Forks Over Knives: A Review

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“Some people say that eating a plant-based diet is extreme. But millions of people this year will have their bodies cut open, and a vein from their leg sewed onto their heart….Some might also say that’s extreme.” (Forks Over Knives, description of coronary bypass surgery vs. plant-based diet)
 

I watch a lot of food documentaries. I mean A LOT! Some are better than others, but in general I feel like there is so much to learn–about our food system and about how food shapes health. Recently, I watched a documentary that was unlike any that I had seen. It’s called Forks Over Knives and what sets it apart from the rest is its heavy reliance on science to back up the many claims in the film.

The take home of the documentary–eat whole foods and a plant-based diet–is not all that novel. However, this film support that message in super interesting ways.

  1. First, the movie discusses food and health from political, social disparities, cost, historical, energy and environmental, and quality of life perspectives. While some films touch upon bits and pieces of these themes, this is one of the few films to hit upon all of these themes in one coherent narrative (no easy feat!).
  2. Second, the film highlights the lives of two plant-based diet converts–Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Dr. Campbell, a PhD, spent the bulk of his early career advocating for the increased consumption of animal protein. Dr. Esselstyn, a MD, spent his early career “treating” diet-related chronic disease via surgery. Through a most interesting chain of events, these two doctors’ lives converged on a single, yet profound concept–plant-based food as medicine. This concept challenged not only the conventional wisdom of their respective upbringings, but also their early work.
  3. Third, there is a fair amount of science/evidence in this film… in a good way… By the end of the film, you’ll know about the CRP test that measures inflammation in the heart and blood vessels; stats on increased meat, dairy, and sugar consumption over time; what a coronary bypass graft really is; how groundbreaking studies in the Philippines, Japan, Norway, and China (with close to 9,000 statistically significant correlations between diet and disease!!!) illuminated hard to ignore facts about our contemporary diets and health; how the Farm Bill of 1973 helped shaped current obesity rates; how psychology and physiology intersect when we crave and eat food; how changing one’s diet right now can reverse the damage we’ve already done to our cells; the irony of osteoporosis; and how farmer advocacy objectives of the USDA may be at odds with Americans’ objectives to live healthier, more productive lives.

All in all, I absolutely loved this film and would recommend it to anyone who wants to live a healthier life. Sometimes the cold hard facts are enough to light a fire under your bum to make the changes you’ve wanted to make for oh, so long. This film provides the information needed to make those changes and the motivation to make those changes. One of the individuals featured in the film asserts that we all have the power to change our health destinies. We are not helpless victims, we must take more responsibility and stop being so dependent on doctors. I was really encouraged by this. And I hope you are too! 😀

P.S. I’ll be reviewing two more films for Spring Cleaning month, but my next post will be a recipe … and a giveaway! :)

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Tiffany M. Griffin is the woman behind Como Water, Washington DC’s premiere veg-centric cuisine consulting company. Through cooking classes, demonstrations, catering, and consultations, Como Water gives people the opportunity to learn how to prepare veg-centric cuisine that boasts maximum flavor, with minimal effort. Tiffany is quickly becoming a go-to expert on the future of veg-centric cuisine, and is a regular contributor to Como Water, the blog, as well as to vegetarian and vegan sites across the Internet. For over a decade, this self-taught, entrepreneurial expert has developed a set of tried and true techniques for making simple, delicious, and sometimes decadent veg-centric dishes. Featured on the Steve Harvey Show and other leading media outlets, Tiffany was born and raised in Springfield, MA. She then earned Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Communications from Boston College and a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan. She now resides in Washington DC, where she has worked in the US Senate and at a federal agency on issues around health, food, nutrition, and international food aid/development, and of course, as the owner of Como Water. Tiffany gets culinary inspiration from the food she grew up eating, and from her travels throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa. She is dedicated to sharing her wealth of knowledge on veg-centric cuisine with others and to help others live by her mantra—love life, live long, and eat veg-centric cuisine!

Comments

  1. I have this one in my instant queue I’m going to check it out. I like food documentaries and each one changes the way we see food. Thanks for sharing this!!

