Forks Over Knives is a documentary (and accompanying book) which sheds light on the links between diet and disease, based around the research of Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn. From diabetes to heart disease to cancer, studies have shown time and again that plant-based, whole food diets can stop, and sometimes even reverse, these maladies while animal based foods cause them to worsen. Dr. Esselstyn put it beautifully by pointing out that the “extreme diet” of veganism seems hardly extreme at all next to the extreme surgeries (he used bypass surgery as an example) required to correct diet caused illnesses.
The documentary also beautifully illustrates why we are so drawn to foods in the Standard American Diet. Biologically, we are evolved to seek out the richest foods, as these tend to be the highest in nutrients when found in nature, while exerting as little energy as possible. Unfortunately, in the fast food, grease ridden world of today, the riches, quickest foods are no longer the most nutrient rich. Thus, our bodies are tricked into eating rich, calorie dense but nutritionally void food. Even worse, this biological makeup actually causes us to have “low grade addictions” to unhealthy foods.
Of course the documentary, and most vegan books and movies, falls prey to research that, while worthy of taking to heart, leaves gaps. Most of the studies do not really show much difference between eating no animal products and eating very little animal products as far as health is concerned. They also tend to generalize cause and effect, not taking other factors into consideration, and the issue of fish in a healthy diet remains up in the air. Nonetheless, this is an important documentary, if only because it sheds much needed light on the importance of diet. Many Americans today don’t stop to think about how they can heal their bodies by carefully researching their dietary choices, and are too quick to pop a pill and not quick enough to change their unhealthy ways.
Also check out this great post about the movie that leaves no stone unturned!