Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health

| July 19, 2012 | 3 Comments

Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health

What if one simple change could save you from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer? For decades, that question has fascinated a small circle of impassioned doctors and researchers—and now, their life-changing research is making headlines in the hit documentary Forks Over Knives.

Their answer? Eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet—it could save your life. It may overturn most of the diet advice you’ve heard—but the experts behind Forks Over Knives aren’t afraid to make waves. In

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  1. NYVegan says:
    598 of 628 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A mix of science and recipes to help people help themselves, July 8, 2011
    By 
    NYVegan

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health (Paperback)

    The book “Forks Over Knives” does a wonderful job of performing two disparate tasks:
    It provides concise explanations of why a whole-foods, plant-based diet is healthiest for people, the planet, and the animals, and
    It offers a wide range of amazing recipes to help people get started.

    The editor pairs these tasks to perform one goal: to help people live healthier lives through their food choices.

    The book does this in three parts: (i) why a plant-based diet is best for your health, the planet, and the animals (37 pages); (ii) basic facts on plant-based foods (19 pages), and (iii) recipes (133 pages). While the bulk of the book is for recipes, there is a lot of powerful information in the first two parts that has appeal for anyone from the newcomer to the most informed, with topics as diverse as the environmental impact of food choices to nutrition labels. Even after having read literally dozens of books on plant-based foods and having finished Campbell’s eCornell course in plant-based nutrition, I became more informed after reading the first two parts. The third part is filled with tempting recipes from some of the top plant-based chefs who refuse to compromise on health to sell meals.

    The writing style is, for lack of a better word, “comfortable”. You can almost imagine yourself having a casual discussion with 11 experts on healthy eating, with insights that would surprise your general practitioner, but with language suitable for the layperson.

    My only qualms with the book are with the image quality of the graphs and people, which are technically disappointing, although still discernable, and with the arrangement of the bios, which seems out of order with their contributions.

    As a result of the dual tasks, some of the Amazon reviewers were negative. I’ve summarized them here, along with some counterpoints:

    Claim: The educational part of the book was too concise and contained bios

    If you are interested only in Dr. Esselstyn’s work, try Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure. For more on Campbell’s work, turn to The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health. For the impact of our food choices on the environment or animals, there are hundreds of books that describe the effects in chilling detail. This book is not the most comprehensive, authoritative guide on any one of those subjects, but it is a very readable and compelling guide on what is arguably the most important topic for most readers: healthy eating. And it holds something for every nutritionist I’ve ever met, as well as for the overweight Wal-Mart shopper whose cart is filled with chips and soda, or laboratory-manufactured foods from aisle 17. I have yet to find a book that does a better job of balancing the tasks of enlightening readers and facilitating changes in diet.

    The book does offer bios on the people who are trying to help us live more healthy lives. At first, I thought that this was a bit too much of a stretch for an already ambitious book…if I read a book on yoga, I’m not necessarily interested in the backgrounds of the leading proponents of yoga. But here I think the bios are justified because they offer a much needed perspective. The bio on T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., explains how he grew up on a dairy farm and was preparing to continue working with animal-based foods, how he discovered that animal protein was a problem rather than a solution to health woes, and then how certain factions in the food industry tried to smear him to stop him from sharing his findings. Dr. Neal Barnard found that the ribs on his cafeteria tray looked and smelled eerily similar to the ribs he had just examined from a human cadaver, which led him to think differently about food. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn tells of how he saved cardiovascular patients who had been told to “go home and prepare for death”. I know of dozens of people with cardiovascular problems and one person who was also told to give up hope, so this latter bio may serve as a wakeup call where all else has failed. Collectively, these bios show how the leaders in the field came to the same conclusions from different perspectives, in spite of the traditional food and health industry pressures and tactics.

    Claim: The book offered nothing that couldn’t be found on the Internet.

    I’ve been a student of plant-based nutrition for 10 years and I’ve read everything I can on the topic, yet I found pieces here I’d…

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  2. goodfoodie says:
    133 of 141 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A handbook for health, July 13, 2011
    By 

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health (Paperback)

    This book is a valuable companion to the film “Forks Over Knives”. In a concise and accessible style the book makes the case, as did the film, for the profound effect a change to a whole foods, plant-based diet can have for our personal health, the health of the planet and for the lives of our fellow animals.

    While the book does lay out the compelling “why’s” of a whole foods, plant-based diet, it really shines as a guide to the “how’s” of actually transitioning to an optimal way of eating. Even for experienced plant-based eaters with shelves of vegan cookbooks, it is a wonderful resource to have so many truly healthy no-oil, whole food recipes from several chefs with a variety of cuilinary styles. My teenage daughter and I have already made a few of the recipes – all have turned out really well and are definitely dishes we will make again.

    I see this book as a handbook for turning knowledge into action – for taking charge of your own health by adopting a simple, satisfying and delicious way of eating that can be life-changing and even life-saving.

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  3. California girl says:
    156 of 168 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Godsend, August 7, 2011
    By 

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health (Paperback)

    The information in this book can save your life. I’ve been trying to get my cholesterol down for years and in three months of 75% Forks Over Knives recommendations, my cholesterol dropped 51 points and is now in the normal range. Flat AMAZING. Made me a believer.

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