Forks Over Knives: Plant Based Diet

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

forks over knives plant based dietForks Over Knives is a book based on the documentary of the same name, advocating the benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet.

It was written by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., who are both specialists in the prevention and reversal of chronic diseases through dietary adjustment.

The authors have dedicated their lives to researching healthy diets and claim that a diet based on whole foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can save you from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Plant Based Diet Basics

According to the authors, eating foods like meat, eggs, dairy products, and oils, is responsible for the development of cancer, heart disease, and strokes. Based on their research they are recommending that everyone eliminate these foods from their diet completely.

The diet is comprised entirely of plant-based whole foods including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. The authors highlight the importance of whole foods, stating that a diet of potato chips, pretzels, vegan pastries, and diet soda may technically be a plant-based diet but it is certainly not a healthy diet.

They point out that foods like cakes and cookies made with white flour and refined sugars cause blood sugar imbalances and weight gain. However, when you eat whole-plant foods like fruits, whole grains, and vegetables you will thrive, even though this is a high carbohydrate diet.

They also explain that it is easy to get enough protein and omega-3 fats with this way of eating. The authors state, “Natural plant-based foods provide all the essential nutrients needed for a well-balanced and healthy diet, as there are no nutrients found in animal-based foods that are not abundantly available in plant foods (with the exception of vitamin B12).”

Forks Over Knives also contains inspirational stories of dramatic health recoveries on this program, tips on how to transition to a plant-based diet and 125 recipes.

Some Foods Recommended

Fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, beans, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, oats, whole grain bread, rice, avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut, olives, soy milk, oil-free salad dressings, maple syrup.

Sample Forks Over Knives Meal Plan


Blueberry Oat Breakfast Muffins

Morning Snack 

1 Pear


Quinoa Garden Salad

Afternoon Snack 

Raw Date Power Bars


Sweet Potato-Vegetable Lasagna


Outrageous Brownies

Costs and Expenses

Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health retails at $13.95.

Click here to purchase this diet for a discounted price. Also available is The Forks Over Knives Documentary .

Forks Over Knives Trailer


  • Encourages a high intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
  • The health benefits of a plant-based diet are well supported by scientific research.
  • Provides tips to help dieters make the transition to a plant-based diet.
  • Includes 125 recipes.
  • Success stories of other dieters can give motivation to follow the program.


  • Some dieters may prefer not to completely eliminate animal products.
  • Does not include a structured meal plan.
  • Nutritional information is not provided for the recipes.
  • Will probably require more time to be spent on meal preparation.
  • Does not mention the negative health effects of caffeine and alcohol.
  • The book does not include exercise recommendations.

Consuming Whole, Plant Based Foods is Healthy

The information provided in Forks Over Knives is based on scientific research and many have achieved success on this program, recovering from chronic conditions including heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. It serves as a guide to help dieters make the transition to a whole foods plant-based diet and includes tips and recipes to get you started with this way of eating.

Although it is not specifically designed as a weight loss diet, most people find they effortlessly lose weight, due to the high fiber and nutrient content of the diet that naturally encourages a healthy appetite.

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
  • Candied Nuts

    Philippine pili nuts from the Bicol region in the Philippines is a great Filipino or Philippines food orsnack. Pili nuts are very healthy and nutritious indeed, being a source of energy, potassium and iron.They also have protein, dietary fiber / fibre, and calcium as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. I know they have no cholesterol, no trans fat, and the unsalted ones have no sodium. What is great about the pili nut snack or treat is that they are so crisp, rich, and delicious.

  • Norma Jacqueline Rawlings

    I have been veggie all of my life but vegan until recently I have many intolerances gluten onion brassica family but I have a good balanced diet not raw but partly . My mother has been veggie all of her life she is 93 and apart from arthritis dr says she has the insides of a woman half her age. I have to agree though you can still have too much salt and sugar on a veggie diet . Correct me if I’m wrong don’t you need some salt and how much is right?

    • ted

      Most adults can have 1500-2000mg of sodium per day and it is needed for proper body functioning.

  • helen woods

    would love to see an example of a day of food that some of you are doing. might help me as I plan my menus.

