Silicon Valley entrepreneur on eating for the planet | Earth scientist Chris MacAskill

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How does an earth scientist embark on a career journey that traverses the fossil fuel industry, Silicon Valley alongside Steve Jobs, and a mission to revolutionise our approach to food?

“The beef industry are some of the best marketers in the world, and so is the dairy industry. They know what makes people tick, and with men it’s masculinity and with women it’s beauty.”

Chris MacAskill has worn many hats throughout his career, overcoming extreme hardship to get to where he is today. In Episode #276, Chris takes us on a journey through some key points in his remarkable life, drawing focus to the foundations of science and nutrition that underpin his worldview. This episode challenges conventional thinking and is an inspiration to more carefully consider the choices we make every day, both for our health and the planet.

“I don’t think people understand – not even nutritionists understand – how damaging beef is to your health.”

Chris is a Stanford-educated geophysicist, former tech executive at NeXT, and cofounder of four successful companies: PSI, Fatbrain, SmugMug, and His passion for nutrition began as a teen, caddying for Jack LaLanne. This passion grew deeper during his career as an earth scientist, observing how eating patterns around the world affected both the health of human populations and the environment in which food is raised. After hosting healthy eating groups and giving talks on the topic for the last 20 years, Chris started the YouTube channel Plant Chompers.

As well as taking us on a journey through his life, Chris MacAskill brings many important topics to light in this episode. We discuss the oversimplification of nutrition science and the urgency of climate change. Chris also shares his expert insight into the way diets and health influencers have evolved over time, and touches on personal responsibility versus government intervention in the climate change conversation.

Specifically, we discuss:

  • Introduction (00:00)
  • Insights into Chris MacAskill’s Background (03:00)
  • Ancell Kees’ Studies (07:20)
  • Chris MacAskill’s Childhood (13:50)
  • Life-Altering Experiences of an Earth Scientist (32:51)
  • Climate Change in the 1980s (40:01)
  • Fuel Companies: Lobbying and Financing (43:39)
  • Obesity, Public Healthcare, and Public Interest (46:33)
  • A Deep Dive into Various Diets with Chris MacAskill (50:42)
  • Diets Preferred by Brain Scientists (1:04:53)
  • Understanding the Impact of Food on the Environment (1:08:46)
  • The Health Implications of Beef Consumption (1:15:09)
  • An Introduction to Cellular Agriculture (1:19:50)
  • National Geographic Documentary Films & General Magic (1:23:48)
  • Working Alongside Steve Jobs (1:35:41)
  • The Legacy of General Magic (1:48:02)
  • The Computer History Museum (2:01:01)
  • Missfits (2:02:06)
  • Transforming Weaknesses into Superpowers (2:07:43)
  • How to Choose the Right Nutrition Expert to Listen to? (2:13:59)
  • The Future of Plant Chompers (2:22:07)
  • Outro (2:28:30)

Chris MacAskill’s dedication to quality over quantity sets him apart in a world of rapid content consumption. He truly has had an incredible career and continues to dedicate himself to meaningful change. Chris is a huge inspiration to me personally, and I hope you find this conversation valuable.

Discover Chris MacAskill’s work on his Plant Chompers YouTube channel, where you’ll find accessible, research-backed educational content. You can also connect with him on InstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn.

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Enjoy, friends.


More about Chris MacAskill

Learn more about Chris and his story here.

Supporting studies

  • Ad libitum meal energy intake is positively influenced by energy density, eating rate and hyper-palatable food across four dietary patterns • PMID: 37117850
  • Comparative ecologic relationships of saturated fat, sucrose, food groups, and a Mediterranean food pattern score to 50-year coronary heart disease mortality rates among 16 cohorts of the Seven Countries Study • PMID: 29769748
  • Hyper-Palatable Foods: Development of a Quantitative Definition and Application to the US Food System Database • PMID: 31689013
  • Inuit metabolism revisited: what drove the selective sweep of CPT1a L479? • PMID: 32088118
  • Mortality in relation to smoking: 50 years’ observations on male British doctors • PMID: 15213107

Additional resources

  • A Civil Action Trailer • YouTube
  • General Magic Trailer: History, Technology, Business • YouTube
  • Health Effects of Trans Fatty Acids Intake: Dr. Willett’s Testimony • Harvard School of Public Health
  • One simple change to save our forests | Chris MacAskill | TEDxBoston • YouTube
  • Stanford Health Matters 2023: How 21st Century Science Is Improving How We Age by Deborah Kado • YouTube
  • Tera Fazzino, PhD presents for VCBH Lecture Series on May 18, 2022 • YouTube
  • Your difference can be Your Superpower | Chris MacAskill | TEDxBeaconStreet • YouTube


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