In 2009, Brian Wendel, a Staten Island native raised on roast beef and pizza, began working on a documentary that would spark a health revolution. Two years later, he released “Forks Over Knives” that proposed a whole food, plant-based diet held the power to reverse chronic disease.
Today, the trailblazing documentary has grown into a series of books and a platform that has helped people transform their health, leading to the launch of the Forks Meal Planner. The meal planning digital tool was designed to help take the guess-work out of adopting a whole food, plant-based diet.
The digital tool is complementary to the 2011 book, “Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health,” edited by best-selling author Gene Stone. The companion piece to the documentary suggested that eating, “ a whole-foods, plant-based diet” could “save your life.”
Two additional books followed “The Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook” in 2012 – with recipes from esteemed vegan chefs Del Stroufe and Isa Chandra Moskowitz – and 2014’s “The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet”.
What Is a Whole, Food Plant-Based Diet?
“In a nutshell, a whole food, plant-based diet is based on whole, unrefined or minimally refined plant foods and excludes or minimizes meat, dairy products, eggs, and highly refined foods such as bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil,” says Jennifer Yang, vice president of marketing at Forks Over Knives.
In comparison, not all vegans follow a whole food, plant-based diet. Processed foods that include enriched flour, like white bread, and refined sugars and oils are still on the table.
“That being said, FOK teaches the gold standard plant-based diet, which is completely free of animal products and therefore vegan,” Yang adds.
What Is Forks Meal Planner?
Forks Meal Planner takes the guesswork out of following a healthier, whole food, plant-based diet.
“Our mission is to empower people to live healthier lives by changing the way the world understands nutrition. We aim to do this by providing the tools and resources to make a plant-based lifestyle easy and enjoyable,” says Yang.
The planner provides users with five days of personalized chef-developed easy-to-prepare recipes. The recipes are tailored to be familiar and appeal to the whole family, such as vegan burgers, hearty casseroles, and dairy-free mac and cheese.
For example, Forks Over Knives’ vegan stovetop mac and cheese swaps enriched pasta for whole wheat or gluten-free brown rice noodles. It’s topped with a pureed blend of potatoes, carrot, onion, cashews and nutritional yeast (an ingredient that comes in the form of yellow flakes with a cheesy, nutty flavor) to make a cheese sauce, without dairy’s saturated fat content.
After the week’s recipes are selected, the Meal Planner provides you with a grocery list that can easily be accessed through your device. It not only makes shopping easier but also helps to save money by not spending on extra groceries and it helps cut back on food waste. The list updates automatically if you decide to make any changes.
Using the meal planner also saves time in the long run by teaching you how to get started with batch cooking. The weekend prep feature provides a step-by-step guide to getting a head start on the week ahead, so you can spend less time cooking and more time with the family. According to Forks Over Knives, the average subscriber saves about 20 hours of meal prep and grocery shopping per month.
While studies have shown that a vegan diet can be healthier compared to diets heavy in animal products, a whole food, plant-based diet has added benefits.
The Health Benefits of Using the Meal Planner
“There is excellent scientific evidence that moving to a whole food, plant-based diet can halt and even reverse heart disease (the No. 1 cause of premature death in the U.S.) and type 2 diabetes,” says Yang.
Many have turned their lives around by following in Forks Over Knives guidance.
Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams’ lifestyle of late nights and unhealthy processed foods led to a critical tipping point in 2016. He was experiencing increased vision loss and tingling from nerve damage in his hands in feet, a symptom of his diabetes. His determination to improve his health without relying on medication led him to Forks Over Knives.
Within three months, his vision cleared, his blood pressure and cholesterol levels normalized.
“My perspective has really changed,” Adams told Forks Over Knives last September. Adams now advocates for whole food, plant-based diets and prepares 90 percent of his meals – without oil, refined sugar, and other processed ingredients – himself.
“When you sit down to eat a cheese bagel and wash it down with a Pepsi, you walk away feeling depressed and guilty. There is no longer any guilt associated with my meals. It feels good to give my body what it needs.”
Academy Award-winning director of “Titanic” and “Avatar” James Cameron credits the “Forks Over Knives” documentary with inspiring him to adopt a plant-based diet. “I watched that film ‘Forks Over Knives.’ I went into the kitchen, I took everything out of the kitchen that was not a plant,” says Cameron. He credits his diet for making him feel healthier and improving his endurance.
Former LA Galaxy soccer player Adis “Baggio” Hušidić adopted a whole food, plant-based diet after reading “The China Study” by doctor T. Colin Campell, whose findings were outlined in the “Forks Over Knives” documentary. “I’m able to run the longest distance per game of any player on my team. My recovery rate is much faster. My muscles recover much quicker than most other players. My energy level is high, ” says Hušidić. “Studies have also shown the diet’s potential to reduce the risk of some cancers, most notably breast, prostate, and colon cancers,” Yang explains.
Adopting a plant-based diet, avoiding alcohol and sugary drinks, and regular exercise can reduce your cancer risk by as much as 40 percent, according to the World Cancer Research Fund. In contrast, even small amounts of processed meat were found to increase the risk of cancer.
“The diet can definitely reverse obesity, which is a major risk factor for many debilitating diseases. Medical professionals are recommending the diet to help manage the symptoms of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sleep apnea, Multiple Sclerosis, and depression.”
The Forks Over Knives Way
And, says Yang, “We publish first-class daily content on our website to help inspire and educate people at every stage of their plant-based journey.”
Many others have shared their story about how the Forks Over Knives diet has transformed their health, from battling debilitating arthritic pain to losing weight through eating healthy food without compromising flavor. Even without meat, dairy, eggs, oil, refined sugar, and flour, Forks Meal Planner lets you enjoy a “world of plant foods” without feeling hungry.
“Plant-based foods have a lot more bulk because they contain more fiber and water than the standard American “diet” foods,” explains Forks Over Knives. “This bulk takes up more space, so our stomachs end up stretching sufficiently to shut off hunger signals despite our having consumed fewer calories overall. As such, a whole-food, plant-based diet is the only way to eat to feel full while also consuming fewer calories.”
Learn more about the Forks Meal Planner here.
Images via Forks Over Knives
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