Can you heal the Earth with a plant-based diet? Planeat presents scientific research about the link between human diet and global warming. Shelley Lee Davies and Or Shlomi direct in their feature debut.
Gidon Eshel, geophysicist and Bard College professor, shares his research on how animal-based diets cause higher greenhouse gas emissions.
Planeat is now streaming at the film website, where the DVD is also available.
Ethics of food
“We say that however close you can be to a vegan diet and further from the mean American diet, the better you are for the planet,” Eshel notes about his study.
“It doesn’t have to be all the way to the extreme end of vegan. If you simply cut down from two burgers a week to one, you’ve already made a substantial difference.”
Eating an animal-based diet means encouraging practices like clear-cutting forests for cattle grazing. The average American diet releases 3.5 times more “reactive nitrogen” into the atmosphere than a plant-based diet, Eshel says.
Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University, urges us not to wait for the government to make changes. We can make a huge difference just in the food we buy.
Heart health highlighted
Caldwell Esselstyn, researcher and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic and author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, talks about his 20-year research study. Eating meat, dairy and processed oils injure endothelial cells which line the heart, blood and lymph vessels, he found.
When Esselstyn’s chronically ill patients shifted to a plant-based diet, they stopped and reversed their heart disease. Our food paradigm will be transformed “in the next decade,” he believes.
Ann Esselstyn demonstrates the “hows” of veganism for Esselstyn’s patients as she makes vegan kale sandwiches and waffles. The couple’s son Rip is the author of The Engine 2 Diet.
Studying diet and disease
T. Colin 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.
Campbell is shown teaching nutritional biochemistry and working on a farm plot. His views about diet changed completely since he grew up on a dairy farm, he says. The China Study shows a direct correlation between eating animal-based foods and the incidence of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Campbell acknowledges the great professional risks facing doctors and academic researchers who promote plant-based eating.
Embracing a new food view
Planeat is more quietly persuasive than similar documentaries as it encompasses the big picture: improving our health and the health of the Earth.
A number of vegan chefs talk about their food philosophy. Neal Harden, former executive chef at Pure Food and Wine in New York City, was trained in traditional French cuisine. He now focuses on making “colorful, vibrant” vegetable lasagna, biryani and sushi.
Chefs say their love of food is evolving as they make vegetables the central element on the plate.
Planeat / 2011 / NR / 1 hour, 12 min
Cast Overview: T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, Gidon Eshel, Neal Harden, Yvonne O’Grady (narrator)
Directors: Shelley Lee Davies, Or Shlomi
Genres: Documentary, Food, Nutrition, Healing