Friday, March 5, 2010

How Many Voices Does It Take?

I learned this morning about another new documentary film due to be released this coming summer: Forks Over Knives. The unclear title notwithstanding, this promises to be one of the best of the recent spate of documentaries dealing with America's health crisis from a plant-based (vegan) perspective, for one simple reason: It chronicles the life and work of two of the pillars of this movement, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. T. Colin Campbell.

I've mentioned both these men frequently in this blog. I like them because they are "elders"—white-haired scholars who have spent their lives in the pursuit of health, and independently came to the same conclusion: The modern, chronic diseases that are taking lives and bankrupting America can be easily prevented by people eating a whole-food, plant-based diet. In other words, by being vegan. Esselstyn spent his medical career at The Cleveland Clinic and Campbell is an emeritus professor at Cornell University and head of the famed China Study, the longest and largest study in history on the relationship between diet and health.

I have never felt more sorry for anyone than I did for the four puppet/pawn physicians, in their white lab coats, who stood behind president Obama this week on a stage at the White House in support of the president's up-or-down mandate to the Congress on healthcare. I don't know who these doctors are, but they looked like people who would sell their soul for 15 minutes of fame—being invited to the White House! Being photographed with the President! Appearing on national TV! I wonder if people like this have no shame. Government, nor doctors, never cured anyone of anything. The arrogance displayed at the levels of government and the AMA, believing that money and policy are the keys to health, is just stunning.

Contrast the doctors on the stage at the White House with men like Esselstyn and Cambell, whose science and evidence points to the body's natural healing abilities if we only give the body the nutrients it needs and stop feeding it things that promote disease. Their solution is humble, affordable, and simple. One wonders how many voices it takes for this message to be embraced.

I also admire both these men because they are not afraid to take our government and medical institutions to task—pointing fingers clearly at those who place a greater priority on "maintaining the status quo" than they do on human health. (Dr. Esselstyn likes to point out that the famed Cleveland Clinic (where he practices) has, or at least had—I don't know if it's still there—a MacDonald's in the clinic's lobby to serve patrons!) Government and "the AMA" are so in bed with industries that promote ill-health and disease (meat, dairy, agribusiness, conventional farming, Big Pharma) that their hands are tied. To call them out would be to cut off the hands that feed them. There simply is no integrity in the systems that prolong the status quo. On the other hand, both Dr. Esselstyn and Campbell immediately jettisoned their animal-farming heritage and animal-based diets when their professional studies confronted them with evidence to the contrary. That's integrity—willingness to say "I was wrong and I'm going to change."

At this point, I can't say Forks Over Knives is going to be great since I've only seen the trailer. But if it accurately portrays the work of Esselstyn and Campbell (and others), it will be great—indeed, revolutionary.

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