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Forks over Knives

by Fred Hahn on May 11, 2011

Forks over Knives is on its way to a theater near you. The creators claim that a meat based diet will kill you and a plant based diet will save your life.

Here we go again.

OK. We all know that eating carrots is better than eating Cheetos. We all know that chomping on fruit is better than chomping on Froot Loops.

But does broccoli pack more of a nutritional punch than grass-fed beef? Do leeks contain more vitamins and minerals than lamb? Is there any scientific evidence whatsoever to support the idea that a non-processed food, animal-based diet is unhealthy or that a plant-based diet is healthier than a meat-based diet for human beings? I can tell you from extensive reading on the subject and from being a once-upon-a-time, low fat, no fat, grain-eating dude that the idea is absolutely false. There isn’t a shred of evidence to support the claim.

Now, am I going to support my statement with peer reviewed, scientific evidence? Well, I could but I don’t actually have to. The burden of proof lies upon the claimant and the Forks over Knives claim is:

…most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.

The idea that processed foods contribute to or cause western diseases I’m fine with (but still – is there any good science to prove this?). But animal-based foods? To this I say to them “prove it.” And try as they might, they won’t be able to because there isn’t any research to support the claim.

But what you all must remember – please try to remember when watching the trailer and eventually the film itself – is that expert opinion does not fact make. Not even if it’s a doctor. The film makers must present peer-reviewed scientific research to support their contentions, not epidemiological surveys, observational studies or anecdotal, opinion-based opinions.

Not only this, lumping animal-based foods together with processed foods is disingenuous and smacks of serious agenda-ness. Are we really supposed to believe that eating a fresh water trout is the same as eating a Nabisco Triscuit?

Question – if not fish, what should dolphins eat? If not herbivores, what should lions eat? And what should frogs eat? Snakes? Spiders? Should we toss little kernels of corn into their little webs to save their little lives?

What these veggie-folks don’t see is that by adopting a plant based diet you, by default, reject a fake-food diet and this alone – the rejection of processed foods – is enough to reverse most western diseases. It’s not the intake of the plant matter that does the trick. It’s the cessation of the intake of garbage foods that enhances health. Capeesh? (For some people, I feel as if I need to say this fourteen different ways to let this really sink in.)

The vegetarian psyche is fraught with pseudo-science and all too often, unnecessary violence as Lierre Keith knows all too well. Her book The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainabilityis a book that everyone should read prior to seeing this movie.

Forewarned is forearmed.

You’re welcome. Your thoughts?

I've been involved in exercise ever since I became a member of The Charles Atlas Club when I was 10 years old. In 1998, I founded and established Serious Strength on the Upper West Side of NYC. My clients include kids, seniors (and everyone in between), top CEOs, celebrities, bestselling authors, journalists and TV personalities.
my book. my Gym.

in Current Affairs,Health/Fitness,Nutrition · 22 comments

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carnivore, herbivore, diet, food, veganism, vegan, health,
April 28, 2012 at 8:06 AM

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

gharkness May 12, 2011 at 8:59 AM

Yeah, I have thoughts. (Am at a conference this morning, so I haven’t actually looked at the video yet – but I will). So my thoughts are on the general topic in nature.

The problem is that fools don’t stop being foolish easily. So the China Study and others like it will continue to be cited as accepted “proof,” despite that Denise Minger thoroughly took it apart. Other “studies,” other headlines. They aren’t going to go down quickly or easily….but every shot aimed in the right direction is a help. We all need to get out the big guns and go after them! The health of our nation is in the balance (though I think it’s too late for the oldsters…”

Fred Hahn May 12, 2011 at 9:15 AM

Right Georgene. Now the question is, if all you eat is plants and little if any meat, will you be contributing to the health crisis? That’s a lot of sugar to be eating all day long, day after day, week after week. I’d be interested in knowing if there is any long term research on the health of vegetarians/vegans.

