Behind The Butter

forks over knives

Last night, Adam and I went to the premiere of Forks over Knives. I had been excited for this documentary, that’s based on the book The China Study, to come out because I love any and all movies about food. For a number of reasons, Adam and I both have decided to reduce the amount of meat we consume, so I thought going to this movie (after a dinner of Mama Pea’s chickpea tacos and dough balls <— Adam approved) would be the perfect summer “kick-off”!

First, let me say that prior to seeing the movie I had been reading The China Study because I always like to read the book first. When I started reading it, I was on my deathbed and really enjoyed it (note that I haven’t finished it yet but am about halfway through). If anyone is unaware what the book/movie is about, it’s about a study done in China (duh) that documents the amount of various cancers in specific areas (both rural and urban) and how that compares to the cancer rates in the United States. To sum it all up, these two doctors found out after decades of research that those people that ate a “plant based whole foods diet” were the least likely to get cancer. Those people who gorged on burgers and hot dogs were the most likely. They also go on to state in both the book and the movie that not only can eating a mostly plant based whole foods diet reduce your chances of getting cancer, it can also cure you. I found that part the most interesting as it goes along with my new love for Eastern medicine and the belief that food can be used to heal you.

I totally believe it, especially with my migraines and past experiences with IBS. Even though I don’t necessary loooove vegetables as much as other bloggers seem to (I love cupcakes..I don’t love broccoli), I can 100% recognize that I feel much better, have more energy and get way less headaches when I eat them. And for the past, errr, eight months I’ve been slacking a little in that department (and have had way more migraines). The first question my acupuncturist asked me when I met her was “do I eat lots of vegetables” and unfortunately, I couldn’t really answer her honestly with a straight face. Embarrassingly enough, I couldn’t even remember the last veggie I ate. Oops.

Adam and I both really enjoyed the movie (he’s a documentary buff so I knew he would be down) and I think my favorite parts were hearing about those people already inflicted with health related diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cancer that totally changed their lives around solely by consuming the diet (no drugs!). I’ve always known that a plant based diet was the healthiest way to live, and have even toyed with going vegan before, but in the end my love for cheese prevailed. Personally, I think I could go without meat (although giving up pulled pork would be very, very tough) because I actually enjoy foods like tofu, beans and quinoa.

Adam, on the other hand, loves burgers. And barbecue. And whole chicken breasts on the grill. Adam hates tofu.

However, we have both decided to cut back on our meat intake and this was something we had talked about before seeing the film. I think it will be easier for me, since eating like that has always felt the most natural to me and I can clearly see how much more energy that kind of lifestyle affords me. It might be tougher for Adam but by taking baby steps, he is planning on cutting his meat intake from 6-7x a week to maybe 2x a week. For a meat loving Texan, I would consider that to be a victory! We are both doing this purely for specific health reasons and don’t plan on becoming vegetarians. I really don’t think the point of the movie was to convert us all to becoming vegans. I think the point of the movie was to really make us aware of the sickness out there and to cut back when and how we can.

I highly recommend seeing this movie because it does a great job at making us aware (as we already should be!) of the extreme sickness in our country today…and how it can be prevented.  Especially as “foodie-people” as I’m guessing most of us who are reading this are, I think we have a responsibility to ourselves and others to become aware about diet-related diseases since the answer is seemingly right under our noses.

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  • Molly @ RDexposed
    May 28, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Jenna, I love love LOVE that you are speakinng about this topic! I have been thinking very hard about reducing my meat intake even more. I briefly read the first chapter of the China Study at Borders a year ago (after a nutrition professor encouraged us students to go more towards a vegan diet as much as we could).

    “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”!!

  • Baking 'n' Books
    May 28, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Very interesting. You and your blog seem to be going through some changes I can foresee…hmmm. I don’t think I could ever give up meat or cheese (or yogurt) – BUT , yes I think like everything, reducing it. I recently read an article about “part-time veg’s” or “flexitarians” – we get so caught up in this all-or-nothing approach. But the author and her husband simply started cutting back on certain meats at every meal and ate what they enjoyed – if they wanted a (real) sausage and not a fake one – they found that they didn’t need to eat it as often (i.e putting in fake substitutes just lead to further cravings). So instead of eating it 7 days a week, they cut back to 3 or 4 (5 for her hubby 😉 ).

