Must See: Head Over Heels for “Forks Over Knives”

Last week Wednesday I had the privilege of attending a pre-release screening of the independent doc Forks Over Knives, which opened in New York on Friday. I’d been smarting a bit because somehow I managed to miss the previous week’s event that actually featured speakers; but I was unexpectedly – and unconventionally – blessed when the FOK folks invited me via for round two. Apart from the absence of eats and a brilliant pro-plant panel, it was everything I could have hoped for and more. With an animal lover on each arm (John Bartlett and Dan Mims) I entered the theater at Angelika Film Center and was blown away by this eye-opening – and potentially life-changing – flick. (Please view the official trailer .)

An ethical exposé, Forks Over Knives stops at nothing to comprehensibly combat the status quo. That is, humans’, namely Americans’, unfounded but widely adopted belief that meat and dairy are the cornerstones of our collective diet. The basis of the oh-so-sacred triangle. Well, , and it’s no news you’re soon to witness blaring from your television screen or streaming by on the TV ticker. To put it in perspective, Forks Over Knives condemns the agricultural and dairy agenda as Oscar nominee GASLAND does the oil industry and as Oscar winner Inside Job does Wall Street. [Nudge, nudge.]

And, yet, FOK doesn’t focus on the negatives so much as it delights in sharing the positives. Not only does the film refrain from much mentioning the “ever-dreaded” term vegan, it also omits the egregious underbelly behind the . No wincing calves or squealing piglets are presented to support their righteous stance. FOK isn’t about shock value in that sense. (Though prepare to be enlightened by other sorts of shock; namely facts, figures and personal testimonials.)

FOK indeed succeeds in part due to its absolute adoption of optimism. A “we can do it” ’tude towards health that truly resonates with its viewers, as well as its on-screen subjects. Doctors and studies, specialists and science provide the foundation for this movie. Further bolstering its message, which is less preachy than it is peachy, are individuals who begin as victims (of a sort) and persevere to the point of becoming nothing if not inspirational – and a little intimidating. In the best sense. (There’s a woman in her 70s, diagnosed with cancer in her 40s, who could smoke me in any sport.) Ordinary people previously reliant on pills and needles (heck, even multiple operations!), diagnosed with everything from diabetes to cancer, hypertension to obesity, stand up to disease with the most organic – and accessible – weapon possible: plants. Whole grains. The Earth.

Is it that difficult to imagine Mother Nature being the ultimate source of nurture? The statistics within the film are staggering. The case studies, the doctor explanations (some from former farmers no less, like nothing you’re likely to have heard from your physician before), the stories from chronic illness survivors and award-winning athletes, fire fighters and family members who nearly lost loved ones. It’s hard to isolate just one element that makes FOK so powerful. Much like our own bodies, this film is comprised of myriad separate parts that work together as a symphony. No one limb or organ exists in isolation, within a vacuum. But the way we treat ailments in this day and age, you’d assume otherwise.

Beyond the most startling charts and graphs, the single most arresting thing about this film is the way in which it expertly communicates what media, big business, government and supposed public interest orgs do not. The truth. Nothing is absolute and there are several facets to every topic worth talking about. But if for one second you delude yourself into imagining that news or advertisers or pharma companies or big ag or Capitol Hill or the USDA or the FDA or anyone we’re intended to trust don’t have their eye on the bottom line and a weakness for special interests, think again. And that’s just what FOK does. It challenges you to not only reevaluate what you put into your “temple,” so-to-speak, to read ingredient labels and take accountability for your consumption, but also to question the powers-that-be, because there seems to be a whole lotta wool being pulled over a whole lotta eyes. Something’s rotten in the United States (and elsewhere). Just wait ’til you see what our lax laws allow schoolchildren to consume. Though it hardly takes a scientist of any kind or caliber to look at school lunches and instantaneously lurch.

Animal products aren’t the only dietary no-no’s under attack. So too are refined sugars, artificial ingredients and even oil. These aren’t touched on in nearly as much depth, but the argument is obvious: stop consuming crap. (Thanks, Skinny Bitch.) The vegan who subsists on Frito Lays and Diet Coke is headed nowhere fast, too.

I realize I’ve gone on and on without sharing a solitary stat or quote. I didn’t even namedrop. I want you to see for yourself. Get to know the cast and crew. Take a couple hours and a container of carrot sticks and do yourself and everyone who loves you a big fat favor by bucking up and buying a ticket. This may well be your yellow brick road to the better life, the kind diet. Some sort of enlightenment, no matter what path you so choose.

Forks Over Knives is playing in the U.S. and Canada in limited release. ’Tis a shame, too, as it’s something that should be required education for every person on the planet. So, you think you aren’t capable of kicking bad habits overnight? It doesn’t hurt to try. The outcome could change your life – and delay as well as augment your death. How ’bout them apples?

View FOK Trailer 2 .

For further learning, click on the hyperlinked items within this story and also check out:

Eating Animals

Meat is for Pussies

6 comments to Must See: Head Over Heels for “Forks Over Knives”

  • [...] and not supporting factory farming cruelty.” (Baur, by the way, appears in the must-see doc Forks Over Knives, which explores the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based [...]

  • This is a beautifully written review, and right on target! This movie is very compelling and although I’ve already seen it three times, I’m eager to see it again and take more friends/family members/clients, as the message needs to get out and more of us need to be aware that what we eat greatly impacts our health and well-being. Kudos to the writer, producer, and cast and crew, especially the amazing doctors featured in the film and the patients who were willing to let us share in their journey out of the darkness, for an amazing documentary that will undoubtedly have a very positive effect on the lives of so many.

  • Jane W. Smith

    I can’t wait to see it. When, oh when, will FOK come to Columbia, MO?

  • Lisa Karlan

    Thank you, Nell Alk for your extraordinarily insightful review about this film! I loved every line about your experience and plan to use some of your phrases (with appropriate citations) when I speak or write about this film, which has no doubt changed my life. GREAT REVIEW and GREAT FILM everyone should see!

  • Linda Dussault

    Finally “True Education” about what to eat. Can’t wait to see the movie. The word is getting around fast. Thank you “INTERNET” To me this is the only way that “Health Care Costs” will come down and the only way to send a CLEAR message to the food mfg. that we do not want unhealthy ingredients in our food supply. And the way farm animals are raised and treated is barbaric. Thank you for your efforts to get the word out, now if only we could get the President and Congress to see this. Any chance of contacting the President’s wife, Michelle????

  • Linda Knotts

    My husband and I saw this amazing film in Nov. 2010, as a prescreening in Mystic, CT. We were immediate believers and have been on a plant based diet ever since. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that they gave us delicious food to sample after the film!!) I have always been a good cook but now I feel like I am a better one. Using fruits, herbs, vegies, grains, some tofu, etc. I concoct some delicious meals for us. My husband lost 22 lbs and was able to go off his blood pressure meds and gout medicine. We are in our late 50′s and feel great. I have no ailments except osteoporosis and believe it or not, there is lots of Calcium AND Protein in our diet. Help get rid of the mistaken believe that we need animal protein and dairy in our diets.

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