Audley May 12, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Although not totally in tune with low carbers, this article excerpt from Outside Magazine on World Class tri-athlete Mark Allen shows an endurance athlete can leave the vegetarian lifestyle, add some protein to his diet and prosper.
http://outsideonline.com/outside/magazine/0297/9702fenut.html

Seán May 12, 2011 at 12:14 PM

There may be a bit of stereotyping on both sides, but this looks to me like vegan propaganda. Hopefully they’ll see through the Madison Avenue marketing. Most people would admit that we ate primarily meat in the past, but because of our sedentary lifestyle and evolution we are not longer fit for it. I think that is a bunch of bunk. I think there is a lot of disinformation out there, and the vegan folks are jumping on their opportunity to capitalize. I agree with your second to the last paragraph. This is probably a big contributor, Generally such people get very attracted to similar movements like organic, raw food, supplements, exercise of some type, etc. The store where we buy our raw milk has many of these granola types. You’d think you have to be into eastern religion too to understand. I think the whole food movement can do a lot for people’s health, even if they went veggie, but I think the optimal diet for humans includes plenty of good ol’ meat.

Dana May 13, 2011 at 4:28 PM

We may leave chronic diseases of civilization behind by going vegan (and I wonder about that–India supposedly has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world despite largely abstaining from meat), but that doesn’t mean we’ll leave the diseases of developing nations behind. I’m not sure I would want to trade in my metabolic disease for, say, beriberi or pernicious anemia.

It’s not enough to drop some of the agents of chronic disease. You have to also get the nutrients you need to stay healthy in other ways. Veganism cannot provide that–and the fun part is that the nutrients it deprives you of, can be stored in the body and therefore it takes longer for you to develop a deficiency disease from lack of them. B12 and preformed A are two examples of that.

Kathryn May 13, 2011 at 5:37 PM

Well, given that most people are eating factory farmed animals that are grain fed these days and fed antibiotics and who knows what, that stuff may very well contribute to a lot of illnesses.

Some of us have issues with eating animals. I am not saying that free-range, grass fed animals are not healthy to eat, just that i have issues with it. My hubby has no such issues, and i try to buy at least organic meats, preferably grass-fed for him. Even tho i choose to eat mostly vegetarian (still do some fish), i don’t tell people that meat is bad for them. I tell them that if they choose to eat meat, factory farmed animals are not healthy.

Personally, i have an issue in eating anything with a personality. I was raised on a farm where we had meat and dairy cows, goats, sheep, and horses. I like horses a lot, but i can tell you, the steers and sheep we raised for meat had every bit as much personality as the dogs and the horses.

Fred Hahn May 14, 2011 at 7:50 AM

Hi Kathryn – I hear you on this issue. Well, I don’t think eggs and fish have much in the way of personalities. And sometimes we humans can and do impose things upon other things a bit more than what reality might actually be. We were “designed” to eat animal flesh and we really can’t be healthy and robust without it.

DC August 31, 2011 at 6:12 AM

I just saw the film and wanted to find some differing opinions online – stumbled upon your post. I appreciate the opinions expressed and especially the comments here. I would point out that one of the studies showed that a diet with 5% meat protein was healthy. The film then veers into total vegan promotion after that, but the study is in there.

Fred Hahn August 31, 2011 at 9:18 AM

Hi DC – I want to see the movie. I know that it is total vegan propaganda. I wonder how they explain the fact that prior to agriculture, most humans ate primarily animal matter. Perhaps they are creationists and think that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.

Sara Burch February 14, 2012 at 7:01 PM

Having just recently watched this, I found it definitely interesting, though somewhat one-sided. I agree with a lot of what was proposed in the movie, having done a copious amount of research for different papers the past few years.
And as much I as love the idea of a mostly vegetarian or even vegan diet, I don’t feel cutting out meats completely is “natural”. As Fred Hahn above posted, our ancestors have since consumed meat products as a main staple in their diet.
I do, though, like small amount of information provided about cow’s milk and it being poorer for humans than advertisement leads the general public to believe. If you have any interest in it, I suggest (if you have not already done so) to seek out medical journals online and read about cow’s milk and its poor quality (contrary to what almost everyone believes.)