    I really think people just need to sit back and not follow fads or trends bottom line and just live (and eat). Then it’ll all come together (I know I’m a hypocrite and am trying to work on this and praying for balance). I also think that studies such as the “China Study” and others(!) for or against certain diets should NOT be taken as the Bible – there is just as much research to back up WHY these studies are flawed and biased. So – please! – no Holy Grails!!

    I think the adage – “Listen to All. Follow NO one” sums it up best.

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga)
    May 28, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Jenna this was a beautiful post! Both the synopsis of the China Study, the movie, and how it has effected you (in just such a short amount of time, i.e the next day) you’re already going to make changes in the way you eat b/c you feel it will be beneficial for your health. That’s wonderful!

    When I met my hubs 12 yrs ago, he was eating the SAD. Lots of meat and potatoes and vegetables were iceberg lettuce a shredded carrots. He was 50 lbs overweight with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a mess. By virtue of me doing the cooking, i.e. not buying meat and buying lots of veggies, he lost all that weight, controlled all his medical conditions without drugs, and although he may eat a burger when out with clients, he doesn’t miss that style of eating and way of life.

    So just do your thing, lead by example, and as you said, the point of all of this is not to convert everyone to a strictly plant based diet but to make us aware that eating more plants, in general, will just make us feel better on so many levels.

    So happy for you that you’re migraines are better, too!

    And I love the posts this past week and recently where you are sharing more personal things and thoughts and musings in addition to your wonderful recipes 🙂

  • Emily Malone
    May 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

    I saw FOK last week and also found it very inspiring. Good for Adam for being open to the idea and not feeling pressured to fall into those lame “men eat meat with every meal” stereotypes. You guys are too cute. 🙂

  • Natalia - a side of simple
    May 28, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Aw, love that picture of you and Adam, and how much of a “team” you are…especially on the dough ball front 🙂

  • Stephanie@MyThornsHaveRoses
    May 28, 2011 at 9:31 am

    I’m still in mid-read of the China Study. We too have adapted a meat-LESS lifestyle although we don’t plan on becoming vegetarian. Ryan is also a huge documentary buff so I’m sure we’ll be seeing this film soon. He wants to read the China Study first as well. Thank you for your thoughtful post on this. Adorable picture. 🙂

  • Kelli H (Made in Sonoma)
    May 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I really want to see this. I just watched Food Matters last Tuesday and it seems to be closely related. So interesting.

  • Sarah @ OC2Seattle
    May 28, 2011 at 9:39 am

    How have I never heard about The China Study or this new documentary? I thought we were tuned into all of that here in Seattle! Thanks for making us aware in such a well-reasoned way. I’m looking forward to watching and reading especially since diet played such an important roll in prolonging my aunt’s life (from 1 year to 10) when she was diagnosed with cancer many years ago. The Australian approach (which is where she lived) to the disease is strikingly dissimilar to the US approach and “cleaning the blood” through diet is a major component. But, like you, I’m never giving up cheese 😉

  • Chloe (South Beach Girl)
    May 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Forks over Knives is definitely on my list, I find all food-related movies interesting and recently have thought about going completely vegetarian. Right now I don’t eat red meat and am slowly phasing out poultry, although I don’t know if I could ever give up (or want to, or think it would be healthy) fish and seafood.
    I’ve also noticed that people are much more accepting of vegetarian diets now, whether it be because they hear about e.coli outbreaks in beef or are learning more about our food system, which makes it easier to explain to others (specifically, my parents) my food choices.
    My boyfriend is Indian and was raised as a vegetarian and he is also thinking about going back to full vegetarian. Right now he doesn’t eat red meat, but does eat poultry and seafood – so maybe we’ll try out a summer of vegetarianism together!

