Food For Thought: A Look At “Forks Over Knives” (2011)

For months, my fellow meat-eating brother was trying to get me watch this Forks Over Knives. And now I have.

The main framework for Forks Over Knives is the story of the personal journeys of pioneering researchers in the field, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyntaken. The story is moved forward when the film’s writer and director, Lee Fulkerson, after receiving a startling diagnosis, consults with specialists who recommend he begin a whole foods, plant-based (no meat, no dairy).

From this point onward, the film makes the case for the claims of Drs. Campbell and Esselstyntaken regarding the ability of  the plant-based diet to protect and, in many cases, reverse, several chronic conditions that medical science have told us can only be taken care of in pill form.

The film lays this information in stark contrast alongside the debilitating health affects the ‘Western Diet’ has had on people in America and the worldwide. It achieves this by challenging the conventional wisdom we have about what is ‘good for us.’

For anyone who has even a passing interest in what they put in their bodies, the information is not necessarily new. But it takes on an interesting and ‘info-taining’ dimension through the data shown and personal narratives from people whose lives have been changed and saved from altering what they eat.

On the downside, if you are someone not so convinced by the arguments for adopting a plant-based diet, the delivery in this program could come across as being a bit preachy. You can walk away feeling inadequate about the choices you have made. It does not help that when we see folks shopping, they are often seen at Whole Paycheck … I mean Whole Foods; for many people, this is not the most accessible of food sources.

In addition, the alternative perspective is given very little screen time, which is understandable, but I would have liked to see both sides of the dietary argument presented in a more balanced way.

One final observation – the counter-argument often made against those consuming a plant-based diet is that its practitioners often lack (or are deficient in) several key vitamins and nutrients. It would have been nice to see them (possibly) refute this contention and prove that yes, you can get all the essential nutritional content from the FOK (forks over knives) eating plan. I suppose the producers presumed that the evidence they presented in the films as it related to disease prevention and treatment is enough to win skeptics over. And let’s face it – that IS a very strong argument in its favor.

Personally, as someone who eats meat (although I have had brief ‘flirtations’ with vegetarianism) I found this doc to be very informative and from what I can tell, based on convincing science. In addition, as someone who lost one parent to cancer and is currently dealing with the chronic (but manageable, if not reversible) illness of the surviving parent, the presenters and key players have made a very convincing case. So much so, that I very easily can see myself tweaking some of my eating habits and persuading my family to implement some of what was presented.

In the end, am I convinced enough to TOTALLY give up all meat-based products? Not likely. But information=power and it allows us to understand and better evaluate food choices.


  1. Saw this documentary a while ago and it was very interesting. It actually made me think about what I was eating for a couple of days, so it does have an impact. It’s a documentary I suggest other people to watch cause it’s never bad to get some information about your diet and how you could possibly improve it.
    Nostra recently posted..The Many Faces of… Robert Downjey Jr.My Profile

  2. This documentary left SO many questions unanswered to me. For example, the book the Whole Soy Story talks is a 400 + page book about the negative health effects of soy consumption. The soy estrogens, the isoflavones, the protese inhibitors, the antinutrients, and the lectins. These anti nutrients lead to over develpoment of sexual organs in infints (girls as young as 5 show breast devolpment when fed soy infint formula). Lets see, there is a huge risk of thyroid cancer and autoimmune dissease.

    Then, there is the Paleo Diet, which talks about the antinutreints found in legumes and grains. Lectins, which are a part of every protien molecule, are toxic when they are consumed from plant protiens. The lectins in meat are fine, but the lectins in grains and legumes trigger and auto immune response that confuses the immune system into attacking itself, leading to autoimmune diseases.

    THEN there is Eating Alive, prevention thru good digestion. This book says it does not matter what you eat, but how you digest your food. So pretty much you cut out all foods you have sensativities to (your suposed to get a blood test done) for six months, you seperate protien meals from carbohydrate meals, and you space out your meals by the average time it takes to digest each meal (depending on its content).

    The naturopath that wrote Eating Alive also mentioned a patient who tried a raw food cleanse and became severly ill, because he had blood o type and needed meat to be healthy.

    Then, there are the harvard studies I’ve read that prove that meat has transaturated fats that are healthy, byes, transaturated fats. There is the harvard study that found eating organic, grass fed RED MEAT is NOT the cause of heart disease, processed meats (deli meat of any kind, sausage, ground meat, pretty much anything that is not a slab of raw meat) are the cause of heart disease.

    So, this documentarty was very interesting to me, but it barly touced on important counter arguments. Mainly, all the research that shows grains and legumes are cancer causeing as well, and lead to chronic disease. Also, they barly touced on organic grass fed beef, or free range chicken.

    So I remained confused and untill someone can discuss each of these points with me and prove that a plant based diet is THE BEST diet, I will continue to eat my organic meat (although I do agree with their point about dairy products, no point in consuming them! I also think that most people consume wayyyy to much meat, a serving size is the size of the palm of your hand, most people eat three times that in one sitting.)

    • Excellent points raised Erika! All of this information makes my head spin! You bring up stuff that I did not think about.

      My main concern was a lack of representation of the contrarian views on the plant based diet.

      I think that the plant based diet pounding aside, a bigger emphasis could have centered on portion control, understanding how much meat should be consumed and limiting or eliminating processed foods and movement should be done to shrink American waistlines.


  1. […] It may not be apparent here on my blog, but I am deeply fascinated by the role that food plays in the American life. I have read several books on food origins and what some think constitutes the best way to approach shopping for groceries as well as consuming said food for you and your family. Previously I touched upon this in my review of the documentary Forks Over Knives. […]

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge