So I saw this film Forks Over Knives on Tuesday and it basically made me go insane. In a good way, I mean. Long story short, I came home, threw out all my shitty, processed food and made a serious commitment to myself to my family to not let the 90 minutes I spent sitting there, mouth agape, tears running down my face go to waste.
Long story long, it’s not what you think. It’s not some animal rights tear-jerker. In fact, they mention animals for about 5 seconds in the entire film. Not a slaughterhouse scene to be found. I think there might have been a cow, but it had a gob of snot hanging from it’s nose so it wasn’t exactly adorable. And you know what? Good – because I didn’t need another film appealing to my compassion. Cute animals are killed for food. I get it. That’s why I became a vegetarian over 12 years ago. That’s why I went vegan for about 5 years. But an emotional reaction to a situation that, let’s face it, will probably never change isn’t exactly the foundation for a serious life change. Not for me, anyway.
What I really needed, and what I got from this film, was a message that appealed to my will to live, and to my desire to have my husband around until we’re old and wrinkly, and to give my son a long, healthy life. The message was simple: “‘Diseases of affluence’ that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.”
If you’re reading this I can only assume that you already know you should eat your veggies and whole grains. And that’s not because my readers are so smart, although clearly you are, but because any twit who ever watched Sesame Street knows that. But how and why? Well, in Forks Over Knives researchers Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn do a better job of explaining it than I ever could. In a nushell, though, degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, can almost always be prevented—and in many cases reversed—by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet.
So why doesn’t everyone know this? Money. For one, pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to cure your diabetes or kill your cancer. They can’t sell you drugs that way. And the politicians they’re in bed with know it, too. Additionally, the USDA knowingly deceives the American public about the real risks associated with eating things like high fructose corn syrup and an abundance dairy-based foods in order to protect their personal investments in agribusiness.
If you’ve ever lost someone to complications from cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or a stroke you’ll understand that my tears were tears of rage. Why aren’t more doctors advocating a plant-based diet? Is it because they’d rather preform a $100,000 bypass surgery or do they honestly not understand the connection between the food we eat and our long-term health? Or maybe it’s because they know most people would rather eat hot dogs than save their own lives.
I think Dr. Esselstyn put it really well when he explained that some people might think a plant-based diet is extreme – but he would argue that having your body cut in half, ribs spread apart, heart exposed while a surgeon removes a vein from your leg and stitches it to the outside of your heart so the blood can flow (that’s what a bypass is) is pretty extreme. Sho nuff.
So what am I doing about it? Well, like I said – I massively cleaned house. Plant-based certainly doesn’t mean no jellybeans ever, but I know it’s my responsibility to try and find a better way to snack. Then Tony and I talked about how we could prepare healthy meals ahead of time a few days a week, and then warm them up after work. I’ve also been tweeting my meals, and reading what my friends who are also taking the 28 Day Healthy Eating Challenge are eating for ideas.
I think the most important thing I’m coming to grips with during this challenge is that I have to keep it real. Literally and figuratively. Like, I need to really focus on eating real food. Greens, vegetables, beans, fruit, whole grains, etc. If it has unpronounceable ingredients, don’t eat it. And I need to keep it real in the sense that I know myself. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I can adapt and learn to approach food differently – I don’t need to butter my bread, I don’t need to throw cheese on my spaghetti. But sometimes I do need a snack, and I never want it to be the “handful of almonds” every stupid diet book suggests. So I can opt to make coconut milk ice cream, or I can buy something made from scratch and lovely from Hot Chocolate once every few months and know that it doesn’t mean I’ve failed. It means I’m gaining control.
So if you can’t tell yet, I am pro-this movie. I was so encouraged that it’s never too late to take the reigns on your relationship with food and with your body. I really hope you’ll all see it when it plays near you. You might not go vegan, and that’s fine – but at least you’ll have the opportunity to decide what’s best for you and your family.
Have you seen Forks Over Knives? What did you think?