really bad actors do get
investigated and tossed out. So all I can say is we're
the ones being attacked, and yet we're the
ones– the only ones– that are trying to
do anything about it. Who else? You think Safeway is
doing anything about it? Do you think Trader
Joe's is doing– Trader Joe's still has
caged eggs for God's sake. We don't have any. We haven't had any caged
eggs for almost 20 years. We're the only ones that are
trying to make a difference. They're trying to get a higher
more ethical source of animal foods. And we're the only
ones being attacked. And we're being attacked
by the people that should be making common cause with us.

They're not out there
picketing Safeway, and they're not out there
picketing Trader Joe's, they're picketing the only
company that's trying to make it better. I just think that's
incredibly weird. AUDIENCE: So they actually have
just done protests for Sprouts, Safeway, and Trader Joe's. [INAUDIBLE] JOHN MACKEY: Oh! Go get them! AUDIENCE: Yeah. So do you believe that
there is an ethical way of killing animals or
like harvesting milk? JOHN MACKEY: No, you need to
read chapter 13 of the book.

You should read
that chapter first. I make the ethical argument. The book argues for
10% animal foods from a– based on
the science, we don't see that eating
up to 10% you're going to get any
worse health outcomes. In chapter 13, I make the
very impassioned ethical case for not eating any animal foods. Read that chapter and
tell me if you don't see that I'm actually on your side. I'm not the enemy. I'm a pragmatist– AUDIENCE: No, I agree. JOHN MACKEY: I'm a
pragmatist trying to make the world
a better place. But you have to meet the
world where you find it. It's easy to be holy
and pure and not make a difference in the world. AUDIENCE: Sounds great. Cool. Thank you. JOHN MACKEY: Chapter 13. Check it out. Let me know what you think. AUDIENCE: Yes. Cool. Thank you. AUDIENCE: My wife and I
recently have transferred over to being fully
vegan, plant based, and it's been somewhat of a
process kind of cutting out red meat, becoming vegetarian.

JOHN MACKEY: A journey. I get it. AUDIENCE: Yeah, and as
the education builds, you start to make
better choices. So I'm just kind of curious
how that path for you was. Was it gradual? Was there a wow moment? JOHN MACKEY: Yeah,
several wow moments. In my case, it followed
through certain stages. The first one was when
I was 23 years old, and I moved into a vegetarian
co-op in Austin where I live. I wasn't vegetarian,
but I just thought I'd meet some really cool
people that were vegetarians. And that was a very
radical thing back in 1975 to be a vegetarian. And I went in. I became a vegetarian,
and my food consciousness was awakened. When I went there,
it changed my life. I found my higher
purpose in life, although I didn't
know it at the time.

I became a food
buyer for the co-op. I just read so many
books about it. I was totally in love
with the whole idea of natural and organic. And pretty soon after
that, I started Safer Way and with my girlfriend
that I met at that co-op. So that was the first awakening. And then the second
awakening was back in 2003 when Whole Foods was being–
we were at the annual meeting, and we were disrupted
by animal activists who were very upset about a duck
we were selling that they said was from a factory farm.

And to make a long story
short, I ended up in a dialogue with one of the activists,
and we swapped emails, and we began a dialogue. And after about
a month or so, we were both getting
frustrated with each other. And she sent me an
email and she said, you know, Mr. Mackey,
I can see that you're a very idealistic man. You really want to make
the world a better place. But when it comes to
livestock animals, you have no idea what
you're talking about. You're grossly
not well-informed. So I took that. I was taken aback, but I decided
you know, she's probably right. So then I read,
that summer of 2003, I read a dozen books on the
way we raise food in America, particularly animal foods. And I was like freaked out.

It was terrible. I had no idea. It was so horrible. It's a nightmare. And by the time that I had
read about four or five books, I decided I'm going to
have to become a vegan. I can't in good
conscience eat this stuff. And so I did. That was a huge
awakening for me, and I also vowed at
that point Whole Foods would do what it could to
improve animal welfare. And that resulted in our
five-step animal welfare process that he has friends
that are unhappy with it. And then my health got better. But then the next
big breakthrough was like in 2006 when I
read "The China Study" by Colin Campbell. And that was like such an
awakening, because I really didn't stop eating
the processed foods.

Even when I became a vegan,
I was like a junk food vegan. So when I got rid of
the processed foods, my health became unbelievable. I weigh the same
right now as I weighed when I was 18 years old. My cholesterol is like 135, 140. My blood pressure is 105
over 65, something like that. I almost never get sick. My immune system
is super strong. My telomeres are like
in the 98th percentile. Really, it's diet and lifestyle. And so those three
separate events, wish I had gotten when
I was in my early 20s. But I didn't. I only got part of
it when I was 23. I had to pick up the
rest as I got older.

So good luck to you. AUDIENCE: Yeah. I was curious what the
role of the preparation method of the food
is in the Whole Foods diet and the role of fats. When I think of even cooking
healthy vegetable things, I think of that I put
a little oil in it for salad dressing or oil
to grill it or roast it. Is cooking or not
cooking it a dimension? And what kind of fats, if
any, would be acceptable? JOHN MACKEY: Well, in
the diet, again, we don't make a big deal
out of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

We consider that to be
misleading to people. If you eat a whole foods
diet, mostly plants, you don't have to worry
about any of that stuff. You're going to
get enough protein. You're going to
get enough carbs. You're going to get enough fat. But you are using oil
to cook, and we do argue against oil in the book. You don't need any– you
never need to eat oil. You don't need to cook with it. I steam fry my veggies. And it's easy to do. You just do it with
water or vegetable broth or even a
little wine, which alcohol will evaporate off. So you don't need that to saute. And if you're talking about
fats to add some kind of sauce to say put on the
veggies and stuff, it's so easy if you get a
high-powered blender like a Vitamix or a Blendtec or
even a little NutriBullet, you can make– you just mix nuts and seeds. I mean, a simple way to do it
is some kind of nut or seed, a little bit of some kind
of vinegar or lemon juice, and fat and acid.

And then either you go savory
with like garlic and mustard or something like that or
you go sweet by just throwing like blueberries or blackberries
into it or cherries, and you'll get the
most delicious sauces you can possibly imagine. And so a typical dinner
for me, for example, is I cook a sweet potato, steam
up a big plate of veggies, make up some kind of
little nut dressing and put that on the
veggies and voila. Takes me 10 minutes
to cook dinner or after you get
the sweet potato, you've got to bake
that or steam it. But that takes very little time. It's not expensive at all. It's delicious, and it's
incredibly nutritious, and couldn't be easier. So I get my fats from the Whole
Foods avocados, nuts and seeds, primarily the
concentrated sources. But what people don't
realize, fats are– they're in everything. You can't possibly
not get enough fat. If I had steel cut
oats for breakfast, and oats are 13% fat,
just regular oats, fats, they're just there.

It's like not something
to worry about. AUDIENCE: Thank you. JOHN MACKEY: Guys,
thanks very much. Good luck at Google. Keep changing the world. [APPLAUSE] .



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