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Forks Over Knives 01/11/11

A compelling new film, Forks over Knives, claims that adopting a plant-based diet could prevent many diseases.

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A very interesting film which will be premiering in the United States in March, Forks Over Knives, examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the so-called “diseases of affluence” that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.

What has happened to us? Despite the most advanced medical technology in the world, we are sicker than ever by nearly every measure.

Two out of every three of us are overweight. Cases of diabetes are exploding, especially amongst our younger population. About half of us are taking at least one prescription drug. Major medical operations have become routine, helping to drive health care costs to astronomical levels. Heart disease, cancer and stroke are the country’s three leading causes of death, even though billions are spent each year to “battle” these very conditions. Millions suffer from a host of other degenerative diseases.

Could it be there’s a single solution to all of these problems? A solution so comprehensive but so utterly straightforward, that it’s mind-boggling that more of us haven’t taken it seriously?

The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.

Dr. Campbell, a nutritional scientist at Cornell University, was concerned in the late 1960’s with producing “high quality” animal protein to bring to the poor and malnourished areas of the third world. While in the Philippines, he made a life-changing discovery: the country’s wealthier children, who were consuming relatively high amounts of animal-based foods, were much more likely to get liver cancer. Dr. Esselstyn, a top surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, found that many of the diseases he routinely treated were virtually unknown in parts of the world where animal-based foods were rarely consumed.

These discoveries inspired Campbell and Esselstyn, who didn’t know each other yet, to conduct several groundbreaking studies. One of them took place in China and is still among the most comprehensive health-related investigations ever undertaken. Their research led them to a startling conclusion: degenerative 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 profound implications of their findings, their work has remained relatively unknown to the public.

The filmmakers travel with Drs. Campbell and Esselstyn on their separate but similar paths, from their childhood farms where they both produced “nature’s perfect food”; to China and Cleveland, where they explored ideas that challenged the established thinking and shook their own core beliefs.

The idea of food as medicine is put to the test. Throughout the film, cameras follow “reality patients” who have chronic conditions from heart disease to diabetes. Doctors teach these patients how to adopt a whole foods plant-based diet as the primary approach to treat their ailments—while the challenges and triumphs of their journeys are revealed.

Forks Over Knives utilises state of the art 3-D graphics and rare archival footage. The film features leading experts on health, examines the question “why we don’t know”, and tackles the issue of diet and disease in a way that will have people talking for years.

Forks Over Knives was filmed all over the United States, and in Canada and China.


T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry, Cornell University; Project Director of the China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project; author of more than 300 research papers
and recipient of more than 70 grant-years of peer-reviewed research funding; served on several grant review committees and actively participated in the development of national
and international nutrition policy; internationally known lecturer and co-author of The China Study.

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D.
Former internationally known surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic; served as President of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons and Chairman of the Cleveland
Clinic’s Breast Cancer Task Force; written over 150 scientific publications including his bench mark long-term nutritional research on arresting and reversing coronaryartery disease in severely ill patients; author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

For more information, check out the website at

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Laura Cooke is the editor and creator of the Veggie Bunch website and community.

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4 Responses to this article

Roline January 12, 2011 Reply

Interesting. But I am not convinced.

The movie seems to be based on the premise that the consumption of all animal products causes diseases, but it is widely held (and researched) that there are a number of factors involved, and that the umbrella-discussion in this movie (based on the above) is too broad to be considered “ground-breaking”:

* It is the TYPE of meat consumed: In the animal and dairy industries the use of growth hormones injected into the animal prior to slaughter may be linked to diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart illnesses.

* Free-Range meat: For the above reason, it may be that free range meat is healthier than large scale mass produced meat and greatly reduces your chances of getting illnesses, as it is essentially the growth hormones that give cause for concern. It would be interesting to see whether the doctors in the movie look at people who only consider free range meat as part of their diet, or whether this group of people are wholly excluded from their findings.

*Another factor to consider is the AMOUNT of meat being eaten: What happens to someone who chooses to eat meat on the rare occasion? Are their chances for contracting illnesses increased, or are they not part of the experiment? If they are not considered because they predominantly eat a plant-based diet, then the reason for contracting illnesses is not because they eat meat, but comes down the AMOUNT of meat being eaten.

I am already a vegetarian, but by the sound of this movie I am not convinced that meat in my diet would make me sick. Factors such as amount and type of meat eaten should be considered before claiming that a meat-based diet is responsible for “diseases of affluence”.

It would be interesting to see the movie to see if any reference is made to any of the above factors. Any idea if it will be available in SA?

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Roline January 12, 2011 Reply

After writing this post, I did a bit of reading and found a brilliant article which supports my irritation at one of these doctors’ findings in the movie:

The article claims that the movie’s research “reveals a heavy bias and selectivity with which Campbell conducted, interpreted, and presents his research.”

Read it and decide for yourself.

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editor January 12, 2011 Reply

While I haven’t looked in-depth at exactly what they propose, I think the gist of it is that we have become too reliant on fast-food, processed food and eat a predominately meat-based diet rather than a plant-based diet.
I have mailed the company to ask about SA screenings, but have yet to receive a response…

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editor January 13, 2011 Reply

Update: I received a response from the Forks Over Knives marketing department. At the moment details about an international release are still to be decided. They suggest signing up to the newsletter for more updates.

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