“Forks Over Knives is perhaps the greatest tool we have had in recent history to promote the plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle to a mainstream global audience. This film will change the way an entire generation of people eat food.” Robert Cheek, Vegan Body Builder
Not everyone comes to a vegan diet for health reasons, especially the young and ideal, but thankfully the most compassionate diet is also a diet that can save thousands of lives and billions of health care dollars. If you’ve read “The China Study,” or “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” then you know what I am talking about: there is direct, scientific, and clear link between meat and dairy consumption and the major diseases we face: heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes.
Now, I know reading a book called “The China Study” may not appeal to many, but thankfully this information is now condensed into a much friendlier and totally engrossing documentary: Forks Over Knives. Seattle, this is a movie that is for the masses and should be seen by everyone you know. Really. That is shy I am giving away tickets to the May 9th pre- screening! (see below).
Last night before the screening I had the great honor of interviewing one of the biggest advocates for a plant-based, whole foods diet, Rip Esselstyn, who also appears in the film. You may know Rip from his book the Engine 2 Diet, but did you also know that he was an Olympic swimmer and a professional Iron Man triathlete? His father, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, along with Dr. Colin Campbell, are the two main sources for the content in the film. He has been vegan since 1987. Yeah, Rip is rad.
VS: Tell me about the importance of a plant-based diet in your life, and why you spend your time and energy bringing this wisdom to the rest of the world?
Rip: When I started this diet in 1987 it was just for me and my health and performance. I found a lot of people along the way asked “why do you eat this way” and “maybe you can help me eat better”. Then in 2003 we had this health scare with JR, one of my firefighting brothers, and I sat around the kitchen table and told the guys, listen, there was a better way. We got all this press and media and realized that being an athlete and firefighter could carry some weight and be influential with a different audience.
VS: Even with the resources like your father’s book, and Dr. Campbell’s book – Why do you think there is such a unwillingness by mainstream nutritionists and doctors to encourage plant-based diets for everyone?
Rip: The status quo is pretty powerful. There is so much of inertia around it. And there are some conflicts of interest, some very, very power groups that are making money right now. Doctors aren’t really motivated. And we’ve got the USDA, that his run by meat and dairy industry insiders, putting out nutritional guidelines.
VS: Do you follow shows like The Biggest Looser? What do you think about their continued pushing of meat and dairy in so many of their diet plans?
Rip: That’s just it. It’s like it doesn’t really matter how much science is out there, how much peer-reviewed science – it almost has to be “As seen on TV” – that is almost more powerful than The New England Journal of Medicine or The Journal of the American Medical Association. It’s a good thing that main stream shows like Opera and Dr. Oz are getting into to it. A show like Biggest Looser could be more influential and believable than the most scientifically sound study. This is why Forks Over Knives is so important. It can reach more people.
VS: Do you think that the health, pharmaceutical, and diet industries are going to watch this film and be moved, or dismiss it?
Rip: Did you see the clip with President Clinton where he stated that he has adopted a plant-based diet? There is a confluence of things coming together. I think this film is really, as Malcom Gladwell would say, a tipping point. I think you are going to find a groundswell from the masses. I don’t think the change is going to come from the top down, it is going to come from the ground up.
“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset that any country, any city, any community, any company, any family can have.” – Rip Esselstyn
VS: Has there been any response from the meat and dairy industries to try to counter the facts in this movie?
Rip: They’ve been pretty vicious with Colin Campbell, his book has almost sold a million copies now. You have a book that is anti-meat and anti-diary and has sold a million copies – they start to lash back. But he loves it. He is going to be on Bill Mar on Friday [May 6].
VS: Many people come to a plant-based diet for their health, but then are encouraged to stay for other reasons? Is the welfare of animals or the impact on our environment also important to you?
Rip: Oh yes. I find that the more that you that you get into this, and the more passionate you are, the more it bleeds into the environment, the economy, and obviously animal compassion. I just learned the other day that there is close to 10 billion animals killed annually and if you were to line them up head to tail or beak to feet that it would go from here to the moon and back 5 times. It is the ultimate arrogance. And it is so unnecessary.
VS: With more and more information coming out about the incredibly negative impact of meat and dairy on our health, through books like The Engine 2 Diet, and movies like Forks Over Knives, what do you think the standard American diet will look like in 10 years?
Rip: I think the Standard American Diet will be plant-strong. Right now if you were to take a look at the Standard American Diet, less than 6% is coming from whole plant-based foods. I say in 10 years that plates will be 50% whole plant-based foods.
VS: If you had one thing to say to people to encourage them to come see this film, what would you say?
Rip: Let’s make this a blockbuster as big as Avatar. Healthy citizens are the greatest asset that any country, any city, any community, any company, any family can have.
Contest: So here is the deal. I want to see what this movie could mean for you and the people you love. All you need to do is post on this blog one or more of the following:
- List the people close to you who have died or are currently suffering from cancer, diabetes, heart and artery disease, etc. List everyone. I’ll start.
- Tell me about the non-vegan that you are going to bring with you. How will you get them to see the film?
- Tell your your own story. Has eating whole foods and a vegan diet changed your life?
You don’t have to be verbose – short and sweet. I’ll draw a random winner each day to receive a pair of tickets to the movie on May 9, 2011. (You are welcome to post anonymously, but then I won’t be able to reach you to give your prize).