Last night Jesse and I attended an advance screening of the new documentary, "Forks Over Knives", here in DC. A Q&A session followed the screening with Dr. Neal Barnard of PCRM, Dr. Michael Greger, Gene Bauer from Farm Sanctuary and Bruce Friedrich from PETA.
The film follows the career trajectories of Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who are advocates of using a plant-based diet to halt and even reverse the so-called "diseases of affluence": heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. It also follows the experiences of several people (including the director!) who suffered from these problems and were following a plant-based diet in an effort to change their lives. It was like seeing The China Study brought into visual form. I wanted to show it to every member of my family that suffers from these health problems.
Unfortunately, due to time constraints, the Q&A portion was cut a bit short (let's be honest--I could listen to that group talk all day!). However, it did raise interesting questions, such as should we be using the term "plant-based diet" or "vegan" and what are the implications of each. I find this discussion fascinating. On the one hand, saying "I eat a plant-based diet" seems a lot more palatable to some people, but using "vegan" more often might help to take some of the negative stereotypes out of the word. This led Jesse and I to a discussion about eating mostly plants for the animals versus for health (or both or a host of other reasons) and how those groups of people are really at a disconnect some of the time. I think this movie, about the health benefits, seems fit for a different audience than say, "Earthlings", even if they get at the same essential end result.
Someone also asked about educating their current doctor or if they should change doctors if they received push back on this issue. Dr. Barnard's suggestion, which surpised me a bit, was to continue with your regular doctor, as long as they have good diagnostic capabilities, but follow a plant-based diet and hopefully the changes that brings will show your doctor how useful it can be.
The film is expected to be released into theaters in the fall and available for purchase on DVD later this year or early in 2011. I am hoping it reaches a very wide audience because the impact could be huge.