‘Forks Over Knives’ in Tacoma!

So remember that great little film that I raved about a bit back that focuses on all of the health benefits that can accompany a plant-based diet? At that time it was only showing in Seattle, but since then it’s come to the City of Destiny as a result of the hard work and dedication of a few residents who really wanted other Tacomans to have the chance to see it.

The Grand Cinema opened “Forks Over Knives” last Friday, and I attended that evening with a few friends, lots of members of the South Sound Vegan Meetup Group and others and we practically filled the theater. Like last time, I heard many audible reactions to the film and saw people clap at the end after coming to so many new realizations about their current or past diets and eating habits.

I’ve already reviewed the film so I won’t say much about it again here, but I do recommend that if you didn’t get out to see it while it played in Seattle (or even if you did!) that you see it this week with friends, family and loved ones. Really, take anyone you care about. You will be achieving a win-win by doing so: learning some things to possibly benefit your health in addition to supporting your local independent movie theater.

For full schedule through June 23 and show times, check out the Grand Cinema’s website here.

If you’ve seen the film, did anything you learn strike you as particularly surprising or interesting?

Forks Over Knives review, giveaway + vegan inspiration

Rooted in science, figures and replete with information gained from decades long health studies in various countries, “Forks Over Knives” isn’t a movie that people can argue with about facts. With interviews from T. Colin Campbell, Cornell University Nutrition professor and co-author of “The China Study,” Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, former surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and author of “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,” the film zeros in the work of these two men who believe that nutrition – not the next set of new and improved disease medications – is what can help rid America and other developing countries of their crippling diseases of affluence.

The fact that most American adults do not realize how awful their health is should come as no surprise to anyone. Most schools don’t require students to take nutrition courses to graduate, and medical schools require only one nutrition class (taken in the first year of doctorate programs) as part of their curriculum. With fast food restaurants on every corner, food deserts in many cities and neighborhoods and the educational aspect of what is actually necessary in the human diet being provided to the public by the USDA (a government organization funded by agricultural business subsidies), people are not only inundated daily by food they are told is delicious, they’re also told it’s healthy for them, too. This confusion leads to allowance for certain foods in the diet by adults and parents to their children. What can be done to change this vicious cycle of eating nutritionally-deficient food and the onset of rampant illnesses in us and in our loved ones?

The answer is repeated often and rings clearly in “Forks Over Knives”: diets that are composed of solely whole, plant-based foods and that are void of animal products.

Interspersed among Campbell’s and Esselstyn’s interviews are the stories of three very sick individuals, one with a list of 20-some ailments, ranging from shortness of breath, to fatigue to depression. Each, under the supervision and care of their doctors, take on the challenge of eating a vegan diet for months and each sees great improvements in their diseases and in their overall dispositions towards life. You may wonder, if we know all of this and some doctors are prescribing this form of treatment rather than medications and/or giving in to eventual death (as one doctor told an individual in the film to do as a result of her heart conditions), why don’t all doctors prescribe this alternative?

T. Colin Campbell (left) with Dr. Junshi Chen, Senior Research Professor at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing. Photo courtesy: “Forks Over Knives.”

It’s because agribusiness control the lobbyists in Washington, which give funding to universities where your doctors study. They also subsidize the USDA, which chooses which kinds of foods your kids and family eat and who decides what the food pyramid should be filled with.

This is one of many reasons why I urge you to see this film, take a friend, take your family, and basically anyone that you love and care about. Sometimes you can talk to a person until you’re blue in the face about health or ways that people can change habits for the better and it won’t sink in. But then there are other times watching films and hearing other individuals (especially scientists and doctors) affirm the same may get those people to listen again, and perhaps try a different approach. This is what I feel is going to be the end result for some watching “Forks Over Knives.”

For those who have not read the book “The China Study,” (in your defense, it is dense and quite mammoth, but still worth it), “Forks Over Knives” successfully compiles much of the information discussed in the book into a 90 minute, entertaining (while still remaining informative) documentary. In the theater, I saw people of all ages – 20 somethings like me, young kids and older adults – in attendance. I heard people audibly reacting to what they were seeing onscreen and what they were learning, which affirmed to me that it wasn’t all vegans in the audience, and that this screening wasn’t just preaching to the choir, so to speak. People stood up and clapped at the end, and I was honestly just feeling thankful that it was made in the first place.

You’ll notice that you don’t hear the word “vegan” being mentioned much in the movie, save for  UFC fighter Mac Danzig a couple of times. Upon further contemplation, this makes sense, as the film isn’t necessarily promoting an entire vegan lifestyle (no animal products in your toiletries, cleaning supplies, clothes, etc.), but rather simply a plant-based diet, which in the end still saves tons of lives. It was nice to see a bit about the going vegan for the animals aspect of veganism portrayed in the movie with an interview of Gene Baur, founder of Farm Sanctuary. While it was a very small portion of the film, having it be discussed was appreciated.

Conclusion: Though not all vegans transitioned to the lifestyle for health, doing so still does save so many animals from slaughter every year.  Plain, simple. It’s also important for people to learn that diet IS a viable, proven alternative to medicine, because most doctors, media and the government will not be knocking you over the head with this information anytime soon. It’s up to us to do the research and spread the word, and one of the simplest ways of doing this is by telling people you know and care about to see “Forks Over Knives.”

