Vegging Out

Still eating meat? You are going to die: Examining the porn-like celebrity chef addiction & more

Still eating meat? You are going to die: Examining the porn-like celebrity chef addiction & more

Face Meat
A new film challenges the idea that eating meat is good for humans,
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"Forks Over Knives" advocates for a whole food plant-based diet from a clinical and scientific research approach.
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Colin Campbell was involved in the largest diet study, publishing his findings in "The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health." Monica Beach Media
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Martial artist Mac Danzig shows that vegan is not synonymous with weak. Photo via Forks over Knives/Facebook
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Firefighter Rip Esselstyn lowered his cholesterol and published his experience in his book, "The Engine 2 Diet." Photo via Forks over Knives/Facebook
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San'Dera Nation got her diabetes and hypertension under control. Photo via Forks over Knives/Facebook
News_Forks over Knives_Evelyn Oswick
Evelyn Oswick was able to reverse her atherosclerosis and live many years after her second heart attack. Monica Beach Media
Face Meat
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News_Forks over Knives_Dr. Colin Campbell
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News_Forks over Knives_San'Dera Nation
News_Forks over Knives_Evelyn Oswick

Food trends and health studies are über discombobulating and not necessarily congruous with each other.

On one hand, there is the local, organic, green eco-conscious and raw-esque movement. Others are throwing every fatty pig part (from a local provider) on a plate and calling it artisanal . The dish has kale, so it must be healthy!

Think that most live somewhere in the middle? Not at all. Animals still reign supreme on American's dinner plates.

What do animal-derived foods provide that is essential for our health? Protein, right? That's how most people would reply, perhaps citing nutrients like iron, B12 or calcium as must haves.

The new film Forks Over Knives, ironically warning that the intel provided may save lives, tells a different story while tracing the parallel lives of two men on different journeys ending up at the same spot: veganism, more specifically, a whole foods plant-based diet.

Veganism is simply a diet that eliminates all animal foods including dairy, eggs, honey, meats, poultry and seafood and any derived byproducts like gelatin and casein. But there are plenty of processed and sugary nutrient devoid foods that still live in this category like Nestle Double Chocolate Thin Mints, 7-Eleven 7 Select Cherry Snack Pie and Sour Patch Kids.

The whole foods plant-based lifestyle concentrates on ensuring we are consuming nutrient rich foods that are as close to their original source and state, without going through permutations or complicated processes, retaining their fiber, nutrient and live enzyme content. This means no Oreos, Dum Dums, Cracker Jacks, Fritos or Swedish Fish. 

From a scientific perspective, nutritional researcher Colin Campbell — the professor emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University and project director of the China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project — linked higher percentages of cancer to higher consumption of animal foods. And from a clinical viewpoint, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, associated with the Cleveland Clinic since the late 1960s, drew conclusions on the reversal of atherosclerosis following a vegan diet, one that he and his wife have followed for more than 20 years.

Both men shared a common background: Growing up on a farm that harvested animals and animal products, touting their benefits. Believing that milk was nature's perfect food (for a calf) and meat was essential for development.

But they both now reject a lifestyle that played a major role during their respective formative years. 

The film aims to provide more advocacy for an affluent nation (that's us) that is increasingly suffering from preventable illnesses, studying areas where the adoption of the animal-rich Standard American Diet has brought convenience and disease.

Those who have already adopted the vegan diet and lifestyle will learn very little from the film. Actually, it is just a regurgitation of something we should already inherently know from information that has been around for decades.

So why do we need yet another documentary that tells us something we should already be practicing?

Easy. We are a stubborn bunch. We don't listen simply because we know better. The "wisdom" of our past cannot possibly be wrong, and we are inspiring others to live like we do.

New Examples

Food has evolved from a basic necessity to a gluttonous artful obsession, with swooning over celebrity chefs with porn-like addictive determination. Calorie-rich foods, according to Forks Over Knives, trick our satiety systems in believing we need more, and more, and more. Portions have gotten bigger over time. And as a society, we are getting sicker and fatter, shooting up health care costs and forcing some industries to change to accommodate our larger sicker selves. 

And yes, we need another movie to tell us about it. Even if we don't believe the environmental consequences or ethical implications of animal production, when a film puts a gun to our heads and threatens us with death, I hope we listen.

Some people did and are featured in the film. 

Evelyn Oswick was told to go home and die after her second heart attack. Instead, after following Esselstyn's regime, she is alive and well many years later. San’Dera Nation, ironically working for a diabetes center, suffered from diabetes and hypertension. After a drastic diet switch, both conditions are now under control. Ruth Heidrich fought breast cancer with the help of a new diet, and now in her 70s, continues to run marathon after marathon. Joey Aucoin used to live dependent on medications, but after committing to a whole food plant-based diet, he was able to ween himself off many drugs, lose weight and feel his best.

For those that feel vegan means weak, mixed martial arts competitor Mac Danzig and firefighter Rip Esselstyn (Dr. Esselstyn's son) prove otherwise. Danzig shows off his killer bod and deliberate combat moves. Rip Esselstyn shared his knowledge in his book, The Engine 2 Diet.

And yet, childhood diseases like obesity, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease are on the rise as Americans do what we have always done, even faced with predictions that this next generation's live expectancy will be the first to be shorter than the previous.

I can't imagine that's what we want.

Organizations like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which advocate for food growers while telling the public how to eat (anyone see anything wrong with that?), cannot be truly objective. A suit filed by the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine against USDA recently won in its first round with the court finding that the USDA violated "federal laws when it selected individuals with known financial ties to various food industries to serve on the advisory committee that drew up the nutritional guidelines."

The movie also questions the group's ignorance of healthier alternatives to the current MyPyramid diagram and argues over the split of dairy categories that encourage their consumption.

And culprits like Connie B. Diekman, director of University Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis and former president of the American Dietetic Association, would like you to keep drinking milk despite some studies that show increased dairy consumption result in higher rates of hip fractures and osteoporosis. 

Are you still eating meat? If so, watch the movie. Diet is so much more important than anyone ever thought. 

Here is the trailer: