Forks Over Knives
In a nation that spends trillions on health care, one film puts the power of good health back in the hands of Americans.
For the better part of the last few years, our nation’s “health care crisis” has dominated daily news and done its fair share of fear mongering among the US population. With each newscast, ominous music plays in the background as frightening buzzwords are spouted off: childhood obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. As the country looked toward Washington for answers, Brian Wendel, Lee Fulkerson, and their crew took the road less traveled by mainstream media, putting the finishing touches on a project determined to tell the world about a revolutionary—and simple—solution to its ailing health: Focus on your fork, and soon forget the cost of going under the knife.
Forks Over Knives, Wendel’s first feature-length documentary, explores the powerful correlation between diet and disease, and the conclusion is hard to dispute. The film focuses on the groundbreaking research of T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD. Raised to revere milk as “nature’s perfect food,” both men discovered alarming facts about its relation to disease, along with other animal products, through years of research. When the two finally met, the combination of Campbell’s scientific data with Esselstyn’s clinical trials solidified their conclusion: the Standard American Diet is killing us.
Campbell’s powerful publication, The China Study, lies at the root of the film. “I knew there was a fair amount of research that whole-foods, plant-based nutrition can prevent—and in many cases reverse—disease, but I didn’t know the extent of it until I read The China Study,” Wendel says. In the end, he left his 14-year career in real estate, hired the most talented film crew he could find, and set out to make Forks Over Knives. Lee Fulkerson, writer and director, was hesitant to join the project at first. At the time, Fulkerson’s own diet consisted of multiple energy drinks and sodas—approximately four for breakfast—to make it through his hectic days, until dinnertime delivered a fast-food double cheeseburger, onion rings, and chocolate shake. In an unexpected twist, Fulkerson joins the ranks of the film’s “reality patients,” seeking to improve his own well-being.
Joey Aucoin is another featured patient who adopts a plant-based diet in the film, beginning the experiment with a laundry list of ailments, including high cholesterol (320 to be exact), type 2 diabetes, and high risk for both heart attack and stroke. His medication set him back roughly $200 a month, in addition to the cost of his health insurance. He embodied one of the film’s featured proverbs: “One-quarter of what you eat keeps you alive. The other three-quarters keeps your doctor alive.” At the end of his trial, Aucoin had lost weight, lowered his cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugars, and successfully ditched all nine drugs he was taking.
The patients’ personalities paired with an intimate look at the lives of Campbell and Esselstyn give the film a relatable, anecdotal edge to gently guide viewers through the compelling science. “We wanted to tell stories, because that’s how information sticks with people. We didn’t want to have a talking-heads documentary,” Wendel says. As production of the film proceeded, similar changes began spreading through the rest of the crew. Every person on the core team adopted a plant-based diet, including the producer, co-producer, and interns. Based on the omnivorous crew’s initial reactions, as well as the positive response at screenings, Forks Over Knives is striking a chord.
But it isn’t purposeful shock value or scare tactics that drives Forks. Both ends of the spectrum are represented in an effort to achieve a credible, even-handed tone. “I personally don’t like telling people what to do, but this film is about giving people the information so they can make truly informed decisions,” Wendel says. With advanced screenings in cities across the US, the movie is set to be officially released May 6. “It’s really easy to be negative, and in this film we focus on the positive. This is a message of hope; all we have to do is go down the right aisle in the supermarket,” Wendel says.
Al Gore's New "Resign Trump" Video Promotes Veganism
A new viral video interview with the eco-warrior politician promotes consuming a plant-based diet to fight climate change.
Read More »
Upscale Toronto Eatery Opens Spinoff Vegan Burger Spot
Planta Burger will take over a shuttered fish restaurant as the latest installment of the plant-based restaurant expansion of Chase Hospitality Group.
Read More »
New Vegan Group Launches to Promote Diversity
Nonprofit organization Encompass aims to build an inclusive animal-rights movement to help veganism achieve its maximum potential.
Read More »
World's Largest Meat Company Profits Drop 80 Percent
Troubled Brazilian meat giant JBS reports massive dip in earnings after global meat scandal.
Read More »
New Plant-Based Culinary Course Comes to Florida
McFatter Technical School launches its first plant-based cooking course to prepare future chefs to work in the growing plant-based restaurant industry.
Read More »
- Six-Course Vegan Wine Pairing Dinner Lands in PA
- NYC Vegan Grocery Throws Ice Cream Social for Justice
- More Than One Quarter of Brits Slash Meat Intake
- Vogue Names "Vegan" Top Wedding Trend in 2017
- Vegan Company Launches "Chucky" Bath Bombs
- VegNews Stands Against Racism
- Ne-Yo Embraces New Vegan Diet
- Texas Vegan Bakery Wins $25,000 Grand Prize
- Vegan Cupcake Decorating Studio Opens in Miami
- USC Gets New "Hogwarts" Vegan Dining Station
- Jon Bon Jovi Removes Leather from His Clothing Line
- Vegan Bacon Cone Rolls into London
- Hampton Creek to License Clean Tech to Meat Companies
- German International School in India Goes Vegan
- P90X Founder Tony Horton Sticks to Vegan Diet
- Hawaiians Fight eBay Founder's Plans to Open Dairy Farm
- "Vegan Mafia" Secretly Funds Plant-Based Companies
- All Slaughterhouses in England Must Now Install Cameras
- Impossible Foods' CEO Speaks Out About Animal Testing
- Major Australian Shoe Brand Gets Vegan Certified