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Forks over Knives

Forks Over Knives
File:Forks Over Knives movie poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lee Fulkerson
Produced by John Corry
Brian Wendel
Written by Lee Fulkerson
Starring T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D
Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D.
John A. McDougall, M.D.
Neal D. Barnard, M.D.
Rip Esselstyn
Music by Ramón Balcázar
Edited by John Orfanopoulos
Brian Crance
Michael Fahey
Monica Beach Media
Distributed by Virgil Films and Entertainment
Release dates
  • May 6, 2011 (2011-05-06)
Running time
96 minutes
Country 23x15px United States
Language English

Forks Over Knives is a 2011 American documentary film directed by American independent filmmaker Lee Fulkerson that advocates a low-fat whole-food, plant-based diet as a means of combating a number of diseases. The film was created and executive produced by Brian Wendel and produced by John Corry. The DVD of Forks Over Knives was released on August 30, 2011.[1]


Through an examination of the careers of American physician Caldwell Esselstyn and professor of nutritional biochemistry T. Colin Campbell, Forks Over Knives suggests that "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." [2] It also provides an overview of the 20-year China–Cornell–Oxford Project that led to Professor Campbell's findings, outlined in his book, The China Study (2005) in which he suggests that coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer can be linked to the Western diet of processed and animal-based foods (including all dairy products).[2]

With regard to describing the nutritional approach as a "whole foods plant-based" rather than "vegan" one in the film, director Lee Fulkerson, in an interview with Canada's National Post, said, "Veganism just means anything that doesn’t have animal-based products in it. But you can still eat highly processed foods that are vegan," citing potato chips and french fries as examples. "You want to use minimally processed things.”[3]




Won Documentary/Special Interest Title of the Year - 2012 Entertainment Merchants Association’s Independent Home Entertainment Awards [4]

Critical response

As of 10 February 2015, on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Forks Over Knives received a rating of 61% (23 Fresh, 15 Rotten), based upon 38 reviews.[5] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 57 out of 100, based on 18 reviews, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.[6]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four stars and wrote: "here is a film that could save your life." He also suggests that "Forks Over Knives is not subtle. It plays as if it had been made for doctors to see in medical school."[7] Loren King of The Boston Globe gave the film three out of four stars and suggests that, "what An Inconvenient Truth did for global warming, Lee Fulkerson's persuasive documentary does for a vegan diet".[8] Carrie Rickey of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film three out of four stars and describes it as "an earnest and fact-filled work of food evangelism." [9]

Sean O'Connell of The Washington Post gave the film two out of four stars and argues that it is "an interesting and informative health lecture that's sandwiched into a dry, repetitive documentary" and said that "it's desperately in need of charisma, humor or personality to balance the steady stream of scientific facts we’re asked to absorb".[10] Rex Reed of The New York Observer gave the film 2/4 and argues that "I’m sure there is much to be learned from Forks Over Knives (the title means a healthy diet should be consumed with a fork rather than diverging from this path, which could lead to the knife or scalpel)."[11] Corey Hall of the Metro Times gave the film a "C" and states that "while it's impossible to dispute the basic premise that eating more vegetables is good for you, Forks adopts a staunch anti-meat and -dairy stance that leaves the door open for criticism."[12]

Scientific Criticisms

Numerous reviews of the science behind the movie have shown that conclusions drawn in the movie are not in line with standard statistical analysis practice. Harvard scientist Frank B Hu and Walter Willett state, "Campbell questioned the validity of our findings because they contradict the results of international correlation studies on animal product consumption and disease rates... Correlational studies conducted within a country can usually provide more credible data than international comparisons because of relatively homogeneous populations and the possibility of collecting data on potential confounding variables at individual levels. A survey of 65 counties in rural China, however, did not find a clear association between animal product consumption and risk of heart disease or major cancers."[13] Nor did a recent large and comprehensive epidemiological study done in the US looking at a very homogeneous population. While that study gives strong evidence to the virtues of reducing overall meat consumption, it does not support the stronger conclusions made in the film and in Campbell's book that urge reducing fat and eliminating all animal products. In particular, that study picks out as most healthful the pescatarian, not the vegan diet, although vegan men specifically had the lowest all-cause mortality, ischemic heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality rates.[14]


  • Alona Pulde M.D. and, Matthew Lederman M.D. The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet. 2014.
  • Sroufe, Del. Forks Over Knives–The Cookbook. 2012.
  • Stone, Gene. Forks Over Knives: The Plant Based Way to Health. 2011.


External links