  • Jess@atasteofconfidence
    May 28, 2011 at 9:51 am

    This is a great summary of your thoughts and the movie, thanks! I have been thinking about watching it and you convinced me:)

  • Becky
    May 28, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I think approaching this gradually is the best bet for long-term success and sustainability. When my husband and I became vegetarians 18 months ago, we had already given up red meat for more than 5 years. We cooked very little meat at home at that point, and pretty much only ate it when we ate out. People are often surprised when I truthfully tell them that becoming a vegetarian was no big deal, but that’s because we had already eased ourselves into it. I’ll be interested to hear your evolving thoughts on this as you and Adam are 1, 3, 6, 12 months into this. My opinions definitely shifted the longer I went without meat.

  • Molly
    May 28, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Ah that picture is def. wall material. Very cute. I like that you are going to work together towards a goal. It is always easier doing things with another. I did the whole vegetarian deal and felt outstanding but now I can’t imagine fulling giving up my turkey or chicken or fish or any meat really. Maybe I should take a look into seeing this movie.

  • Maria
    May 28, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I just want to say that the China Study has several flaws and controversy about it. With the abundance of research on the benefit of vegetarianism, there are also many reputable experts and resources that state the opposite.

    I personally do not believe there is an issue with eating meat products. But the issue is how or where the product is from. The treatment and production of our food today is the core issue and if that can be turned around, the world would be healthier.

    • kate
      May 28, 2011 at 10:38 am

      Agreed- I eat a strict Paleo diet. Grains are actually the cause of inflammation and autoimmune diseases like diabetes, whereas our bodies are made to utilize meat and fat most efficiently. As an epidemiologist I see a ton of flaw in the China Study. The claims it makes are not backed up well and it appears that data is selected in or out to prove why vegetarianism is the way to live.

      Plus have you ever looked on the box of any fake meat product? The ingredient list is horrendous. I’d stick with meat, veg, nuts, seeds, and some fruit.

      • D
        May 28, 2011 at 10:58 am

        I agree to an extent, but I am actually a vegan who doesn’t consume grains. I loved the China Study (and I do recognize it has flaws) but I just wanted to comment on your last statement – have you read the China Study in it’s entirety? The China Study DOES NOT promote or recommend eating fake meat products. He only suggests eating WHOLE, unprocessed, healthy food. I get that there are tons of vegetarian/vegans who eat a lot of sketchy non-meat products, but this is not something that’s encouraged from the China Study at all.

        • Becky
          May 28, 2011 at 11:52 am

          Agreed D, and it’s also not necessary. I’m a vegetarian who does not eat fake meat, and who also eats VERY little tofu (only when eating out, and only occasionally). It’s completely possible to be a vegetarian who doesn’t eat Chik’n tenders, or other crap like that.

          • Baking 'n' Books
            May 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm

            I know – did you see the episode where the author of The Veganist was on ? She was also on Ellen. She went to the grocery store with families to start eating vegan – and loaded their carts with “fake” cheeses, “deli” meats, burgers, etc.

            I like that stuff too on occasion (and I am NOT vegan or vegetarian) – but to think that’s what you “should” eat to be healthy was really mis-informing. I’d rather eat a chicken raised without injections and humanely versus long ingredient lists on a daily basis.

            daily basis. I do enjoy my veggie burgers on occasion 🙂

      • Nikki
        May 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm

        I think one of the things we have to recognize about The China Study (and I think Kate is getting at it a little bit) is that there is a difference between the book, The China Study, and the peer-reviewed, controlled, and mostly animal- and basic science- based research. I’m not familiar with the epidemiological aspects of TCS, but I know that much of the animal research background for TCS was done in the 70s and 80s – our understanding of nutrition, physiology, and chemistry has changed a lot since then. One of the most prominent flaws in TCS is an experiment where animals showed increased cancer (compared to baseline) when consuming animal protein – but this was never compared to vegetable protein! No assessment of vegetable protein effects on cancer was even conducted. When these experiments have been redone, they have often failed.

  • Mama Pea
    May 28, 2011 at 10:05 am

    You know I’m behind you 110%. I’d love to collaborate on some recipes together…maybe making some of Adam’s favorites “Pea Friendly?” I have a feeling some great things are in store with these changes!

