Pass the veggies, please.

I recently watched the documentary, “Forks Over Knives.”
The premise for the documentary:

“What has happened to us?  Despite the most advanced medical technology in the world, we are sicker than ever by nearly every measure.  Two out of every three of us are overweight.  Cases of diabetes are exploding, especially amongst our younger population.  About half of us are taking at least one prescription drug.  Major medical operations have become routine, helping to drive health care costs to astronomical levels.  Heart disease, cancer and stroke are the country’s three leading causes of death, even though billions are spent each year to ‘battle’ these very conditions.  Millions suffer from a host of other degenerative diseases.  Could it be there’s a single solution to all of these problems?  A solution so comprehensive, but so straightforward, that it’s mind-boggling that more of us haven’t taken it seriously?”

Fruits-and-Vegetables“Forks Over Knives” makes the argument that most – if not all – of what makes us “sicker than ever” can be addressed (and in some cases reversed!) by cutting out our menu of animal-based and processed foods.  The researchers (two doctors: Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn) featured in the film call for a plant-based diet.

Now, hold up.  Plant-based?  That sounds super strict right?

What about my juicy grilled steak?  What about having goat cheese on my salad?
A “plant-based diet” would say to replace the steak with grilled eggplant and the goat cheese with some kind of legume.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m totally for plant-based foods.  I just don’t know if I can commit solely to plants just yet…

But despite my inability to instantly implement a plant-based diet…I can’t stop thinking about what was presented in this documentary.

Since watching it, I’ve changed my intake.  It’s caused me to stop and ask questions like:

“Do I really need that much cream in my coffee?”  (yes, yes I do)

“Do I really need to eat some sort of meat for dinner five nights a week?  (no, no I don’t)

“Forks Over Knives”  was powerful for me to watch because of two primary reasons:
1) my family history, and
2) my current context.
My family has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure, so unless I want to be a part of the family-history-sickness-legacy, I need to take my health seriously.  And change the patterns.
My current context is working as a Chaplain in a hospital, where I see the effects of how we treat our bodies on a daily basis.  Not a day goes by that I don’t encounter sickness and death caused by poor health choices.

So…pass the veggies, please.  And keep ’em coming.  If plant-based foods can help reverse the patterns of health our country is facing, then sign me up.  I’ll try my best to keep the cupcakes and hotdogs to a minimum (really, I will!).

I invite you to journey with me in this conversation.  Let me know your immediate feedback, or watch the film – it’s on Netflix – and let me know if you agree/disagree.  See you in the comments section!

10 replies
  1. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    Annie I love that you have brought up this topic. One of the most important things we can do is be aware of what we are eating, and where it comes from. We are very fortunate to live in an area like Seattle. We have minimally processed food in front of us coming from places like farmers markets, Whole Foods, and PCC.

    • Annie Duncan
      Annie Duncan says:

      Awareness is definitely key! And yes, it is wonderful to live in an area that takes this awareness seriously. It also makes me wonder about the people that can’t afford lesser processed foods…which makes me grateful for a lot of local farmer’s markets that are now taking the EBT/SNAP as forms of payment. Very cool.

  2. Sami Dyer
    Sami Dyer says:

    Oooooh, great topic! The statistics are scary true; every two out of three of us are overweight, billions of dollars are spent each year trying to battle these conditions, diabetes is at it’s peak. Maintaining a nutritious diet is somewhat easy if you be sure to eat your fruits and vegetables, cut back on chips and candy, more chicken vs. red meat. However, for millions of Americans it’s much cheaper to buy a pack of hot dogs for your family over a salmon and asparagus dinner. It’s a controversial topic for sure but I strongly believe that these health problems can be prevented early on in life if you maintain a balanced diet! Exercise is equally as crucial, but that’s a whole other topic ;) thanks for sharing, Annie!

    • Annie Duncan
      Annie Duncan says:

      I’m glad you brought that up, Sami…it is an injustice that overly processed foods are cheaper…which is one of the root causes of this dilemma. And I agree with you – exercise has to be part of the balance. My friend, who is a trainer, said you can eat yourself out of a workout if you’re not careful (what she meant, is, if you don’t watch what you eat…the 6 mile run you just did won’t matter!).

    • Annie Duncan
      Annie Duncan says:

      There are a lot of additional issues that promote a plant-based diet, and I appreciate you passing on this resource from Bill Gates. Have you heard of the product “Beyond Meat”?
      I’ve been looking for it in local stores, but have yet to find it in Redmond.

  3. Dan Vache
    Dan Vache says:

    Great conversation – all things in moderation! Start with bringing a fresh fruit and/or vegetable snack to work everyday for the mid-morning or afternoon pick me up! even better – bring some to share with your co-workers. :)
    Check this out –
    It is not difficult to eat healthy!
    And you do not need to shop at TJ’s, PCC or Wholefoods for your organic food. Note most all grocery retail stores carry a large selection of organic produce if that is your choice. In fact WalMart, COSTCO, Safeway, all Kroger Banners (Fred Meyer and QFC locally), Albertsons and others are driving huge volumes of organic F&V. You will see the prices become comparable to conventional grown produce in the not to distant future.

    Food Trend Note:
    Organic growth not over yet! Sales of organic products in the U.S.A. jumped to $35.1 Billion in 2013, up 11.5%!!! “The organic market is experiencing strong expansion with organic food and farming continuing to gain in popularity. Consumer are making the correlation between what we eat and our health, and that knowledge is spurring heightened consumer interest in organic products.” Source: R.F.F.; 24:7, July 2014, p.6.

    Please ask your organic farmers market vendors for their current organic certification and if they actually grow the product. You would be surprised how much is not actually certified organic or even “local”.

    Since most of us are members of thinkspace have you noticed the amount of pure junk food in the Evergreen Vending machines – snacks and drinks? Most public schools have removed soda and candy selections from their vending options and even gave up (kicking and screaming) five figure “donations’ from the soda companies due to public pressure.

    • Annie Duncan
      Annie Duncan says:

      Dan – you are an amazing resource!! Thanks for that link – I love the idea of filling 1/2 my plate with produce :)
      And I agree with you – get rid of that junk in the vending machines. The more accessible healthier options are, the better. Junk food is too readily available and easily accessed…a push for healthier options to be readily available and just as easily accessed is definitely needed. I love the change in schools – why not have that change in the work places too?


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