Bonnie Kaake April 9, 2012 at 6:48 PM

I know it is difficult to believe that a vegan diet could have such profound significance as demonstrated in the documentary “Forks Over Knives” as well as the most comprehensive research study on nutrition every done and documented in the book “The China Study”. It is especially difficult for body builders to accept. Unfortunately, although the outsides of body-builders’ bodies look great, the fact is that the majority use steroids to look that way and eat excessive amounts of protein. Many will deny it but when testing is done, the facts speak volumes. Also, you will find that many have very elevated levels of creatinine in their systems as a result of excessive animal based proteins. The extreme health risks associated with steroids (cystic degeneration of the liver, anemia, renal insufficiency, impotence, disfunction of the pituitary gland, acne, and psychological problems) and elevated creatinine levels (kidney disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, & glomerulonephritis) are well known and documented. Just because a body looks good, does not mean it is healthy.

Fred Hahn April 10, 2012 at 9:30 AM

I agree with you WRT anabolic steroids. It appears that these agents can be very harmful in the long run.

Forks over knives grossly misrepresents the reality of vegan/meat based diets and completely ignores the science on the subject.

We have evolved to eat animal products. They are healthy for us. It’s the type and the way the food is formulated that matters.

Khaled Ziyaeen April 28, 2012 at 12:47 AM

Mr. Fred Hahn, please speak based on facts. The only argument I’ve heard from you is that eating meat has been a staple part of human beings’ diet. Not enough.

As human beings evolve, so does science and technology. You should listen to the scientific data. And if you really believe in evolution, let me point out 2 things for you. First, amongst all the animals on earth, the ones with teeth patterns similar to ours are herbivores. Second, any carnivorous animal has a digestive tract which is at MOST 3 times it’s bodies’ length. Human beings’ digestive tract is almost 12 times his height. The meat is quickly processed, then begins to rot in our bodies.

Regarding vegan diets, you only manage to say that it doesn’t provide enough protein and lacks a few other nutrients. Do you have any proof of its’ ill-affects? I’d like to see some. And btw, is it possible for human beings to live on an exclusively animal-based diet. No! But is it possible for human beings to live on an exclusively plant-based diet. Hell yes!

One final point: While it’s true that for several thousands of years human beings’ ate meat, it doesn’t prove that it’s optimal. You see, in those years, getting enough plant-based foods was not easy. The diet was based on whatever you could find around you. But today, you can find absolutely any vegetable and fruit you like. Times have changed, Fred.

Khaled.

fred hahn April 28, 2012 at 7:31 AM

“Mr. Fred Hahn, please speak based on facts. The only argument I’ve heard from you is that eating meat has been a staple part of human beings’ diet. Not enough.”

****Not enough for what Khaled? Science has shown conclusively that animal matter has been a part of the human diet since the paleolithic era Khaled. It is how we grew larger brains and eventually became the dominant ape on the planet.

“As human beings evolve, so does science and technology. You should listen to the scientific data. And if you really believe in evolution, let me point out 2 things for you.”

***I don’t *believe* in evolution. Evolution is a proven fact. HOW we evolved exactly is debated, but we, like every other living thing on the planet has and continues to evolve.

“First, amongst all the animals on earth, the ones with teeth patterns similar to ours are herbivores.”

***This is patently false.

http://www.brianpeskin.com/BP.com/elements/herbivorecarnivorechart.jpg

“Second, any carnivorous animal has a digestive tract which is at MOST 3 times it’s bodies’ length. Human beings’ digestive tract is almost 12 times his height. The meat is quickly processed, then begins to rot in our bodies.”

****This too is patently false. And we are omnivores btw. Where do you come up with this info? There is something called Google you know. The main problem is not so much the length of the colon but the type of digestive process. Our bacterial flora, like other meat eaters is putrefactive. The herbivore is fermentative.