  • Sherrie

    Triglyceride Question:
    I’ve been on this diet now for over 6 months and so much has changed. I have consistently lost weight every month, now a total of 100 pounds, although some of that was due to diabetes before I was diagnosed. Once I was diagnosed I found this plan and decided to eat healthy instead of a diabetic diet of cancer sugar substitute. Anyway, my diabetes is well under control, my last A1C was 4.9 and it was 5.3 before that, so I’m on the right path. My good cholesterol was 149 and the bad was 49, so that has really changed and if I were to tally the number of carbs it is way over what is recommended for a diabetic because of the quinoa etc. that I eat daily. However, now for the first time my triglycerides are high – 225. Anyone know why that would happen when everything else is doing well? I’ve read that sometimes they are high when you’re losing a lot of weight, but also because you’re eating way too much sugar. I don’t have sugar, but I do have a lot of good carbs, so I’m confused. My triglycerides have always been within normal range until now.

    As a side note to anyone thinking about trying this lifestyle I highly recommend it. I have more energy then ever and look forward to exercise. That never happened before in my life, but I have the energy to want to exercise. Try it and you’ll never go back!

    • ted

      What type of fats are you eating in your diet?

      • Sherrie

        I don’t eat anything that is refined, nor packaged, except an occasional Amy’s organic frozen lunch at work as a last resort. I rarely eat out and if I do it is a family type restaurant and I either have bean burritos or a salad of some sort. I am losing weight consistently and so that has been good. It is just the triglycerides now and I did read somewhere that if you’re losing a lot of weight that it will go high because your body is transporting out the fat – I don’t know if I buy-in to that, but I can’t think of what else is causing the problem.

  • jackson

    ive left lots of comments here. I think its really important to see how everything is connected here. the film brushes the surface of how the government agencies provide “business” deals to the different dairy, meat etc…these things are very connected. the food pyramid is like a billboard where each space is BOUGHT by the industry. Dairy, Meat, Sugar and more are money making industries so they buy their way to look a way they aren’t. I am not vegan but i have been vegan and veg for a total of 12 years. i had pretty good health while i was veg…my health was best when i was vegan..and to test it out myself i went back to eating only what i liked…dairy, meat, fish etc. im 34..i got osteoarthritis, gout, bad skin, lost hair, had dental issues, got sick more than once a year…which was very rare previously while veg and vegan. Now i’m easing myself back into being vegan…BUT this time i am being more conscious of HOW i do it. No vegan junk food, no processed foods, cutting out refined sugars, i went gluten free, I eat local and im actually in the process of hopefully starting a farm so that i can grow whole foods for low/no income people in my community. I had heard lots of the things in this film and the films involving the china study, the gerson family, and many other popular foodie films…previous to studying nutrition i thought it was woo woo…after focusing 2 years of study on nutrition i found that it was all FACT…not opinion but fact. the Facts start to look like opinion when money making industries like the meat, industrial food, dairy and SUGAR…BUY their place on the food pyramid, buy their way into your foods. If people question this way of living…try it out…give it 3 months, 6 months, a couple years…then see how you feel…go to the dr for a check up and see if anything changed. DON’T LISTEN TO ME…try it out for yourself.

    • earthtomaui

      You make some good points. Wondering if you’ve started your farm up? and the “how to’s” of . I too would like to do some community education/services in my community aswell.

  • christian

    Its changed my whole families life.

  • sandra craggette

    I saw the documentary and it blew m mind and I am going to. get the book and adopt a plant base lifestyle

  • Sherrie Taylor

    I have been on the diet now for 3 months, more or less, the less part is due to that learning curve, but I have had a lot of positive effects which only makes me want to learn more. My BP is down a lot, I’ve been getting weaned off the diabetes meds, my cholesterol numbers are below normal now, and I’ve lost over 70 pounds. Something is certainly working! I feel so much better and I have learned about so many new foods – who knew that “nutritional yeast” would be yummy?? It sounds like something that I would not enjoy, but I look forward to it now! Leeks on the grill – yum! I used to love potato chips but now I can’t tolerate low sodium foods because they are way too salty. Any amount of salt in food is a turn-off. I never thought that would happen because I would salt everything – and most of that ‘everything’ was meat. Restaurants are a big disappointment to me as most don’t have anything to enjoy – it is either made with chicken stock, loaded with salt or is very refined products. I have a hard time getting together with friends socially and finding anything on a menu that fits with this type of diet. Anyone have any suggestions on how to handle this?

