Documentary Film: Forks Over Knives
Documentary Film: Forks Over Knives, 2011 (Trailer)
Hippocrates said “Let Food Be Thy Medicine,” and Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are,” which loosely translated means, “You are what you eat.” Basically this is the film’s premise. The movie makes the case that our Western diet is literally — killing us.
The documentary presents numerous scientific research studies that make the case for moving away from a diet high in animal-based foods, and packaged, processed, and refined foods, to a diet rich in plant-based whole foods, in order to prevent and protect ourselves from many of today’s modern diseases and serious health problems.
With the highest rates of diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, hypertension and arteriosclerosis in the world–the U.S. is facing a massive health crisis. Diabetes rates are skyrocketing with 1 in 3 people in the U.S. today who will develop diabetes. Every minute in the U.S. a person dies from heart disease. Today 50% of all men 65 to 74 years old and 39% of women 75+ years old take statin drugs to regulate their cholesterol, and 1 in 4 adults over the age of 45 in the U.S. are taking statins, which represents a significant rise in the past two decades.
We have the first generation of children in the history of the U.S. that are expected to live shorter lives than their parents. Hypertension is now epidemic in the U.S.–the rate of high blood pressure has risen nearly 30% in 13 years among children. 30% or 67 million American adults have high blood pressure, that’s 1 in every 3 American adults.
Americans today are eating more meat than ever before, in fact 270 pounds of meat (red meat, poultry and fish) annually, compared with 195 pounds per person in 2000, and 120 pounds per person consumed in the early 1900s. That’s over triple the meat consumed today versus only a few decades ago. Not only are Americans consuming a record amount of meat, we’re consuming the highest levels of dairy we’ve ever consumed in our history at 630 pounds of milk, yogurt and cheese per year, which is more than triple what we consumed a few decades ago.
For me, I found the statistics highlighted in the movie alarming, not only because of the dramatic increase in many chronic and acute diseases in the U.S., but also the increase in consumption of animal-based foods, and the link between consuming an animal-based diet and many chronic diseases. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, M.D., who is at the forefront of nutrition research and is Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, links the rise in heart disease, cholesterol and chronic disease with dietary cholesterol and saturated fat found in meat, dairy and eggs. In the film, he contends that an animal-based diet is the main cause of coronary heart disease.
There are many research studies discussed in the movie, but one that I particularly noted was conducted in the Philippines in the 1960s, just when children started consuming dairy protein in their diet that was previously plant-based. With the children’s increase in eating animal foods and dairy, their liver cancer rates escalated, and every time children were given 20% dairy in their diets as their primary protein source, liver cancer tumor rates soared. In contrast with the group of children who remained on a plant-based diet where there was no incidence of cancer at all, over all the years of the study. The research found that they could actually promote cancer cell growth quite rapidly with an animal protein diet.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., heart surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic’s Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Reversal Program and author of the book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, emphasizes eating a plant-based diet, and recommends avoiding eating meat, dairy and eggs and processed foods entirely. His research on global breast cancer found little to no incidence of breast cancer in certain African and Asian countries who ate a plant-based diet. In Japan, where breast cancer rates were previously unknown, when fed an animal-based Western diet, breast cancer rates started skyrocketing. In the famous, “China Study,” conducted by Dr. Campbell, he studied disease and diet trends in 65 rural regions in China. The study concluded that rural areas with a high consumption of animal-based foods during the 1983–1984 study were more likely to have had higher rates of death from Western diseases while the opposite was true for regions that ate more plant foods. And now, rates of degenerative diseases in China are soaring with the adoption of a meat and dairy-based diet.
Another interesting finding that surprised me was the countries that consume the highest levels of calcium through dairy, namely the U.S. and England, also have the highest rates of osteoporosis and bone fractures. In China and Japan, where people consume significantly less animal protein and dairy than the U.S. — have very low rates of osteoporosis (Yale University research, 34 published studies). And statistics revealed that people who consume the most calcium through animal-based dairy products have the weakest bones and highest rates of osteoporosis in the world.
Both Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Campbell noted the extremely powerful hold the dairy and meat industry have on U.S. consumers and on our federal government, particularly through highly-paid corporate lobby and industry organizations that fight daily to protect these industries, their federal subsidies and their high profits. They noted how the U.S. government food policies are deeply and intricately tied to the beef, pork, egg, dairy and meat industries, and are supporting or subsidizing all of these industries. Dr. Campbell noted how big corporate and industry money supports research to specifically manipulate the research conclusions to benefit these corporations and industries, who spend billions to market their products and push an agenda based on growth and greater profits, not on our public health.
More about Forks Over Knives
Forks Over Knives Website: Forks Over Knives
Forks Over Knives Diet
Forks Over Knives Cast & Crew
Film Director: Lee Fulkerson