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.🖨️ Print post
Thanks Tim! My wife watched this then started telling me how bad it was to eat meat. It sounded like a plug for vegetarianism so I didn’t watch allthough I love docs about the food industry. Came here to find the scoop and you had it! Thanks!
This feels like a very biased review of the film and the research. It seems that you did not really watch the film with an open mind, or even really watch the entire film at all. People get very defensive when their diet is challenged. The goal of this film is clearly to publicize very surprising research (surprising even to the researchers) done on a mass population and it is pretty clear that a whole foods, plant heavy diet is the healthiest diet for disease prevention. While I agree, quality animal products can be used in moderation, your review is doing a disservice to your readers. We are all have the same goal, to live a long, healthy, disease-free life. Absorbing as much knowledge as possible that gives us tools to do so is in the best interest of us all. Its disappointing to see someone dumb down such a quality and life improving film that can really help fix the broken health of the American public. We are all on the same team- better health for all Americans. We need to start working together to do this and stop being so defensive of our current ways of eating.
Tami Greene says
Forks over Knives – enjoyed the movie and learned from it.
I’ve been a WAP follower for a while and use whole raw milk, farm fresh eggs, and quality meats in my diet. I really enjoyed the movie and did learn a few things from it. I think everyone needs to see it, because it reiterates what WAP has tried to get people to see – the government and big corporations are in bed together and cannot be trusted to give quality dietary education. While I do not believe veganism is the answer, I believe for most people a traditional diet is very heavy on plant-based foods. Hunting game and growing meat is expensive and most families couldn’t afford to eat a lot of meat. My family, while we still eat animal products, have greatly reduced the amount of “meat,” for more economic veggies. So, I say thumbs up with an educated mind!
Good movie – needs balanced though
I’ve been a big fan of WAP principles for a while now. I watched Forks over Knives and agreed that a diet consisting of junk and a lot of meat & dairy isn’t good. However, I don’t think we need to get rid of it 100%. A lot of the patients on the documentary made very poor health choices before going on the diet. I would’ve liked to have seen the results if they cut back a lot on meat, dairy (and only used good quality), and eliminated junk food all together. I’m sure they would’ve seen significant results as well. I think eliminating junk from our diet removes junk from our body smilies/smiley.gif I would recommend the film to people that are on medications and make poor health choices, but not encourage them to go vegan, just eat less meat, dairy, sugar, refined food and more nutrient-dense food.
I watched it and felt it was compelling. I will not be throwing out meat and dairy any time soon, but I will be increasing my plant based food consumption.
William Prowse IV says
I think the movie missed a lot of important points. First off, it was comparing vegan diet to a diet with factory farmed meats/eggs/dairy. That stuff is poison! Another thing to mention is the fact that you will die if you do not consume b12. B12 is only in animal products. I think that having lots of fresh organic plants are great in a diet, but to say that you should not have animal products is assuming a lot!
Chef Keidi Awadu says
You missed the facts with your Kenya reference. The Masai have a low life-expectancy compared to other ethnic groups which consume mostly plant-based sources of protein. Check the facts before using African meat and dairy consumers as reference. It is the opposite of what you appeared to present. The more plant-based, fiber-rich food consumed in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, the more we see correlation to lesser rates of Western-associated non-communicable diseases of malnutrition.