    • Erin
      May 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      I love mama pea and jenna recipes! so I support this!!! 🙂

    • Katie (Sweet Tater)
      May 29, 2011 at 7:31 am

      how exciting!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    May 28, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Great write up on this! Since limiting my meat intake to around 2x a week I know I feel so much better about my health too. I hope you’ll post about how the changes are going for both of you and how Adam adjusts. I think it would be interesting to hear and I’m sure you’ll come up with some great recipes out of it!

    Good luck to both of you!

  • Sana
    May 28, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I love that you and Adam are doing this together, you two rock!

  • Jos
    May 28, 2011 at 10:45 am

    You guys are so bloody cute. I’m waiting for the engagement post.

  • Sonia (the Mexigarian)
    May 28, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I haven’t read the book but I am interested in seeing the movie. Food Inc made me ball my eyes out and I don’t know if this one will do the same, but I do like the enlightening experience of food related movies.

    I do believe in the power of food. I know that when I eat a lot of meat (like 2 or more times per week) I feel sluggish, ill, temperamental. When I do buy meat I make sure they follow a strict guideline so mostly I get meat from Whole Foods. Eating out, sometimes you just don’t know where the meat comes from and sad to say, those are the times I do feel the reprecussions of eating it.

    Thanks for the post 🙂

  • Vanessa
    May 28, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Great post!! I hope that you share some of your “meat free” recipes. Although I have no plans to become a vegetarian (love my cheese and my Greek yogurt!!), I am trying to reduce the amout of meat I cook for my family. My husband sounds like Adam…he consumes meat nearly every day. Maybe if I made him some of your delicious dessert recipes he would be more open to meatless meals : )

  • Khushboo
    May 28, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Firstly cutesy pic ever! Secondly I totally agree with you! I’m not a vegetarian by any means but many of my meals are veggie-based. Fortunately I do love vegetables so it comes naturally to me! I feel so much cleaner when my non-veg consumption is kept at a minimum! Would you classify eggs as a vegetarian food? Also try tempeh with Adam. I’m yet to try it but I’ve heard it has a very meaty texture.

  • Ellen
    May 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

    After I read this post, I looked up the video on youtube. I truly believe that what they have found is true. The growing issue of disease and poor health in the U.S. is becoming scary. While my family isn’t vegetarian, I myself don’t care so much for meat. I’m more of what you would call a periodic vegetarian. I hope that our citizens can be educated and have healthy food accessible to them more and more. Thanks for your insight!

  • kellyo
    May 28, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Great post and I love the picture! I try not to label myself or how I eat but I know I feel much better when my meat consumption is low. Maybe two times a week, tops, works best for me. I think it’s important to listen to your body and see what works for YOU. Best of luck for you both on this adventure!

  • Errign
    May 28, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I loved this post. I always find your pov so honest & so down-to-earth, if that makes sense. I really am leaving this comment though, to tell you that the picture of you & Adam is adorbs!

  • Lee
    May 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    My husband and I just saw the movie last night. He normally eats a pretty meat-centered diet. After seeing the movie, he keeps saying he’s going to become vegetarian. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m really happy that the movie had such an effect on him. I kept telling him that maybe he should just cut back the meat but he seems to want to give it up. However, we just saw the movie so I am curious how long he’ll feel like this.

  • Wendy
    May 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Sugar is a plant, right??? 🙂

  • staceyhealthylife
    May 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Agreed!!! Good for you guys for making that choice.

  • Rebecca @ How the Cookies Crumble
    May 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I couldn’t agree with your post more. I recently watched Food Matters which was much different then what I thought the movie would be, but very informative. I cant wait to check out this new movie. I had switched to a primarily vegetarian diet at the beginning of the year but then learned I have a gluten allergy, and since I travel ad lot for work, started eating meat since I had to avoid so many grains while on the roads. I definitely think there are some great benefits to eating vegetable based diets! Lucky for me I LOVE vegetables!!!

  • Erin
    May 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Very well said, couldn’t agree more. Love burgers, and really couldn’t ever give up meat completely. But not one to eat meat everyday either. I eat a TON of veggies and healthy foods which definately keeps me healthy and feeling the best I can. I love that you are bringing back more topics to talk about…and not all cupcake recipes… although we all love cupcakes. Its nice to read your writting. 🙂 Love your “voice”.

