I didn’t know what to expect when sitting down to watch the film Forks Over Knives, directed by Lee Fulkerson. I didn’t know if a movie about a vegan, whole foods diet would have much relevance to my life, but oh boy was I wrong! The premise is extremely simple, but eye opening as to what we eat and why we eat it, and ultimately what effects these practices have on our health. Here are three important lessons I took away from the film:
1. “Most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.”
-Forks Over Knives
Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn made some startling discoveries based on years of research. While Dr. Campbell was in the Philippines, he made the discovery that 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 found that many of the diseases he routinely treated were virtually unknown in parts of the world where animal-based foods were rarely consumed. For example, breast cancer in Kenya, where women didn’t eat meat or dairy, was 30 to 40 times less frequent than in the U.S.
How amazing is it to realize that degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer can be prevented and even reversed by adopting a whole-foods, plant-based diet!
2. Food myths may be dictating the way you eat.
Most of us have been conditioned to believe that we need animal protein to survive. I know I always associated eating meat and drinking milk with getting your required protein and calcium. But the film argues that this is a myth based in 1950s nutrition research and perpetuated by the powerful beef, poultry and dairy industries.
Of course protein is important, but it does not have to be from animal products. The film shows you can get more than enough protein and the right combination of amino acids from beans, soy, seeds and nuts (findings that are supported by The American Dietetic Association.)
The film also notes that countries with the highest dairy intake also have the highest Osteoporosis rates. Now, I don’t know if this film will push me to become vegan, but it did illustrate how important it is to realize who is telling us what to eat, and to strive for balance in our diet.
3. Food can be the best medicine
The film also puts the idea of food as medicine to the test, and the results are pretty unbelievable. Patients who have chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes are taught by doctors how to adopt a whole-foods plant-based diet as the primary approach to treat their conditions.
It was amazing to see how simply changing their diet had huge impacts on the lives of these patients! No surgeries were required to fix their serious health issues. Changing what was on their fork was all it took to put their health back on track.
I recommend watching the film, even if you don’t plan on adopting a completely vegan lifestyle. It will force you to really think about the impact the food on your plate has on your body, your mind, and your health.
Italian White Bean, Kale and Potato Stew
- 1 cup diced red or white onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes (salt free if you prefer)
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 5 cups red-skinned potatoes cut into one inch squares
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 6-8 packed cups of kale, after it has been de-stemmed and chopped
- 2 15 ounce cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- salt (optional)
Place a large soup/stock pot over a medium high flame and pour some of the liquid from one of the cans of the diced tomatoes into the pot to cover the base of the pot. When the tomato liquid starts to bubble, add the onion and stir. Lower heat a little. Press garlic into pot. Add red pepper flakes (to taste). Continue to cook and stir, lowering heat as the time passes, for a total of about 10 minutes or until onions are soft.
Add the rest of the first can of diced tomatoes and the entire second can into the pot. Bring heat up to medium-high again so that tomatoes begin to simmer. Place diced potatoes, oregano and parsley into the pot and stir. Cover pot, lower heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Place all of the kale into the pot and cover the pot again. Let kale steam and shrink for 3 minutes. Uncover pot and stir in kale. Add Cannellini beans and stir. Taste and season with salt (or not). If potatoes are not as soft as you desire, continue to let simmer.