Shortly after going vegan in 2013, I definitely went through a phase of intense anger. I was angry that I had been lied to my entire life about how animals were treated on “farms” and I was angry with the healthcare system for not informing me of the health risks of meat and dairy sooner. What most angered me (and still does) was that I had to find out all of this on my own. If I hadn’t met a vegan who challenged me to question what I’d been previously told on these matters, I’d probably still be an ill-informed and unhealthy person, trying another fad diet, still falling for the “humane” labels on meat products and blindly taking whatever my doctor prescribed.
Since then I have come to realize two difficult truths:
- Doctors are not nutritionists. For all their hard work, years of education, knowledge and skill, what they actually know of food and it’s link to our health is miniscule – they are just not taught nutrition in med school. They are trained to treat our health through tests, surgery and pills, not diet.
- If you want to find out about how meat and dairy affects our long-term health or how animals really get to our plates, you are not going to find the answer – at least not in this present day – from the Top 40 news. You will likely have to find that out on your own, from films, books, grassroots movements and organizations or activists.
One of the first books I read after going vegan was Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s epic game-changer, The China Study. I’ve written about this book before and it remains a much-loved book for me, one that helped me to re-shape my life and my attitude towards food and nutrition. My copy is dog-eared and filled with post-its and notations and I may have even hugged it once.
Dr. Campbell’s son, Nelson Campbell, directed a documentary in 2015 and it recently came out on Netflix Canada so I checked it out. It’s called PlantPure Nation and it’s like Forks Over Knives meets House of Cards. With the momentum of a research presentation Dr. Campbell gave in 2011 along with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn on the benefits of a plant-based, whole food diet to the State of Kentucky legislature, “Representative Tom Riner introduced a bill to establish a pilot program that would document the health benefits…” Though that bill was later defeated, Nelson Campbell decided to launch a pilot program anyway in his hometown, filming the results in the process.
Informative and inspiring, PlantPure Nation does a great job of illustrating some of the political machinations that come into play when citizens and state representatives try to introduce legislation that would serve to educate the public on the links between nutrition and health but is often stonewalled by those who lobby on behalf of the agriculture industry, even when the proposed legislation is accompanied by solid evidence that a plant-based diet has helped people lose weight, get off some of their medications and take control of their own health. It’s a fascinating look at U.S. politics and a promising reminder that no matter what happens in congress or in the Senate, we as citizens still hold the power to create change in our own lives and communities, even if our respective governments remain resistant and outdated (I’m looking at you, opponents of Bill C-246 here in Canada).
I’ve embedded the trailer for the film below. Just one warning: there is a woman in this film named Patty Jones whom you will immediately want to meet just so you can give her a high-five. Her joy and enthusiasm is infectious.