Forks Over Knives shows how more energy, weight loss, longer lifespan and lower risk factors for heart attack, stroke and cancer are the benefits of a vegetarian diet.
Lee Fulkerson writes and directs the documentary which advocates empowerment by taking a preventative dietary approach. Dietary change could be the key in reversing skyrocketing rates of obesity, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancer in the U.S.
Nutritional scientist and former dairy farmer T. Colin Campbell believes that health care costs in the United States could be cut by billions if Americans switched to a whole foods, plant-based diet.
The China Study
Campbell, professor emeritus of nutritional chemistry at Cornell University, conducted The China Study, the most comprehensive, large nutritional study ever done. Subjects in rural China were studied over 20 years.
The results were dramatic: “Degenerative diseases like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented — and in many cases reversed — by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet,” he states.
A renowned surgeon who heads the Breast Cancer Task Force at the Cleveland Clinic, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., found that “many of the diseases he routinely treated were virtually unknown in parts of the world where animal-based foods were rarely consumed.”
Filmmaker goes on diet
Fulkerson consults the team of Matthew Ledderman M.D. and Alona Pulde M.D. After just a few months on their whole foods, plant-based diet, he saw tremendous improvement in his test measures of good and bad cholesterol, blood vessel inflammation (associated with heart attack and stroke risk), and blood pressure.
Several inspiring case studies are featured. Ruth Heidrich (then in her 40’s) successfully reversed her breast cancer (which had metastasized) by joining John McDougall, M.D.’s clinical study and going on a low-fat vegan diet.
Cancer, diabetes reversed
Heidrich continues aerobic and weight-bearing exercise. Today the 70-something athlete competes, writes and teaches.
San’Dera Brantley-Nation, a mother diagnosed with diabetes, works with Esselstyn and his wife to change her diet. Keeping a journal, Brantley-Nation loses weight loss and reverses her diabetes. Ironically, she faces skepticism in the medication-centered endocrinology office where she works.
Junk food “pleasure trap”
Processed foods, touted in the U.S. since the 1950’s, act as a “pleasure trap” that only partly fills one’s stomach. Triggering the body’s sensors with natural and artificial stimulants, they induce a low-grade addiction, according to Terry Mason M.D., former Chief Medical Officer of the Cook County Health and Hospital System.
Eating natural foods which are much higher in bulk would alleviate these effects, he added.
Lighter environmental footprint
An added benefit of the vegetarian way is a significantly lighter footprint on the earth’s environment. The clearing of much of the Amazon forest to make way for cattle grazing is shown.
Forks Over Knives doesn’t distinguish between organic and conventional food supplies. If we eat pesticide-treated vegetables, wouldn’t that increase one’s risk for cancer?
Future films in this genre could address the social pressures facing healthy eaters. How does one gracefully bow out while most indulge in the pizzas, birthday cakes and drinks that are so integral to our social traditions?
“Wow” factor needed
First Lady Michelle Obama is shown speaking about the childhood obesity epidemic. More of a “wow” factor could have been achieved by including cameos of other famous vegans and vegetarians.
Forks Over Knives can inspire viewers to renew their commitment to a healthy diet, and even begin a shift to vegan eating. (4 out of 5 stars)
Forks Over Knives 2011 / PG / 1 hour, 30 min
Cast Overview: Lee Fulkerson, T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.
Director: Lee Fulkerson
Genre: Documentary, Health, Mind and Body