Yesterday hubby and I had a special date: a trip to the movie theater to see Forks Over Knives. I’d been waiting for months to see it, and hubby very nicely agreed to go with me. For those who don’t know, Forks Over Knives is a documentary that describes how several doctors and scientists are spreading the word about the health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet. The film’s tagline is: “WARNING: THIS MOVIE COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.” And it could. It really could.
The film focuses primarily on Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who conducted the groundbreaking China Study and consolidated his findings into an absolutely eye-opening book, and his good friend, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a former heart surgeon who has achieved stunning results for a group of patients by placing them on a whole foods, plant-based diet. Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn describe their backgrounds growing up on farms and their gradual awakening to an understanding of the importance of eating plants. Both visionaries explain the fundamentals and results of their groundbreaking studies in a way that makes the science easy for the audience to understand.
The sciency parts of the film were interspersed with more personal segments following the filmmaker and two “guinea pigs” who tried a plant-based diet and got some spectacular results. I loved seeing these people go from simply existing to living vibrant, healthy lives with the help of veggies. And there were quick scenes focused on a few veggie role models – a vegan martial artist who described the great effect eating a plant-based diet has had on his training (shorter recovery times, which I learned about in Thrive) and Dr. Esselstyn’s son, Rip Esselstyn – triathlete, firefighter, and author of The Engine 2 Diet, the book that proves that real men eat plants. Oh, and Rip chanted that mantra over and over while climbing up a fireman’s pole without using his legs. No big deal.
After the film ended, hubby and I couldn’t stop talking about it. A few of our major takeaways:
- One thing that has disturbed me for quite some time, and continues to disturb me, is the resistance shown to the plant-based life by the medical establishment, government, and even NGOs. One of the “guinea pigs” who tried a plant-based diet under Dr. Esselstyn’s guidance relayed a conversation with her “regular diabetes doctor,” who was horrified by the diet and literally said, “What is this guy trying to do, take you off all your meds?” Um, YES! The movie mentioned, but did not linger on, the extent to which both Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn were marginalized by the research (Campbell) and medical (Esselstyn) establishments. As the movie explained, there’s no money in healthy people, and there’s no money in dead people. The money is in the middle: in sick people. It’s in the interest of Big Pharmaceutical to keep America sick and dependent on drugs. Yeah, no thanks. I’ll take a carrot instead. (I do think there are doctors out there who are truly interested in promoting health – my doctor is extremely supportive of my vegetarian diet. But the odds are against them. We need to change the system.)
- Hubby was appalled at what he learned about dairy. After learning about the connections Dr. Campbell found between casein (the major protein in dairy) and cancer, hubby has expressed a desire to cut way back on dairy. We’ve agreed that while we will still enjoy eggs and very good cheese on a very infrequent, “special treat” basis, we’re going to see if we can do without milk, yogurt and mediocre cheese. I’m not much of a milk drinker myself, but hubby likes his cereal in the morning. So we added a variety of non-dairy milks to our grocery cart this week for hubby to sample. (I’m a soymilk person because I love the protein content, but hubby is more interested in the texture and taste with his cereal, so he picked up a few varieties of almond and oat milk to start. You should see our pantry. It looks like a hippie convention.)
- The film’s explanation of The China Study – its background, hypotheses, and findings – was particularly well done. I’ve read the book several times and never fail to learn something. But I thought the film did a wonderful job of distilling the mind-boggling amount of data into main points. The difference between traditional “Eastern” diets – of mostly rice and vegetables – and the Western or “Standard American Diet” – of meat, dairy, refined carbs and sugar – was stark. The movie illustrated the major data with graphs and diagrams and really made the study very easy to comprehend. As a result, it was impossible not to see the truth: in rural China, where little to no meat is consumed, the rates of Western diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes are virtually nonexistent. It’s clear that we can take control of our health by moving to a whole foods, plant-based diet. I was really inspired by this (information I already knew! It never hurts to see/hear it again…). Since seeing the film, I’ve had three meals. Two of them have been fabulous, filling salads packed with fiber and nutrients. I already ate fairly clean, but now I am more motivated than ever to cut things like crackers and pretzels out of my diet and substitute crunchy raw veg and sweet fruit.
Hubby and I both enjoyed Forks Over Knives. I found it incredibly motivating and validating of my lifestyle choices and left the theater with a huge smile on my face and a renewed commitment to seeking health in every aspect of my life. Hubby was motivated as well and also reported that he learned a great deal. If you haven’t seen it, go! The warning is true: Forks Over Knives really might save lives.
Did you see Forks Over Knives? What did you think?