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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    A Look Back.



Forks Over Knives.

I have been excited about seeing Forks Over Knives since I first learned of it and watched the trailer way back in the fall.  The movie opened here in Seattle last week, so the three of us ventured over to the University of Washington campus last night to finally see it for ourselves.

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I have seen many of the mainstream movies about the American diet and the effect it is having on our world – Food, Inc., King Corn, No Impact Man, Super Size Me, etc.  Most of the movies I have watched in the past have focused on food politics and battling big industry.

While Forks Over Knives touched briefly on some of that, this film for the most part took a different approach, focusing on scientific and medical evidence as a means to promote a whole foods, plant-based diet.  Through a compilation of charts, research, personal stories, historical data, and more – Forks Over Knives is a (convincing) 90 minute look at how eating a plant-based diet can literally change the world as we know it.

I have always felt that dietary choices are just that – choices – individual to each person.  While I make no secret of the choices that I make, I try to also make sure to keep an open mind and not judge or antagonize others who choose differently. 

I have always hoped that my blog would provide an opportunity for me to lead by example – showing that healthy, vegetarian food can be delicious and full of flavor.  Rather than relying on scare tactics and propaganda, I’d rather talk about whole grains and how to cook food straight from the market

With all of that said, there were a few key parts of the movie that struck me to the point that I couldn’t help but share them with you.  First was the case of Joey Acoin, the self-proclaimed “meat and potatoes man” from Tampa, who’s diet and lifestyle had led him to life threatening blood pressure levels and type 2 diabetes. 

1-Joey Acoin

After months of daily pills and injections that did nothing to improve his quality of life or health, he sought help from the doctors featured in the movie.  Their treatment was to use food rather than medicine to reverse what appeared to be his likely path to an early death.  His attitude was refreshing, as he was honest and open admitting, “I know in reality many people eat to live, but I’m the kind of guy that lives to eat.”

Two months later, after no medical interventions other than a total diet overhaul, Acoin had lost nearly 30 pounds, and was completely off of all daily medications, including his insulin injections.  The former “meat and potatoes man” was now advocating a plant-based diet to his whole family, and said he’d had never felt better or more alive.

The second example was actually the son of one of the primary scientists involved in The China Study (the book from which the film was based).  Rip Esselstyn is a former professional triathlete turned firefighter who worked to defy the stereotype that “real men eat meat.”

4-Rip Esselstyn

After learning that one of his brothers in the firehouse had cholesterol levels over 350, he led his firefighting family to adopt a purely plant-based diet as a means to support their friend in need.  These burly firefighters from Texas talked about how in their world, barbecue is a sport, and men who eat vegetables aren’t respected. 

But Rip earned the respect of both his team and the audience, as he climbed the fire pole using only the strength of his arms, all along the way repeating “real men eat plants.”

I walked out of the theater feeling both inspired and frustrated.  The movie reminded me of all the reasons why I love my vegetarian diet, and why healthy food has become such a passion for me.  As a woman, I think it’s much easier for society to accept my vegetarian choices, and while as times I don’t necessarily feel supported, I rarely feel mocked.

I wish I could say the same for my husband.  Male stereotypes are unavoidable in modern marketing, and every time I turn on the TV I feel like I hear something to the tune of “real men drink Miller” or “this plate of baby back ribs is a man’s meal.”  When did we start proving ourselves through our plates, rather than our words or our actions? 

My husband is a vegetarian.  He’s also a seven-time marathoner, changes the oil in our car himself, and can cook as well (if not better) than I can.  It infuriates me that he is constantly made to feel like an outsider, and forced to defend choices that are both improving his health and our planet.

I left Forks Over Knives feeling as committed as ever to my plant-based lifestyle, and immediately headed home to prepare a delicious vegetarian meal.

IMG_9746 (640x427)

The movie came at a good time, as I am just finally over the pregnancy-sickness hurdle, and am enjoying creating food that makes me feel healthy and fabulous again.  Like I said before, I hope that regardless of your food choices, you never feel judged or questioned here.  Instead, I hope that both the committed vegetarians, and those who are just curious – can all find something to take away to both their kitchens, and to their lives.

Because if there is anything I have learned as a vegetarian, it is that through whole foods and healthy choices, you can most definitely eat to live, while still living to eat.

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117 Comments so far
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LauraJayne     at 1:36 pm

Great review – I definitely want to see this movie! I have learned, firsthard, how healing a vegetarian diet can be. While I never want to be a judgemental vegetarian, I do believe that a vegetarian diet helped me to re-connect with food and health when I needed it most!

[Reply]

Ashley O. @ The Vegetable Life     at 1:41 pm

I would love to see this movie and show my meat-loving husband!

[Reply]

Abby     at 2:49 pm

I completely advocate eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and occasionally nuts, but I think that eating high quality, sustainable meat on occasion (and this means fish too), maybe a few times a week, is good for you.

If you can get lean meat as well as eggs, hopefully gotten at a farmer’s market or a credible farm, I think that you should eat it. I was a vegetarian for a long time, but my problem was actually grains. I would just overeat all grain products, always. Getting away from more grains has helped me stop binge eating.

