On Friday, USC students gathered at the Tutor Campus Center to enjoy vegan Indian food and view a screening of the 2011 documentary Forks Over Knives. The event was hosted by USC’s Vegetarian and Vegan Club and featured catering from No Tomatoes.
The film was an advocacy project in which two scientists promote a whole-foods, plant-based diet. The main theme of the film was the power of food and the way in which it can cure or reverse certain diseases.
The scientists featured in the film, T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., believe that a diet of animal protein turns on cancer and other diseases, such as coronary artery disease, which leads to heart attacks and strokes. They also say that a whole-foods, plant-based diet can stop, and in some cases, reverse diseases.
Duncan Gammie, a senior majoring in computer science, is not vegetarian or vegan and loves eating meat.
“I came here to be persuaded. I’m not a vegan, I’m not a vegetarian. I’m a full-on meat-eater,” Gammie said. “I’m just here to expand my mind and to see new possibilities.”
Silence fell over the room as a quote from Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine,” appeared on the screen and marked the beginning of the movie. Students were captivated by the information being presented.
The film ended to a resounding applause throughout the room and conversation immediately broke out.
Kathryn Bolton, a junior majoring in environmental studies and NGOs and social change, is a firm believer in the message of the film.
“Whole-foods, plant-based diet is the key and the answer to all of our problems, ever,” she said.
Most students appeared excited at the end of the film. Jennifer Cui, a freshman and World Bachelor of Business student, was glad she attended the screening. She compared Forks Over Knives to other documentaries known to have a similar message.
“I’ve watched Cowspiracy and Earthlings before, and those focus on different aspects. It’s an easy documentary to watch — it wasn’t off-putting to people,” Cui said. “I think it really helps open people’s eyes to the whole health-aspect and help people understand why someone would chose a dietary identity as vegan or vegetarian.”
Arjun Reddy, the vice president of the Trojan Vegetarian and Vegan Club, was pleased with the turnout of students and the conversation the film inspired.
“We wanted people to know the benefits of shifting to a plant-based diet. We know that a lot of people at USC, or even coming to this event, aren’t necessarily vegan or vegetarian,” he said. “We’re hoping this promotes a plant-based lifestyle and [students] can make some small switches to incorporate more plants and to reduce the meat consumption and dairy consumption in their life.”