Have you ever considered that cutting out meat, dairy and processed foods from your diet might be, rather than just a lifestyle choice, actually healthier? Forks Over Knives is a rather compelling documentary that sets out to prove this is the case.
There’s no shortage of health related documentaries being made in the USA. Not all of them are particularly scientific and so when I sat down to watch Forks Over Knives, a documentary positing the health values of subsisting on a non-processed, plant based food diet, my sceptics hat was firmly on. It begins, as you might expect, by highlighting some of the disturbing statistics concerning obesity and the growing problems of heart disease and cancer, the rising prevalence of which seem to directly correlate with the rise of fast and processed foods.
I was pleasantly surprised by how short this section was. Unlike many documentaries of this ilk, forks over knives wastes little time on finger pointing. There are no secret cameras in the offices of evil CEOs. Briefcase wielding men don’t walk swiftly away while a voice off-camera asks them why they’re trying to poison children. It’s quite refreshing how much Forks Over Knives concentrates primarily on providing a solution.
The solution, they say is this: cut out meat, cut out dairy, live only on plant based, unprocessed whole foods. If you think that seems pretty drastic, I’m with you. But then the results being promised here are also pretty drastic – the control or reversal of a huge range of degenerative diseases. What’s amazing is how convincingly the argument for this is presented. The majority of the argument comes from professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, T. Colin Campbell and physician Caldwell Esselstyn. Between them they present both clinical evidence as well as research based on much larger population studies. The most compelling of these is T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study” in which the impact of the western diet on communities within China is shown to directly correlate with a rise in coronary heart disease, diabetes and several other chronic illnesses.
Now if this all sounds a little dry, then that’s probably because it is. The irony of Forks Over Knives is that the cold hard scientific facts that make the argument so compelling, also make it a little hard to absorb. The sheer weight of statistics being presented is simultaneously very convincing and a little overwhelming.
What really got me thinking though was how Forks Over Knives answered the question “but if meat and dairy are so bad for us, why do so many people say we need them to survive?” This idea is so firmly entrenched in Western culture, it really is amazing to discover what a new idea it actually is. The true answer is one that is very common in western society and also very simple– sometimes the people in charge of telling us what products to buy, are the same people who stand to gain from their sale. This is probably the most interesting part of the argument and the part which does what all the best documentaries do – make you think, question things and potentially see them in a new light.
To sum up
If you can stick with it through all the science and aren’t looking for anything too showy, Forks Over Knives is an important and ground-breaking documentary that may seriously affect the way you think about food. You may not go to the fridge and throw out all your meat and dairy, but it will at least make you think twice about the quantities of each you consider to be healthy.