Q&A with Forks Over Knives Filmmaker Brian Wendel

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While foodie blockbusters such as Supersize Me and Food, Inc. touched on the health benefits of plant-based eating, Forks Over Knives is the first flick to hit the big screen that has taken the subject on full-force. The documentary features interviews with top-notch physicians and nutrition researchers, including T. Colin Campbell, PhD, coauthor of The China Study. The curtain rises on May 6th in New York and Los Angeles, and May 13th nationwide. On the edge of your seat? Sit back, relax, and enjoy VT‘s conversation with the film’s creator and executive producer, Brian Wendell.

Q  Fork Over Knives makes the connection between the foods we eat and the diseases we suffer from. Why is it so difficult for many Americans to make this connection and, consequently, to make the dietary changes necessary to cure themselves?

A  The challenge is that we have been led to believe from the time we are young that a diet comprised of animal-based foods is healthful and necessary. So attempts to modify diet usually consist of substituting one animal food for another, removing some processed food, or modifying the presence of an individual nutrient like fat. The results in making these changes are not consistent, so it is easy to draw false conclusions about the power of food.

Looking at our daily caloric intake, most of the food we eat is animal-based and refined, regardless of what “diet” we are on. When people shift to a diet based in whole plant foods, there is usually a stark difference and consistent results—like what is seen in the film.  As more people shift to this way of eating, the connection will be more apparent, and even more will make the necessary changes to improve their health.

Q  One of the reasons this film is so powerful is that it weaves the lifes’s work of so many accomplished physicians and nutritional researchers into one tapestry. When you think back on all the interviews that you did for the film, what did you learn that was eye-opening for you?

A  The most revealing thing for me was learning about how our academic institutions have let us down as far as nutritional science is concerned. If they would have supported Dr. Campbell’s and others’ important research, the history of health and nutrition in this country would have been very different. Rates of degenerative disease would be on a downward slope now.

Q  The film connects the dots between so many unsettling statistics. Which of the many statistics cited in the film startles and scares you the most, and why?

A  The most startling statistic for me, because of its clear contrast to the US, is the number of prostate cancer deaths in Japan in 1958. The island nation had 18 and the US, even though it had only about twice Japan’s population, had over 14,000.

The statistics in the film do not scare me. They are evidence that we have control over these devastating illnesses, despite perceptions otherwise. This is good news.

Q  What is your best advice for those who see the film and are inspired to make the switch to a plant-based diet for the first time?

A  Enjoy the journey. There are often challenging moments any time you make a significant life change. Before long, you will likely see the benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet and won’t be missing the old lifestyle.

Want to watch the trailer or catch an advanced screening in your area? Visit www.forksoverknives.com.

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