So many times we hear, read, watch something and hop on that train without thinking it through. I’m certainly guilty of doing this, and I did this with following a plant-based diet for a period in my life after watching the documentary Forks Over Knives. To be clear, I’m not attacking the plant-based diet, and if this is your dietary choice, there are many benefits and are likely to see a significant boost in your overall health.
Forks Over Knives acclaims that the reason for our heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer is strongly contributed by our refined, processed, and animal based products which can be controlled, or even reversed, by our diet. That sounds amazing! Even though I agree with their concept, I don’t agree with 100% of their ideology.
The first third of the documentary attacks why the consuming animal based products causes heart disease and cancer, and I have to say, they left out a lot of pertinent information that could completely change what they are trying to expose. There were several case studies presented comparing America to the Philippines, Japan, Kenya and Norway. The facts provided ranges from the early 1900s through 2007, which is exactly when chemical agriculture, GMOs, and commercially prepared foods began to be introduced into our modern world. Crisco was introduced in the 1910s; refrigeration, canning, and frozen foods was introduced in 1920’s along with many candies and other sweet goodies; 1930s focused on what was cost effective introducing chemical agriculture; convenience foods made it’s way in the 1940s; supermarkets and drive-inns grew in popularity by the 1950s; and the evolvement of our food has continued. Our meat today can range from organic, grass-fed, free-range, antibiotic free, hormone free, pesticides or herbicides free – it’s seriously getting ridiculous and overwhelming at the market. Our milk products are in the same boat, but someone decided it would be a good idea to “pasteurize”, removing components that boosts health and enzymes that helps us digest it, leading some to being lactose intolerance.
A memorable case study shown was when Hitler invaded Norway, taking all the livestock for his own army. The graph shows an incline of mortality from circulatory disease from 1927 – 1948. The graph starts at 24 and grows to 30 until Germany Invaded, and then drops back to 24. Even though the graph shown is compelling, I’m skeptical. Where’s the graph showing the German’s once they began eating Norway’s meat supply? How was that meat raised and processed? What other dietary changes did Norway end up making other than animal products? Did the mortality change because people died from war casualties instead?
I haven’t seen a lot of strong evidence supporting their claim. Their research stretches about 100 years, whereas hunter-gatherers were dependent on both animals and plants for thousands and thousands of years without record of cancer. Sure, some refused to eat “unclean” meats, but meat was still part of their diet, not to mention they were completely natural foods with no additives. It seems completely unreasonable for to fault food that have been around since life began for our more recent diseases. What’s changed is the processing and refinement of our foods.
High quality, grass-fed, unprocessed meat can provide Vitamin B12, B3 (Niacin), B6, Iron, Zinc, Selenium, Antioxidants, Omega-3, Glutathione, Saturated Fat, Protein, Creatine and other vitamin and minerals. Yes, you can get almost all of these from plants except B12 and Creatine. If you are reading this and think meat is bad for you, click here for an article that was well researched.
If you’re asking yourself, how did the plant-based diet help cure the people in the documentary. The answer is simple, they removed or greatly reduced processed and refined foods, in addition to removing animal products. What we don’t know is, were any of these people lactose intolerant? Since they removed animal products, they could have quickly overcome something caused by lactose intolerance and there’s so many people living with this condition without knowing it. The remainder of the documentary was informative, but because their argument regarding animal products is weak, it’s hard for me to get excited about this documentary. In fact, there are other documentaries that does a better job explaining health concerns and risks related to our food industry which I’ve enjoyed and watched several times.
Bottom line, whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or meat eating; if we ALL stop eating processed and refined foods, we would all see significant improvements in our health.