A new film about health and diet is opening this week at select locations in South Florida. Forks Over Knives is a documentary that examines the claim that most, if not all, modern “diseases of affluence” such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease can be controlled or reversed by rejecting the standard American diet menu of animal-based and processed foods.
The basic storyline of the film traces the personal journeys of two pioneering diet researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Dr. Campbell was a nutritional scientist at Cornell University who had been focused in the late 1960’s on producing “high quality” animal protein to bring to poor and malnourished areas of the world. Campbell was doing work in the Philippines when he discovered that the country’s wealthier children, who were consuming relatively high amounts of animal-based foods, were much more likely to get liver cancer than poorer children who couldn’t afford a meat-rich diet. Meanwhile, Dr. Esselstyn, who was recognized as an accomplished surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task Force at world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, found that many of the diseases he routinely confronted with his patients were extremely rare or unknown in parts of the world where animal-based foods and packaged, processed foods were rarely consumed.
These discoveries inspired Campbell and Esselstyn to each conduct several landmark dietary studies. Campbell’s China study is still among the most comprehensive health-related investigations ever undertaken. Their research, which they conducted independently of one another, led them both to a startling conclusion: diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented—and in many cases reversed—by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet. Despite the vital implications of their findings, their work has remained relatively unknown to the public. The processed food industry and pharmaceutical industry, and the many organizations that they influence, have not been inclined to let the public know that they can prevent and reverse these illnesses and avoid having to take drugs and expensive medical treatments – if they are willing to change their diet and lifestyle habits substantially.
The Forks Over Knives filmmakers follow Campbell and Esselstyn on their parallel paths of discovery, from their childhood farms to China (Campbell) and Cleveland (Esselstyn), where their findings about diets challenged established medical beliefs and even challenged their own core beliefs. Neither was a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle promoter when embarking on their research.
The idea of food as medicine is examined in the film, as cameras follow “reality patients” who have chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. The film shows doctors teaching the patients how to adopt a whole foods plant-based diet as a primary approach to treat their ailments. How patients are able to apply these teachings and the results of their efforts is educational for the film viewer to observe. While some viewers may question the bold promotion of a vegan type diet, it is important to recognize that anyone can benefit from implementing these findings at least partially – just eating more whole plant foods would be a big improvement from most Americans’ current diet. The rapid increase in modern diseases ranging from diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, to allergies, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s disease has been correlated with both modern processed foods and exposure to environmental stresses such as chemicals, man-made electromagnetic fields, and psychological stress. Plant foods in their fresh, natural state are full of nutrients and enzymes that help the body protect itself from the effects of stress and free radical toxins. Processed foods increase the body’s exposure to toxins and free radicals. This film encourages us to recognize the power and responsibility we have to maintain our health.
There are a variety of natural healing and diet films that have been released in recent years (such as Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days, The Beautiful Truth, Healing Cancer From The Inside Out, Cancer: The Forbidden Cures), yet few have reached theaters and mainstream audiences. This film appears to have made its way into wider distribution than others and could spark increased interest in whole foods and vegan nutrition. In the Miami area there are many excellent resources for those looking for whole food vegan resources – with local farmer’s markets from Homestead to Hollywood and vegan restaurants such as La Vie En Raw, LifeFood Gourmet and T.H.R.I.V.E., healing plant foods are increasingly popular.
Forks Over Knives opens on Friday, May 13th, 2011 in the following local theaters:
Miami Beach, Florida
South Beach Cinema 18 (Regal), 1120 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, FL 33139
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Sunrise Cinema at Sunrise 11, 4321 Northwest 88th Avenue, Sunrise, FL 33351