    • jackson

      check out vegan food blogs about places to eat. most..not all..metro areas have good vegan options. US west coast seems to be the best…i’ve moved all over and even places like KC Missouri has fantastic vegan places…they might not be vegan 100% BUT they will have good options. as for friends…CHALLENGE them to find a good recipe …or to make their favorite dish vegan.

    • sari k

      Don’t be afraid to ask the wait staff questions about healthy alternatives… I order a big salad with balsamic vinegar, whats in it depends on the place, most places will let you make requests things like beans, tofu, nuts, dries fruit, and of course veggies. Ask for a tortilla/wrap and it becomes a sandwich. Add a side of rice and steamed spinach! Go for avocado rolls at the sushi bar. Italian, order thin crust pizza w/out cheese, pasta with marinara sauce. Usually places will help you order or work with your diet if you ask.

  • Joe K

    I have been on a plant based program for the last 2+ weeks, on the advice of my Doctor (who is also on this program). I have already seen steady improvement in BP and fasting blood sugar levels, and have also noticed some weight loss. During the initial week, I fet that something was missing, but since then I have not given dairy/meat any thought.

    I decided to make this change primarily for health reasons, as I have the dreaded 3 – hypertension, high cholesterol, and high BP – and have been on a steadily increasing drug regiment over the past 2-3 years. I finally got fed up, scheduled an appointment to discuss my circumstances with my Doctor, and she was actually the one who came in and started right off about the plant-based program. After reading up, I thought it made sense and was something i could follow. I have not been focused too much on quantity yet – just on making sure what I have is whole grain, or a fruit or veggie.

    It’s actually been fun to share with my family, who have supported my efforts. I bought the extra cookbook, and we have been spending time reviewing and deciding on new things to try. For instance, I had never had quinoa, however I like the nutty taste, and in researching found it to be an abundantly nutritious food.

    I have also been buying dry beans & rice, and preparing them myself – so no sodium. I believe this has been particularly impactful, both with my BP, but also with weight loss (not retaining as much water).

    I am trying to work in some walking and light weight training, but again am manily looking to improve my health. I figure that if I do that, the weight loss will come – as I also work on portion sizes now that I have a sense of how full certain foods make me feel.

    It is a change, however I think you’d find it exciting as you discover new foods.

    PS – The veggie lasagna with sweet potato is actually VERY good – best recipe I’ve tried so far from the original book. Garbanzo loaf was also a thumbs-up from my family!

  • Jeremy

    I think thats great forks over knives and others has done a good job in premoting this healthy lifestyle and eating the way nature and God intended. Please dont forget the man that realy did the real world study. Check out Garsen Therapy.

    • jackson

      Dr. Max Gerson and his daughter, Charlotte who has continued the work. I studied human nutrition for 2 years and animal nutrition for a year..and was amazed…AMAZED at what government, western medical associations and drs do and don’t know about how nutrition is preventative and proactive …rather than medicine which is REACTIVE treatment of symptoms…for the most part. I don’t like to use the word Vegan because vegan doesnt equal healthy…PLANT BASED WHOLE FOOD DIET is a more accurate description of a better choice. Vegans can still eat junk…corn syrup can be vegan…that doesnt make it good for you. Sugar has no nutritional value…thats refined and added sugar. our brains are made of fat and run on sugar…but not bacon fat and soda sugar…its fats like avocado and sugar that is already IN fruits and veggies.

  • Ruben

    I watched this documentary and was pretty shocked at some of the things they were talking about. I’m 27 and have been eating meat and dairy all my life!! A week ago I cut out all of the meat and dairy and replaced with whole grains, fruits and vegetables. I also make sure that I keep up with the calories I intake. I have lost 12lbs. In 7 days and feel great! I’m eating constantly so I don’t feel hungry!! I agree that they should include some kind of structure in the book, but I get the concept and did a lot of research on the web to find out what certain foods are good to eat on a whole food, plant based diet while also keeping the calories in mind. I try not to call this a diet because I truly want this to be a lifestyle change. I’m borderline diabetic and on the verge if having high blood pressure. I can’t afford to sit around and do nothing about it! I want to see my children grow up and be around for them when they need me, not in a coffin!!

