Who: VN columnist Gena Hamshaw
What: A special, pre-release screening of Forks Over Knives
Where: AMC Loews on Broadway, New York, NY
When: December 6, 2010
The Scoop: On Monday night, animal lovers, environmentalists, health enthusiasts, and foodies gathered together for a screening of filmmaker Brian Wendel’s Forks Over Knives. The documentary, which will be released nationwide on March 11, 2011, examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the so-called “diseases of affluence” can be controlled or reversed by adopting a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Told through the lives and work of Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn—who have championed the power of plant-based foods throughout their careers in medicine—the film also documents the remarkable healing stories of their patients.
Notable supporters of Farm Sanctuary and of the film—including vegan authors John Joseph and Victoria Moran—gathered for a pre-party reception, where they sampled cuisine from New York culinary institution, Candle 79. The owners of Candle 79, Bart Potenza and Joy Pierson, were hard at work in the kitchen, churning out plate after plate of piping hot seitan chimichurris, bowls of tangy guacamole, and platters of an irresistibly flavorful hummus and quinoa terrine.
Meanwhile, veteran vegan pastry chef Fran Costigan astonished partygoers with her desserts. (I had to fight a few other guests for the last PB&J chocolate cup parfait, but it was worth it.) Farm Sanctuary co-founder Gene Baur shared a few salutary words. “Most people are basically compassionate,” he said. But he added that we need films like Forks Over Knives to inspire positive change.
After the film, audience members were given a chance to ask questions and chat with the filmmakers and participants. On the panel discussion after the film were Baur, Brian Wendel, and Rip Esselstyn, author of the bestselling The Engine 2 Diet, who is profiled in the documentary. Before leaving, I approached Brian Wendel, whose own life was changed by reading The China Study in 2008, to congratulate him. His face lit up when I mentioned that I was there on behalf of VegNews. “They have been so supportive,” he said. “We’re all very excited.”