“Regarding vegan diets, you only manage to say that it doesn’t provide enough protein and lacks a few other nutrients. Do you have any proof of its’ ill-affects?”

***Vegan diets lack, among other things, iron, B12 and adequate amino acids and in the right ratio. This is more than enough evidence to show you it is deficient and therefore will cause ill-effects unless you supplement. If you get hit by a car at 80 miles an hour you WILL be injured. I don’t need any more evidence than that.

“I’d like to see some.”

****Go to your local GP and ask them to tell you how their pure vegan patients fare specifically, the ones that do not supplement with vitamins D, B12, selenium or iron (oh right, they’d be the dead ones). Ask them specifically if they see trend in them towards anemia and high blood glucose. But careful! The answer might surprise you.

“And btw, is it possible for human beings to live on an exclusively animal-based diet. No! But is it possible for human beings to live on an exclusively plant-based diet. Hell yes!”

****You have it exactly opposite. Ever heard of the Inuit? The Masai? Name me ONE culture, past or present that lives/lived exclusively on plant matter (meaning, no bugs, shellfish, or supplements).

“One final point: While it’s true that for several thousands of years human beings’ ate meat, it doesn’t prove that it’s optimal. You see, in those years, getting enough plant-based foods was not easy. The diet was based on whatever you could find around you. But today, you can find absolutely any vegetable and fruit you like. Times have changed, Fred.”

****Indeed times have changed. We now experience more disease, obesity, diabetes, etc. than ever before. As our country had decreased its fat consumption and increased its carbohydrate consumption, we have become a nation of obese diabetics riddled with heart disease and cancer. All of which were absent PRIOR to the advent of agriculture.

All that said, realize that eating plants is perfectly fine. Plant matter can provide some nutrients. But edible plant matter is only available at certain times of the year and certainly not everything that is plant matter is edible to us very much UNLIKE an herbivore. Deer, goats, sheep can eat a huge variety of forest matter. Cows, horses, etc. eat grass all day long and live well.

Since YOU say you are an herbivore and seem to suggest humans will thrive eating as one, I’d like to see you eat ONLY grass, pine needles, fruit tree leaves, sapling bark, etc., and after say 6 months, see what your health status is. If you’re right, you should be the picture of robust human health. If I’m right, you’ll be in the hospital in 6 hours.

johnny April 28, 2012 at 3:54 PM

After reading all the obtuse justifications presented by vegetarians to promote their diet, I’ve come to the conclusion that the vegetarian diet impairs the brain’s ability to process logical arguments.

Fred Hahn April 28, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Agreed Johnny. Ever try having a coherent conversation with a ruminant?

romulus October 23, 2012 at 5:11 PM

when you gonna get ride of insomnia,plantar fasciitus and depresia eating meat then you can tell somebodyelse what to eat….you are fat and not healthy….you are a bad example…..you better eat your hot dog and wait for a radiation therapy….good luck and get lost

romulus October 23, 2012 at 5:15 PM

and humans were eating meat first…..hmmmm…where did they get weapons?????????or maybe you can jump on a deer and start to kill her with your teeth???????and your sharp nails…..you are an idiot….we were fruitarians……period……

romulus October 23, 2012 at 5:17 PM

ceo s….aha now i got it…..take care of these mother fukers…..and leave us alone….go get some education before you start to spred shi…t

romulus October 23, 2012 at 5:23 PM

we have evolved eating meat??????????are you retarded????ask gandhi how much meat helped him to so smirt??????idiot……oooau you are complet retarded….and i use to eat a lot of meat….i was very muscular but i damaged my heath with too much protein…..i am cured now with diet and water fasting…..you can promote this idiotic message ”eat meat and you gonna get evolved” in usa…yeah this country is full of idiots like you

Fred Hahn October 23, 2012 at 6:26 PM

Romulus,

Considering your use of grammar, your spelling and the coherency of your comments, I would refrain from calling other people “idiots.”

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