Forks vs. Knives

Last night we watched a film called Forks over Knives, about the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet.  This film didn’t try to persuade us to avoid meat by showing gruesome footage of how animals are mistreated or any of that.  Rather, it showed patients who struggled with (type 2) diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  You know, regular people who started their day with Red Bull to wake up, then took several prescription meds for their various ailments.  People who eat the “standard American diet” and have the most common and worrisome medical issues of the day.

Most of us know we should eat more veggies, but still think of them as a side dish.  The doctors featured in this film actually went grocery-shopping with the featured patients.  They showed how to prepare plant-based meals that were both healthy and yummy. 

My experience with doctors has never focused much on nutrition or diet – so it was mind-boggling for me to see a doctor in the produce section with his patient.  One of my doctors told me I was seriously overweight and should get the extra pounds off (I weighed 140 lbs at the time).  Then he tried to give me a prescription for Lipitor to reduce my cholesterol (it was 202).  I asked him this question:  If I start taking this drug now and also change my diet and get more exercise, how will I know when my cholesterol is controlled by diet and exercise so I can stop taking the drug?  He rather flatly stated that I would be taking the drug for the rest of my life.  Hmmm.  Do I smell some kind of kick-back from the drug companies, or am I just overly suspicious?

Do the patients in the film get to quit their meds due to the changes in their diet?  Do the veggies bring down the cholesterol and blood pressure to normal, healthy levels?  Can diet alone control (type 2) diabetes?  If you are starting to see your own blood pressure go up, cholesterol enter warning zones, or blood sugar increase to pre-diabetic ranges, get this film onto your Netflix list and spend 90 minutes watching it with your significant other(s). 

The point is, who is responsible for keeping us healthy?  The doctor with his prescription pad?  Or can we take care of our own health by eating foods we know are good for us and avoiding the Ding Dongs, greasy stuff like KFC, and thick slabs of prime rib?  I don’t see myself going completely to plant-based food*, but this film helped me see some better choices I can make starting now.  Let’s be healthy out there!

*  I love Scott Jurek’s comment in a recent article about preferring the term “plant-based” rather than “vegan” becaue “vegan” sounds like “crazy”.  Scott is an ultramarathon runner who won the Western States 100-mile run 7 times and recently published a book about his food experiences called “Eat & Run”.

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