Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Movie Review: Forks Over Knives

“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” ~Hippocrates

When I first chose a meat free diet over two years ago the most common response I got from my friends and family (after all the why questions) is “Wow, I bet you’re much healthier now” or “I bet you’ll lose weight that way”.   

There is this innate knowledge that a plant based diet is overall very healthy.  Yet most people overlook the option of choosing a plant based diet specifically for health reasons.  Most people assume that someone would only choose a meat free diet for ethical reasons. 

Forks Over Knives is attempting to change that stereotype.  This movie was clearly designed to promote a plant based diet otherwise known as vegetarian or vegan.  However instead of taking an animal rights and abuse approach to the topic this film chose to focus on the health benefits that can come from a plant based whole food diet.

Often times the most vocal proponents of a vegetarian/vegan diet (such as movie makers) can be extremely preachy and one sided.  With that in mind, I went into this movie fully expecting it to be vegan propaganda. Turns out it really wasn’t as biased as I expected and it provided some really interesting information and things to think about. 

This film has a strong focus on the fact that the leading causes of death in this country (heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes) are all completely preventable and treatable and the cure is food.  Whole plant based foods to be more specific. 

A whole food plant based (meat free) diet seems so extreme to many Americans.  But the alternative (open heart surgery, handfuls of medications and side effects, chemo therapy) is pretty extreme as well.  The message of this film is to encourage people to choose to load a fork up with the right foods over a scalpel (knife) later down the line. 

There were some interesting statistics introduced in this film regarding the link between health issues and meat consumption.  But the message is perhaps a bit too simplified.  As much as I would love to see more people embrace a meat free diet, and there are many valid reasons to consider doing so, I don’t believe that meat is necessarily the enemy of public health.  Processed foods maybe but meat? Hmmm… the jury is still out on that one as far as I’m concerned. 

It is not completely clear to me if a plant based whole food diet (no animal products) is any more healthy than a whole food diet that includes moderate amounts of animal products.  Most Americans do eat to much meat  but that does not mean it is necessary to cut it out all together (for health only, again there are other good reasons to decide to do so).    

What can be said for certain is that a whole food plant based diet is far healthier than the standard American diet.  The typical American diet is killing us. Period.

Despite the relentless focus on a plant based (meat free) diet overall I think this movie has a very valid point.  This movie could really open up some eyes.  Some of the studies mentioned are fascinating.  Some of the individual case studies done are nothing short of miraculous.  The people profiled completely changed their lives and overall health within just a few months (or weeks!).  

This film has given me all the more motivation to continue eliminating processed foods from my diet and focus on whole foods.  I would certainly recommend it to anyone who takes their health seriously.  If you are interested check for movie times in your local area. 

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