Eating Green22 Aug, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff
‘Forks Over Knives’ touts the benefits of a meat-free diet
Americans by the thousands are living with degenerative diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and various forms of cancer. According to recent statistics, one in three people in the United States will develop diabetes, 40% are overweight and nearly 50% take some sort of prescription drug.
But what can we do about it?
Brian Wendel, creator and executive producer of the documentary Forks Over Knives, says it’s as simple as adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet. Wendel, who has been living the meat-and-dairy-free lifestyle for the past 10 years, encourages viewers to try it for themselves and see what happens.
“People think that diet matters a little bit,” he said. “But there’s evidence that it matters a lot, in that there’s a particular way of dealing with [these health issues] that’s very effective.”
And with more than $102 billion spent each year on medicines prescribed to combat these leading diseases, Wendel said, “It seems there’s [also] a great way of helping our economic situation, when so much of our money goes toward health care.”
Virgil Films & Entertainment releases the documentary Aug. 30 on DVD ($24.99) and Blu-ray Disc ($29.99).
Forks Over Knives examines the correlation between consuming animal-based, processed foods and poor health, and explores an alternative vegan diet as a solution, based on the research conducted by Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. At the same time, the film chronicles director and writer Lee Fulkerson’s switch to a whole-food diet, for the sake of improving his health, as well as real-life patients’ journeys.
The concept for the film emerged in the summer of 2008, after Wendel read Dr. Campbell’s The China Study, which found that people in nations such as China who eat a largely vegetable and grain diet had markedly fewer instances of breast cancer, hypertension and other ailments.
The DVD and Blu-ray include six featurettes, mostly extended interviews that were cut from the final film. Wendel said his favorites are the insightful “What About Organic Meat and Dairy?” which debates whether the quality of the meat is a factor in adverse health conditions, and “The Latest on Diabetes,” which dispels misconceptions about the disease that’s increasingly prevalent among American youth.
“For instance, it’s pretty much not the case that diabetes is a disease of healthful carbohydrates, but rather it’s more of a disease of fat,” he said.
While vegetarianism and veganism long have drawn skepticism, Wendel said, surprisingly, people who have seen Forks Over Knives have been open to the challenge of switching to the whole foods, plant-based diet.
“People are very joyous about the changes that they’ve seen,” he said. “Their cholesterol has dropped; they feel better; they’re taking less insulin. The one thing people don’t want to do is suffer.”
Wendel added: “We really create a situation where we invite people into a discussion about it. We didn’t do a movie where we beat up on people for what their diets were in the past. It’s really a message of hope. It’s about the fact that we can do something about something that’s troubling so many people in our population. … It’s a sober presentation of the evidence.”
More information about the film can be found at forksoverknives.com.