by Bronwyn Slater
We are raising the first generation of children who will not live as long as their parents. This is just one of the many startling facts and statistics that are presented throughout this movie. In the U.S. and many other Western countries diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity are sky-rocketing. Heart disease, cancer and strokes are the leading causes of death in America, and major medical operations such as heart bypasses have become routine.
So what went wrong? And is there a solution? The central message of Forks Over Knives is that a whole foods plant-based diet doesn’t just control these diseases but can actually reverse them.
The film, released in 2011, looks at the work of two well-known American researchers: Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. These doctors recommend a diet of whole foods, vegetables, fruits, grains (such as quinoa and barley) and the elimination of meat, fish, dairy, oil and processed foods. Forks Over Knives dismantles the myth that we need animal protein for growth, muscular and general health, and that milk and dairy are crucial for bone health – all the protein we need can be obtained from plant-based sources.
Colin Campbell’s book ‘The China Study’ is well known. Over the course of 20 years Campbell observed populations in China. His results showed that incidences of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer increased in direct proportion to the adoption of a Western diet of processed and animal-based foods such as meat and dairy.
Similarly, Dr. Esselstyn conducted research on the incidences of breast cancer in Kenya where women didn’t eat meat or dairy, and found that it was 30 to 40 times less frequent there than in the U.S. He also found that breast cancer in rural Japan in the 1950s was rare, but as soon as Japanese women migrated to the United States, they had the same rate of breast cancer as their Caucasian counterparts. He also looked at a number of people in a control group over a 12 year period, most of them ill with advanced heart disease, to see how their switching to a plant-based diet would affect their health – patients who complied with the diet were seen to thrive.
Lee Fulkerson, director of Forks over Knives, ate a plant-based whole food diet for 13 weeks. He lost 20 pounds, his blood pressure (which was originally high) had normalised, and his cholesterol levels had dropped significantly. The film also features Ruth Heidrich (now 80 years old) who was diagnosed with breast cancer but now runs triathlons after curing the disease with a plant-based diet. We also see another woman with diabetes who appears to have reversed the disease following a change to a plant-based diet.
This film was seen as a valuable asset to the vegan movement in terms of its ability to convey the healthfulness and sufficiency of a plant-based diet. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and wrote: “here is a film that could save your life.” Loren King of The Boston Globe gave it 3 out of 4 stars, suggesting that what An Inconvenient Truth did for global warming, Forks Over Knives does for a vegan diet.
The film spawned a sequel entitled ‘Plant Pure Nation’ (released in 2015) and a recipe book: ‘Forks Over Knives The Cookbook’. The Forks Over Knives website has a great selection of very enticing plant-based recipes. Their Facebook page has almost three quarters of a million followers. You can also follow them on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.
This is a superb documentary and is very enjoyable to watch. It is compelling viewing and the facts presented will astound you. Highly recommended viewing for all ages and for vegans and non-vegans alike. You can access the movie here.
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