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Chow Down: A Documentary With Heart

June 27, 2011

A few weeks ago I was contacted to review a new documentary called Chow Down. Julie, one of the creators, saw that I reviewed Forks Over Knives and thought I’d enjoy her movie as well.

“Root for Charles, John, and Garnet as they try to buck the system of pills and procedures and outfox their heart disease and diabetes. When their doctors inform them that they can’t get better, our intrepid trio tells the doctors to think again. With lighthearted animation, piercing expert interviews and a feisty attitude, Chow Down is the moving story of the success you can achieve when you rewrite the recipe for a healthy life.

With lighthearted animation and piercing expert interviews, CHOW DOWN exposes the three factors that fatally impact our country’s health: the medical community’s allegiance to the status quo, the government’s allegiance to the food industry, and Americans’ allegiance to cheap, convenient food.”

My first thought was “this sounds identical  to Forks Over Knives. Why are they making another one?” But I am all for promoting the benefits of a plant based diet and so am willing to watch any movie on the topic.

Chow Down refers to itself as a “documentary with heart”, and it’s immediately clear why. While Forks Over Knives has been criticized for being boring and repetitive, Chow Down incorporates tons of graphics, cartoons, and even a goofy song. It makes the movie much more entertaining, though a bit overboard at times.

Like Forks Over Knives, Chow Down follows three patients as they try to reverse their heart disease and diabetes by adopting a plant-based diet. The film even interviews one of the same doctors as Forks Over Knives, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, but also many others. Topics range from how these diseases develop, how the government almost encourages them to develop, and how a plant-based diet can reverse them. One of the most interesting things I learned was that the government actually works with fast food restaurants to create new menu items that promote different food industries. One of them introduced a new double cheese burger to help support the dairy industry!

I do have one criticism of the movie, and that is how negative some of the interviews are. Kudos to honesty, but when these patients talk about how bad their new food tastes, how expensive it is to buy fresh vegetables, and how difficult it is to cook all the time, it really takes away from the message of the movie. One of the patients even gave up on her new lifestyle because “life got in the way”. I was actually quite shocked that these interviews were included because it seemed so contradictory from what the movie was aiming to get across.

Overall, getting the word out about how a plant-based diet can prevent and cure disease is a very good thing. I like that Chow Down tried to make the message more accessible by being light-hearted and fun. I just hope people don’t get scared off by some of the negative remarks about changing one’s lifestyle.

You can watch the trailer here:


The website also lists any screenings and has an option to order the DVD online.

Thanks, Julia, for giving me the opportunity to review your film!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2011 1:27 pm

    I actually think that it’s helpful that some negative comments were included. The truth is that not everyone is going to like a plant-based diet. The point is that eating less meat is only going to make you healthier, and going from eating large amounts of meat everyday to eating tiny portions of meat every once in a while may be a huge step in health.

    Maybe including those interviews makes the movie more accessible to people who aren’t willing to switch to a plant-based diet right away?

  2. June 27, 2011 1:38 pm

    Love to see this!

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