Forks over Knives
Executive Producer Brian Wendel
Monica Beach Media
“Forks over Knives” kicks off by looking at the statistical indicators of health, or lack thereof, in America today. Diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease and allergies are so common that it is getting hard to find anyone who doesn’t suffer from one or more of those conditions. We spend over two trillion dollars on health care per year. As the movie points out, it is easy to find a profit motive for the health care industry to maintain this status quo. There is no money in healthy people and no money in dead people. The money is in people who are alive, sort of.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. T. Colin Campbell both grew up on traditional American farms where dairy or beef were the main food products and key elements of their diets. Several minutes of footage are spent showing how healthy these men are. That kind of diet seemed to serve them well, especially Esselstyn, who was an Olympic athlete. Their message now, however, is that their dietary upbringing was a mistake.
We are treated to a discussion of the lipid theory that claims heart disease is caused by fat and cholesterol jamming up our arteries. This is backed by a detailed movie animation showing cholesterol plugging an artery. Many moviegoers may be convinced by such animation but I hope I can be forgiven for being a little skeptical if an artist’s rendition is all the proof they have.
Campbell elaborates on rat studies in which rats fed diets of 20 percent casein deteriorated rapidly while rats fed 5 percent casein stayed healthy or recovered if they were not healthy. This outcome is meant to somehow prove that animal protein in general is at the root of all cancer.
What I see in this film is a whole-food, plant-based diet being compared to a non-whole-food, animal-based diet. It is generally accepted that a high protein, lowfat cuisine is bad for rats. As many scientists and non-scientists have noted, there are many similarities between rats and humans, and therefore rats are used in experimentation as models for humans. I would agree that high protein, lowfat diets are bad for humans too. A whole-food, plant-based diet probably is better than non-whole-food (or non-food), processed, pasteurized, homogenized, chemicalized, plasticized, animal-based diet. All this leads to one very important question: So what?
Real food is better than junk. Apparently this revelation is a great epiphany to the scientific community. There are, however, important details the movie carefully avoids. Animal foods are lumped in with junk food, sugar, and sugary chemicals. The film makers don’t compare whole-food plant-based diets to whole-food animal-based diets. Campbell, as the author of The China Study, likes to cite China as an example of a healthy plant-based diet culture. Kenya is mentioned in relation to having much lower cancer rates than the U.S., but there is no mention of the Masai and their animal-based traditional diet. There is no mention of Eskimo dietary traditions or other counter examples.
The producers include an explanation in some detail of why removing fat from milk concentrates the protein, making it much less healthy to consume, but there is no analysis of whole raw milk. The net result is a distorted picture complete with the usual politically correct agendas. You can see this movie if you want, but there are better ways to waste a couple hours of your life that you can never have back. The thumb is DOWN.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2011.