Forks Over Knives: documentary raises eyebrows, causes controversy | Arts & Culture
It seems that every couple of years, another food-related documentary hits the big screen, challenging the way Americans think about food. Food, Inc., for example, was a controversial film that was released in 2010, and explored the inner-workings of America’s food manufacturers and providers, for better or for worse. Just a few years before, the film Supersize Me was released, chronicling the experience Morgan Spurlock had for one month when he ate only food from McDonalds, to see how it would affect his health (the results were not good).
Forks Over Knives, released in May 2011, attempts to shed light on how America eats, but uses a different angle. Instead of saying, “buy local grass-fed beef,” this film says “don’t eat meat!” A controversial statement, to say the least, but not so controversial that Tyler’s Liberty Theater shied away from screening the film on August 16, nor so much that I would avoid viewing it for myself.
Half of the seats in the Liberty were full for the screening. I’m sure I was not the only non-vegan or non-vegetarian in the theater, but I believe I was in a minority. When the title of the film crossed the screen, cheers and applause went up, as if we were in church and a favorite, well-known preacher was about to take the stage. These were clearly already disciples of this film.
I sat silently. I listened. The movie was well-made, had good production value, and kept a rapid enough pace that I didn’t lose interest in the first half-hour of the flick.
The premise of the film was clear: if you want to avoid heart disease and cancer, become a vegan.
About.com defines veganism as a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines.
Now, as a person who adores cooking and baking, and further, as a Texan, I have to say that the idea of giving up meat and dairy is hard to fathom. Finding grass-fed beef from a local ranch? Yes, I can do that. Give up beef altogether? Do I even want to entertain the notion?
Well, according to the doctors who studied the results of a vegan diet on the human body, studying over 6,000 people, I believe it said, a vegan diet can reverse 40-80% of heart disease in Americans, and has been shown to destroy cancer cells in many people. If I were suffering from one of these diseases, I’d be willing to try veganism, just to have more years with my loved ones. Absolutely.
But for now, while I’m in good health, have great cholesterol levels and excellent blood pressure, I’ll continue to indulge in meat, fish, and dairy. What I did take away from the film is a resolve to supplement my diet and my children’s diet with more produce. I will add more organic fruits and vegetables, already a large part of our diet, and not rely on pre-packaged snacks, which are laden with preservatives and fat. Replace a Little Debbie cake with a juicy peach? I can do that.
The film suggests that we who do not want to give up meat focus on a “plant strong” diet, and that is not such a bad or difficult idea. These are changes anyone can make; as a guest who took the stage before the film began said, “It’s not about changing your whole perspective, but about changing some of your choices.”
You can watch Forks Over Knives and draw your own conclusions by viewing it on Netflix, where it is currently available.
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