I just don’t trust grain products and aside from a bit of dark chocolate or some yogurt now and then, I think that the carby-sugary foods are pretty bad for you. I dunno. Some people can tolerate grain products, whole grains, etc, but I used to overeat steel cut oatmeal, if you can believe it. Legumes are testy too, though on occasion I think they’re fine.

My favorite grain is probably white rice though! It’s versatile and delicious and often accompanies Asian cuisine… so yay :)

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

I think my post and your comment are both great examples of the idea that you have to do what works best for YOU! :) Everyone really does tolerate grains differently. For me, being a vegetarian goes far beyond health benefits too.

[Reply]

Marta     at 4:16 pm

Hi Emily, love the baby belly!!

I totally agree with you, the “manly” food marketing is so annoying. I don’t know if it’s just my man or if most guys are like this, but this type of attitude doesn’t bother him at all. He’s not totally veg, hasn’t been able to shake his Butter Chicken addiction ;), but he chooses veg the rest of the time and it still surprises our family and friends. He’s become quite the advocate of plant based foods simply because of how good he feels. And while our friends are hitting that 30 plus age and struggling with their beer + rib guts, Jeremy has never looked better. I think that alone keeps our buddies from bugging him about his veggie lifestyle.

M :)

[Reply]

Marta     at 4:20 pm

that’s too bad Cassie. My guy never gets that even though he’s pretty loud about his (mostly) veggie choices. But I bet he looks a million times better than any of those burger-eating guys and that should make up for their ignorance ;)

[Reply]

Amykinz @ Foodie4Healing     at 8:55 pm

I REALLY want to see the movie, but I have to wait at least 8 more weeks until this baby comes out. Reason? My midwife, kinesiologist AND endocronologist are all urging me to consume meat. For the past (almost) year, I have led a vegetarian-only diet, so I wasn’t thrilled when I was diagnosed w/Gestational Diabetes (again) and that the only thing keeping me off insulin is to consume meat. I know if I watch the movie I’ll want to go back to vegetarianism. I do plan to return to that lifestyle after baby, but until then, I need to do what’s necessary to keep me off the insulin. I am envious that you are doing so well being pregnant on a vegetarian diet. I wish I could say the same.

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Oh wow, I have never heard of needing to eat meat for gestational diabetes. I’m not sure what I would do! What a tough situation – I’m so sorry. Sounds like you are already a great mom though, doing what you need for your baby. :)

[Reply]

Amykinz @ Foodie4Healing Reply:

Gestational Diabetes is all about balancing carbs with fiber and protein and for some reason, the only protein that seems to be keeping my blood sugar levels low is hormone-free, grass-fed beef and chicken. I still eat nuts, nut butters, cheese, etc, but they don’t do as good of a job. It’s really bizarre!

[Reply]

Katherina @ Zephyr Runs     at 8:17 am

I can’t wait to see Forks Over Knives!
Jon and I are vegetarians at home but not always outside the home (well, he’s not) so we haven’t encountered the male-vegetarian-quizzical-look… I don’t look forward to that.
We’ve been craving hard scientific numbers rather than countless opinions, maybe Forks Over Knives can give us some insight or references to other studies.

[Reply]

Cindy Robinson     at 11:23 am

Wow, I am blown away by this post. I enjoyed everything about it. I truly love your take on all of these aspects, especially the sterotypes, and your ability to be open to all choices. You make me feel comfortable being someone who is not vegetarian. The more I read your blog, the more intrigued I have become about this lifestyle. You make your healthy living look like fun, and delicious, and nothing to be embarrassed about (sometimes I get funny looks from my husband when I get almond milk, or make vegetarian meals). I feel even better about leaning toward a healthier way of life. And perhaps one day my husband will follow suit. Thanks for being you Emily!

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks Cindy! :)

[Reply]

Rachel     at 11:40 am

I know this comment is late (catching up on blogs since vacation :) )

BUT wanted to share that I read Dr. Esselstyn’s book HOW TO REVERSE AND PREVENT HEART DISEASE and made it my own personal choice and experiment to follow his guidelines – which not only are plant based, but cut out oils and fats – even healthy ones.

I haven’t experienced high cholesterol, but have my blood work done once a year for work/health insurance purposes. A year ago my cholesterol was 152 – healthy by all standards. Dr. E recommends keeping that number under 150 to never have heart disease. AFTER being on the diet for 3 months I had shed 10 lbs of fat and my cholesterol was 132.

Great book as a follow-up or added value to the movie.

[Reply]

Gabrielle     at 11:52 am

“Forks Over Knives” finally opened in my city of Atlanta, last week, and I’m headed out to see it later this afternoon – can’t wait!

I became a vegetarian in 2006 and vegan in 2008, and there is no looking back. I also try not to judge, but to educate as much as possible, as I realize that most people simply do not know much about the origins of the foods they eat. Often they do not want to know, but then there are those who are open to learning, and making adjustments based on what they’ve learned.

Education and learning are key, as knowledge is a powerful thing, and our food choices, while they are choices, affect our own health, the health of our planet, and most of all, the animals.

[Reply]

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