  • rotorhead1871

    a structured meal plan would be nice……most need the guidance

  • Ashley

    I just watched the documentary and I have gradually over the past year eliminated soda, red meat , white flour, most all corn sugar. I have chicken or fish 3-5 meals a day and eat eggs maybe 2x a week.
    I do have Greek yogurt with fresh fruit every day for breakfast. Would fruit smoothies with protein powder be OK for this diet?

    • jackson

      check out different kinds of protein powders….depending on your needs and desires hemp, pea, and soy protein might work best. unless you need extra protein because you are working out lots and need to build up muscle you wont need it. many protein powders have ingredients you don’t want. keep an eye out for sugar alcohols. IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT AN INGREDIENT IS GOOGLE IT! Folks spend hours researching cars, clothes, products, schools, etc…spend that much time or more researching the things you put in and on your body.

    • Chelsea

      Like Chris said if you’re having chicken & fish & yoghurt you probably don’t need protein powder in your smoothies! On top of that you want to avoid processed foods and protein powder is one of them!

      As the doco said 20% animal protein helped cancer grow whereas 5% protein in your diet halts the growth of cancers… They did also mention though that plant-based protein had no affect on cancer growth so if you can’t live without protein powder in your smoothies I’d go for a plant-based protein powder (rice protein, soy protein, pea protein – when Im craving a choc-banana smoothie I use tony sfeirs choc pea protein which is really tasty and all completely natural ingredients).

    • Chris

      They would probably say no since the protein powder first is animal protein most times and highly refined. If you follow the reccomendations of the types and servings of the food groups you would have more than enough protein on top of what you still eat on meat and dairy. The only thing that you would have to take if you truly take out all animal protein is B12 since in plants it is usually not there for vegetarian diets they either eat certain processed foods that is fortified, certain yeast additives, or just a multi vitamin.

      • jackson

        best vegan source of vit b12 is walnuts! you can make all sorts of yummy things with walnuts. most vits need to be ingested in certain combinations and are best at certain times of day.

  • alison

    what would 5% look like over a week?

    • rotorhead1871

      one meal.per WEEK!!….ie: 3 meals/day X 7 days= 21 meals/week…..5% is 1/20…therefore you can nuke out one meal per week and still get all the benefits…….

  • Catalina

    I have not read the book yet, but I do remember, specifically, that in the CNN Special: THE LAST HEART ATTACK that it was discussed that Bill Clinton did not eat nuts or avocados as these foods have too much fat. I am therefore confused that you have this on your recommended food list above.

    • Chelsea

      If you’re cutting out meat, dairy & eggs you will especially still need to eat fats as well! They’re not evil, in fact you need fats to help your body break down foods & the oils help kinda “lubricate” your joints… They are also super tasty & give you a nice full feeling. Oh and they are also processed more slowly by the body so can help keep you feeling fuller/satiated for longer ;)

    • julie

      bill clinton “feels everyone”s pain” and he is married to the biggest one who by the way … likes to apologize for everyone in the united states except her husband and his antics including lying to us all … and now we have to hear what healthy foods he likes or dislikes. carpe donuts and he did :)

      • not julie

        what does this have to do with the diet? bill clinton can’t eat healthfully because he’s a liar?

    • ted

      You’re body needs healthy fats like the ones in nuts and avocados.

  • Laurie

    I just watched the movie the other day, and maybe I’m mistaken, (which I will find out since I promptly ordered the movie and will watch it again) but I am pretty sure the test that they did with the rats was talking about CASEIN, and not protein. And from what I have seen milk casein is just as bad, if not worse, than animal casein.
    I am in the process of trying to change over to this lifestyle, but am finding that just because something SAYS its vegetarian doesnt mean it isnt full of sugar, which has always been my downfall. I also realize I will have to learn how to cook, as salad may get boring fast. But I am excited, and have already seen a 4 lb weight loss in just the few things I have changed. Cant wait for hubby to see movie too!

