In my experience, when people think of vegans, they think of smug, skinny hipsters who basically have eating disorders. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was nine and to not eat meat in a culture centered around hamburgers is tough enough, but to then not eat pizza is just separatist. That being said, these days it seems that even my favorite meat eaters know that a plant-based diet is good for you and that eating too much meat and dairy can have harmful consequences on your body. But what about the reverse – how drastically can eating a plant-based diet alter your health positively?
The new documentary Chow Down follows three people who have been told by their doctors that they have incurable diseases (heart conditions and diabetes) and who choose to treat their sickness through dietary changes, instead of having surgery or taking medication. The film follows their struggles as they turn away from the typical American diet of processed food, dairy and meat, and adopt a plant-based diet. Their cheerleader is Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. A longtime activist for the diet-disease connection, Esselstyn has proven in studies that a plant-based diet can reverse the effects of heart disease and other illnesses, and he is trying to carry his message to others. This film is not yet yet available for rental or in movie theaters, but there are a bunch of screenings planned for the tri-state area, including one tonight, February 8th, at the Tribeca Grand with a panel discussion and Q&A with health foodies like Dr. Annemarie Colbin (Founder, Natural Gourmet Institute), Bart Potenza (Owner, Candle Cafe) and Gene Baur (President, Farm Sanctuary).