World health, and more specifically American health, is in a terrible place to put it mildly. A lot of that, perhaps even the majority of it, has to do with all of the junk that we eat. When urban legends arise where morticians have reported that human bodies take longer to decompose after death because modern food contains so many preservatives, you have to admit people are worried about these issues. As such dietary change is advocated in an increasing number if documentaries – with Forks Over Knives, filmmaker Lee Fulkerson tries to convince his viewers, through testimonials and scientific information, that the junk-food-free, vegan option is better for you.
Based primarily on the lives’ work of scientists Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, the film is a basic information parade complete with real-life examples. Fulkerson explains and names all of the studies Campbell and Esselstyn have completed over the past years, and the work as well as the findings are as astounding as they are impressive. The audience is introduced to people whose lives have been completely changed for the better – one survived breast cancer, one had crippling heart problems, one had dangerous cholesterol, and then of course Fulkerson himself participates in a diet makeover. The only thing missing is vitality of personality; it isn’t as engaging as, say, Super Size Me, but then again it would be hard for anyone to match the joie de vivre of Morgan Spurlock.
I want to make it perfectly clear: I have no issue with advocacy-driven movies – but what I do have issue with is presenting theory as fact, demonizing the alternatives, and neglecting all other aspects of the discussion at hand. Is Forks Over Knives an engaging and compelling presentation of inspiring medical findings? Absolutely. In fact its conversational attitude makes the film accessible though never forgetting to be intelligent and sharp – extremely smart and still agreeable. But insinuating that a whole-foods vegan diet will cure any medical issue, even cancer, and that consuming animal product will lead to you imminent death. Veiling stubborn opinions under whatever disguise suits it best is sloppy information sharing – taking a page from Michael Moore’s playbook, standing proudly in the light of esotericism rather than faking it through omniscience, would have made this movie better…imagine how many more people would have been apt to come see this movie if “angry vegans” were somewhere in the tagline.