    • jackson

      if you are looking for ideas…FOOD BLOGS. there are people that blog the meals they make…each and every meal. food bloggers take great pride in their meals and recipes …as well as PICTURES. We are human and make mistakes…but its learning from the mistakes…that makes the mistake worth making. lots of this has to do with marketing…”natural” has no definition when it comes to food. “organic” has very ridged guidelines as to what qualifies. Vegan and Veg just mean no animal products…but it doesn’t equal good for you. so much “politics” play into eating better-racism, classism, access to information…etc. I had to take classes in grade school that i never used the information in my life…yet we aren’t taught nutrition…people find nutrition or “diet” to be very personal..however its a science. i suggest if the film helped you to learn and made it easy…watch films that are similar. check out dr gerson and his daughter dr Charlotte Gerson…it might seem out there or woo woo…but thats the is…its having a connection to your body and what you put in it or on it. Skin is our largest organ and it absorbs stuff…so hopefully you’ll have a more holistic view of your life and how things connect in it. best wishes!

    • rotorhead1871

      casein is protein… will help

    • ted

      Casein is one of the proteins in milk as well as whey.

  • Linda

    My husband and I have following the Forks over Knives/Engine 2 diet program for several days now…(felt this program was an answer to my prayers) my BP this past week at it’s worse was 178/111 and cholesterol 289 ….and my BP is back to normal in just 4 days…and I’ve lost 5 pounds, energy is waaay up, thinking is alot clearer too…am pretty excited!!! Am looking forward to great results!!!!

  • Leona Hamrick


    They were not saying to eat less than 5% protein. They were talking about a study where mice were fed either 20% animal protein versus 5%. The group with 5% animal protein consistently showed less liver cancer tumor growth. Protein comes in nuts, legumes, beans, and vegetables. It is simply not necessary to eat meat and dairy products for protein and health. This documentary, and diet, is sound. The book (Fork over Knives) has some recipes and a recipe book will be available soon.

    I am an internal medicine physician assistant by trade and also hold a doctor of health science degree.

  • Manny

    You hit the nail in the head with the list of “CONS”:
    1. Does not include a structured meal plan.
    2. Nutritional information is not provided for the recipes.
    To me, the two I list hear are the biggest issues with the book, and the fact that (correct me if I am wrong) the recipes come from either their bloggers or fan club, but these do not come from the Drs who the book, video and the plant-base diet comes from.

    For example, throughout the documentary they stress the fact that we should not have more than 5% of protein in our diet, well…how do we do that? This is a big miss. I wrote an email to them with similar observations as the ones you make here.

    They really missed the boat there.

    Thank you for a good sincere review.

    • jackson

      there doesnt have to be much structure in the diet…its not a “diet” in terms of follow these rules as long as you can till you can’t…”diet” is being used as in a way of being. getting bored with the food is a great thing…it makes space for people to EXPLORE…most folks only eat 100 or less ingredients…if you are eating a plant based diet…100 different fruits and veggies is a good mix to fulfill all the needs you have with your body. most folks just eat what they like…their “diet” isnt structured..its built on their preferences. Best bet is to mix it up…eat things that are different colors, eat things that are local-besides being good for the local economy things that don’t have to travel have more of their original nutrition…things degrade the older they are, eat with the season…the bigger the variety the better.

      • jackson

        also nutritional information that is provided on packaged items aren’t always exact…its used from what was tested…which isn’t always exact. if i get an apple…it depends on the season, how old the apple is, what the apple was exposed to in its distribution, the size, the variety etc.

    • Chelsea

      If you are concerned, you can easily find out nutritional values by typing ingredients into an app or website (I use “mynetdiary”) but I believe the whole idea is that if you are only eating plant-based whole foods its pretty damn hard to overeat! Common sense would indicate that maccas fries aren’t in the equation & if you only ate potato you’d be defeating the purpose…

      If the recipes are using plant-based whole foods then they are in line with the recommendations of the book, and you shouldn’t need a doctor to spell that out.

      Also if you are eating whole food plant-based its virtually impossible to overeat protein (as most veggies have the right amount anyway or you would have to eat ridiculous amounts of them to get too much protein). If you DID eat too much plant protein it wouldn’t matter as the studies showed overeating plant protein didn’t make a difference to cancer growth, it was only the animal protein that did that :P

    • Rome

      The study was conductive to ANIMAL protein.

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