For those who are local, I have an opportunity for you to see the film with a friend for free this Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Varsity Theater in Seattle.

A friend and animal rights/vegan activist Jennifer very generously donated a pair of tickets to be given away on the blog, and to win them you simply have to:

Leave a comment telling me why you want to see “Forks Over Knives.” That’s it, pretty simple, huh?

Note: As with all of my contests (and thus this will be the last time I mention it!) you do not have to be vegan to enter! But you do have to be local-ish as these tickets are specifically for the Varsity in the U District in Seattle.

This contest has a bit faster of a turnaround and you can enter until 9 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, May 18, and I’ll pick a winner at random and announce it at that time. Good luck, and I hope that even if you don’t win, you get out and see “Forks Over Knives” soon.

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And now I’ll leave you all with something that my friend Joy shared on Facebook, and that I’ve since watched and fell in love with. Marielle the Vegan Superstar is a spritely Canadian 8-year-old who decided early in her young life that she was going to adopt a vegan lifestyle. For being so young, she’s already clearly incredibly passionate and knowledgeable on the  diet, health and animal rights implications of adopting this way of life. She has four short “plays” on YouTube, but this was my favorite. Enjoy!

Update 5/18, 9:15 p.m.: And the randomly generated winner of the Forks Over Knives giveaway is…#1, Joy! Congrats, Joy! Thanks so much for entering. I’ll contact you to let you know that you’ve won. Enjoy the film and I hope your dad appreciates it!

Highlights from the Tacoma Vegan Bake Sale + Forks Over Knives

On May 1, the long-awaited Tacoma Vegan Bake Sale Benefiting Precious Life Sanctuary as a part of Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale took place at King’s Books. The event was a great time and a success as we ended up raising a total of $610 for the sanctuary! I recently volunteered there, so I know some animals who will definitely be benefiting from the generosity and kindness of all who made the event possible.

Beforehand, we planners (Joy, Lisa and myself) didn’t know what to expect, as Tacoma hasn’t had a previous vegan bake sale (that I’m aware of) and because we’d never done anything like this before. But so many people came in, bought bags of cookies, dropped off donations and were generally really happy that something like this WAS happening in Tacoma, which was one of the best things we heard all day.

The photos will speak for the event more than I can, so here they are. (All photos courtesy of very talented local photographer Roxanne Cooke, [zoomed images of baked goods] and co-planner/Tacoma Animal Rights Book Club Organizer Lisa Patton).

We had not one, but two literature tables! This was the second one, which had lots of "why vegan" info as well as fliers for upcoming events and a new Veg-Friendly Dining Out guide for Tacoma that Lisa made. We also highlighted some vegan titles available for purchase at King's Books and many of them sold. The first table had info about Precious Life Animal Sanctuary and an awesome video of photos and footage taken at the sanctuary by Dan, Joy's boyfriend.

Macaroons were hands down the most popular cookie choice for bakers and I think we had at least four varieties.

These were one of my contributions to the bake sale: Tomato Rosemary Scones from Isa Chandra Moskowitz' Vegan Brunch.

Co-planner Joy offered up some paradise cookies and gorgeous mini strawberry cheesecakes.

Other co-planner Lisa made a trio of cookies: Lazy Samoas from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, chocolate almond brittle and Raspberry Linzer Torte cookies (also from Isa/Terry's cookie book).

Roxanne contributed a few things to the bake sale including regular and mini-sized cupcakes, and these tasty chocolate chip cookies.

Visitors perusing the offerings.

Victoria (far left) invited many members of her family and they came in waves to pick up baked goods and enjoy them in good company!

Last but not least, King's Books' mascot (well, one of the two) Miko at one point just laid back and got comfortable in the middle of the event. Bake sales are exhausting for cute kitties.

We started out with 6 tables filled baked goods and kept removing them until eventually we were down to just one. We had a few leftovers, boxed them up and Lisa took them to this week’s Tacoma Food Not Bombs feed yesterday. We all had such a great time and I really have to thank King’s Books for letting us hold the event there, and also just for being so supportive of all the vegan things that are starting to happen in Tacoma. More special thanks go to: all the bakers, volunteers, people who passed out fliers and spread the word electronically or otherwise and to everyone who stopped in and helped the cause. We felt like it went so well (and also got many people asking when more events like this would be happening here), that we’re definitely already starting to plan more for later in the year, so be on the lookout for info about those!

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As some of you may have heard or read about already, the new documentary film “Forks Over Knives” opens nationwide on Friday, May 6. The movie explores the rise and increasing number of degenerative illnesses that are slowly taking over the country. The reason the film truly resonates with the vegan community is that it ponders treating these life-threatening diseases not with surgery or pills, but with plant-based food. It also highlights the lives of Dr. T. Colin Campbell (ever heard of a little book called The China Study?) and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic), their dedication to research on curing disease with whole, raw foods and interviews with individuals who are doing just that and succeeding.

An early preview of the film is showing tonight in Seattle at the Landmark Metro, but it will show again on Monday, May 9 and Friday, May 13 at the Varsity Theatre in Seattle. Check out the film’s website for times and exact locations and for those nearest you. I recommend carpooling and getting friends and family together to attend the screenings. It looks to be an inspiring and influential film, and I’ve heard nothing but great things from friends who’ve seen it already in other cities. Look for a review of it after I see it next week.

Next post: first giveaway and blog interview!