  2. I’ve seen this documentary on my netflix recommendations list but somehow never watched it. Sounds like I should, since I’d appreciate the science aspect – too often that seems to get lost. Thanks for this review!

  3. This is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. It complete changed the way I think about food – it should be a requirement for people to watch. Wouldn’t it be great if they showed it in every high school health class?

  4. I just watched that a few weeks ago and was also really impressed with it. I can see why it’s not as catchy because it is a little more technical and science based, but packed with great information everybody should know.

  5. I loved this documentary as well. I thought it was beautifully done. I struggle with wanting to eat a plant-based diet, because the animal-based things are so tempting! I hope that someday I will be able to take my health seriously enough to all but eliminate animal products from my diet.

    • Microchanges my friend! 😀

  6. I have been wanting to see this documentary for a few weeks now, waiting for it to become available at my local library. I am just finishing The China Study now and although I lived considerably healthy before, this book has given me a new perspective. It now seems so much clearer and easier to live on mostly plant foods. I don’t feel deprived and I love feeling good all the time. I encourage everyone to at least research and check out all of these fantastic resources available. It is truly life changing in one way or another.

  7. I will watch for “Forks Over Knives.” I like to see food documentaries.

  8. thanks for this review! i’ve seen this in the netflix queue, but wasn’t sure it was worth watching. i tend to see things from a social justice perspective, so i’m glad to see it addresses political and social obstacles standing between people and healthy food.

  9. Thanks for posting this review–it looks like a really informative film!

  10. Totally changed my son-in-laws way of eating and thinking about food. He hasn’t eaten any meat now in nearly 4 months. He has turned to juicing and eating a lot of raw foods. That would be cool if it was shown in schools, but not likely. Thanks for posting this Tiffany.

  11. I have this one waiting for me in my Netflix queue! I have a friend who is a huge advocate for this film and eating a vegan diet, so I am intrigued. This is a great review of the film too. I am kind of a food documentary junkie too! :-)

  12. This film was on my radar when it first came out but I was never able to see it. Thanks for highlighting it again. I really want to see it.

  13. Thank you so much for this post.

  14. One I should watch too as from your sharing, there’s plenty of info and knowledge involved.

  15. Sounds interesting- the science base means might husband might actually watch this with me! Always good to know where your food is coming from, its amazing how we can let that get away from us sometimes.

  16. Great review! Thanks, Tiff! I’ll be watching this on Netflix over the weekend!

  17. Thanks so much for this informative post! Documentaries can prove to be very beneficial and I think your review has encouraged me to watch. After all, no one has died of being too healthy!

  18. My husband and I watched this documentary last year and absolutely loved it. We are not 100% vegans, I love eggs and butter:):):) but we use very little animal protein based products now, because this documentary helped us so much. This is by far my favorite one and everybody should watch it! I am actually reading Dr. Esselstyn’s book right now (I got it more for the recipes, needed some ideas) His son has a documentary called Engine 2 packed with information, and recipes as well. So glad you took the time to blog about it. Your post is excellent!!! Can’t wait until I see your next review amiga!!!

    • Thanks menina! I’ll have to watch Engine 2! 😀

  19. People think that they can eat anything as long as it is in moderation and be okay. I’m not so sure about that!

  20. Hi Tiff!
    This is an extraordinary post and review. I’m moved to see this documentary, and I’ve just learned I can stream it from Netflix. Thanks for making us aware of this important work.

  21. As much food TV as I watch… this is a new one for me. I will have to check it out. :)

  22. I have heard so much about this film. Can’t wait to see it and have my students watch it also. Thanks Tiff!

  23. What a comprehensive review! I’ve been limiting my meat consumption for about a year…my mom has Alzheimer’s and I think there is a huge link between heart health and brain health! Thanks for the recommendation, Tiffany~

  24. This is one of those documentaries I recommend to everyone. I actually didn’t see it until after I had transitioned to a plant-based diet for a few months, but found it was a great summary of everything I had learned so far and very well put together. Watched with an open mind, I think it can change lives! :)

  25. Thanks for the comments everyone! 😀