Review of Forks Over Knives

Forks Over Knives is a life-changing, life-saving film. Medicine- and science-grounded, it details why a plant-based diet is better for you. It focuses on American diet problems, but you can bet Canadians aren’t faring much differently.

Fancy Jane‘ also saw the film, which she quotes: ‘ “Some people think the plant-based, whole foods diet is extreme.  Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery.  Some people would call that extreme.” ‘ She says, ‘That’s my favorite line,… delivered by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a heart surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic.’ She continues, ‘My second favorite line was by one of Dr. Esselstyn’s patients who explained that a plant-based diet means he doesn’t need Viagra. His words were something like, “The flag still rises up the pole.” ‘

She notes that ‘the film touches on the environmental consequences of our society’s meat and dairy consumption…. But mostly it was about health…. Getting off the medications. Having more energy. Reversing disease.’ A plant-based diet is tasty, too!

Myths of an animal-based diet, such as ‘protein in sufficient quantity and quality only comes from animals’, or ‘calcium only comes from dairy’, are debunked. In fact too much of the animal-based protein casein is shown to be cancer-supporting in lab rats. A massive study of what humans eat and how healthy they are was done in China that supports a plant-based diet.

There are many paths to a plant-based diet, even some taken by firefighters and elite athletes. Maybe I’m biased. My physical well-being I credit in no small part to being a vegetarian. My mental health too. I guess in some ways I’m not typical. The film, though, follows primarily some ‘typical’ Americans: one African-American woman, one white man; both have had heart attacks, both saw doctors who recommended a plant-based diet, both reduced their meds, lost weight, got fitter, and will never eat meat again.

Not included are famous vegans such as Carl Lewis, Sir Paul McCartney, Woody Harrelson, Avril Lavigne, Joaquin Phoenix, Natalie Portman, Bill Clinton, Ellen Degeneres–they can afford it, but can you? Can you not? November first is World Vegan Day–an auspicious day to stop eating meat and start eating right.

The human testimonials in the film were inspiring. The animated graphics generally are superb, though a couple left me wondering, what’s that all about? Maybe I have to watch it again, for the film is information-rich. On the way, it touches on the social, ethical, and animal rights aspects of what we eat. Did you know that what you put in your body personally has a global impact? For example, that it takes ten times the energy to make a kilo of beef as it does to make a kilo of tofu? That South American rainforest is being destroyed to make pasture for North American burgers?

But it is the American diet and the populace’s–from birth to death–declining, poor, physical health that remains the film’s primary focus. We learn, in a cartoon with a smiley shark, how evolutionary traits to minimize pain and maximize pleasure have been co-opted by the food industry to make a buck, I mean, to serve you better. (Further information on a plant-based diet’s health concerns and benefits can be found in this wikipedia article.)

By the way. Look closely. In the graphic, that’s no ordinary dinner knife; that’s a scalpel.

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