How a failed effort to overcome interest groups influence on politicians led to the creation of a national movement

It has been about two years since I switched to a plant-based diet. One of the events that made me sit -up and think about making the change was watching a documentary called “Forks over Knives” which highlighted the health benefits of moving to a primarily plant-based diet that is low in sugar and salt.

Jump forward two years and I discover a documentary on YouTube called (it is also available on iTunes and Amazon Prime Video) Plant Pure Nation made by the same team as who did “Fork over Knives”.

The documentary film Plant Pure Nation tells the story of three people on a quest to spread the message of one of the health benefits of a plant-based diet. One of the key contributors to the “Forks over Knives” story is T. Colin Campbell, who’s 2004 bestseller “The China Study” documented his groundbreaking research on the divisive effects of animal protein has on the health of people. Campbell features in this documentary along with his son Nelson.

On November 15th 2011, doctors T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn presented their research on the benefits of plant-based nutrition to the Kentucky State legislature. The house members were enthusiastic. With one of the highest levels of childhood obesity in the nation, Kentucky also suffers from high rates of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes. Soon after Campbell’s and Esselstyn’s presentation, Rep. Tom Riner introduced a bill to establish a pilot program that would document the health benefits of a plant-based diet. But once the bill went into committee, industry lobbyists launched one of the most intensive lobby efforts ever in Kentucky. As the bill’s sponsor Rep. Riner put it, the bill was watered down to “a shadow of its former self”, turned “from steel to Reynolds Wrap.” Bummer.

Undeterred, Nelson decides to try his own pilot project in his hometown of Mebane, North Carolina. This is where the documentary really starts. He goes about recruiting a small number of locals to participate in a 10-day trial where they eat only prepared plant-based meals to show that there would be demonstratable benefits in that short space of time. He also wanted to demonstrate that such a diet would be easy to follow and indefinitely sustainable.

How would these rural people, many of whom were raised on southern comfort foods such as meat, potatoes, biscuits and gravy, handle a plant-based diet? Would they lose weight and get healthier? Would their families and friends accept their diet and lifestyle change? Could this be the spark of something even bigger?

The trial is a roaring success and Nelson decides to kick off several more trials, which he labels “jumpstarts”, recruiting a bigger sample group each time.

Buoyed by his success Nelson joins up again with his friend Kentucky, Rep. Tom Riner to educate the Kentucky legislature. Despite the overwhelming evidence presented the legislature once again snub their efforts – which was simply to get them to agree to a motion to state that a primarily plant-based, low sugar and salt diet has beneficial health benefits.

Campbell decides to take his effort nationwide by giving presentations across the United States and releasing this movie (which you can watch for free on YouTube.)

The movie does mainly focus on the health issues related to eating animal protein but Nelson also does cover some of the environmental impact of animal agriculture and its contribution to global warming.

The aim of Pure Plant Pure Nation is not just producing a movie but to start a movement. On their website, www.plantpurenation.com, they offer food for purchase, books, online seminars etc. They have also set about establishing regional PODs, which act as advocates and promotes activism at a local level.

We really enjoyed this movie and if you are interested in the health benefits of following a plant-based diet it is worth checking out.

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