  • Nicole
    May 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I was a vegetarian, and sometimes vegan, for almost a decade of my life. This year I started doing a lot of research about the paleo lifestyle and I can’t imagine going back to my previous way of eating. There are a lot of flaws in the China Study and a lot of data was manipulated and omitted from the publication of the study. Food politics are very personal and I don’t judge or chastise people for what they choose to eat; I do encourage people to read all the information they can. For many, many years while I was vegetarian, I would turn my nose up on any evidence contrary to my way of eating – looking back, I wish I hadn’t. I think everyone should do what they feel is best for them, but I do want more people to know more about the raw data behind the China Study.

    If you read the analysis that was done on the data done by a blogger over at I think it may change some people’s minds.

    • Baking 'n' Books
      May 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm

      Thanks for this! I’ve heard of similar studies and that’s what I like to see. TWO sides to the story. Hence, why I think it’s more about balance. I just eat variety…and chocolate 🙂

  • Jaime
    May 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I have not read, seen or even heard of the China study , so I was wondering if they take into consideration the obesity levels in their studies? Many of those ailments they claim are found less common from more plant-based diets are also more common in obese populations, as a result of the obesity, not the diet directly. Yes, a plant-based diet is very healthy but in general its also a lower calorie diet, reducing obesity and therefore the health problems associated with it.

    It has been shown with these crazy diets like the guy who ate only potatoes for a month, or the guy who only drank beer, or the other guy who only ate twinkies and junk food, all these guys lost weight and didnt seem to have any major negative effects from their extreme diets. Why is that? Because they COUNTED CALORIES. I am not saying what they did was healthy, but it proved a point, no matter what your diet is CALORIES MATTER. I think this is where America has its problem. Portions are OUT of control, we rely too heavily on “convenience foods”, and we are addicted to DRINKING our calories, etc.

  • Laura
    May 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I think it’s great that you’re taking control of your own health, but I have to admit that I’m selfishly a bit disappointed! I’ve recently returned meat to my diet *for* health reasons, and I love your recipes, which I actually make, unlike 99% of the recipes on other healthy living blogs. I’m on a basically low FOD-MAP diet for IBD and IBS, and I can’t soy and legumes, am allergic to eggs and dairy, and was finding it impossible to continue as a vegetarian. However, I’ll still look forward to the non-meat sweet recipes! 🙂

  • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    May 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I agree with Laura! 😉 I am thrilled for you Jenna that this change in eating habits is helping with your migraines and IBS. For myself though I would have to say I used to enjoy all food groups (along with exercise) and was always in good health.
    After struggling with disordered eating issues and reducing my meat intake to next to none, I began suffering from several health issues, including chronic stomach pains.
    I’ve worked hard to develop a healthier relationship with food; and, for me, re-introducing meat was an important step in the recovery process 😉

    • Baking 'n' Books
      May 28, 2011 at 7:27 pm

      So WELL said! I absolutely agree – I really feel that restricting or following certain extremes or cutting out meat altogether sets you up for a lot of problems. It may work for some…but for a lot of people, I really do feel that the body can thrive better with balance.

  • Liz @ iheartvegetables
    May 28, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Oh my gosh I can’t wait to see this movie! (And not just to try to convince my dad that he probably shouldn’t eat meat allll the time, haha.) I love getting reinforcement on eating a healthy meal! 🙂

  • Emma (Namaste Everyday)
    May 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I totally agree that as food bloggers, we need to promote conscious eating. There are very good reasons to obsess about food, so we need to celebrate the healthy ones!

  • Lisa
    May 28, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    I found that a really happy balance for me was just not buying meat at the grocery store. Essentially, I am a vegetarian at home but I will order meat at restaurants whenever I feel like it. I went totally vegan for a month, but I didn’t find any value in making such a drastic change in my diet.

    It definitely makes you think a little bit more about what your food is worth. I’m becoming less and less enamored with meat, and wouldn’t rule out going vegan again in the future.

  • Teresa
    May 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I’m a long-time blog reader. I enjoy your blog because of the recipes, photography, travel adventures, etc. However, I wish you wouldn’t delve off into “health” topics, especially when you are basing your food choices on a docu-drama. Like a lot of people, I’m trying to add more fruits, veggies and whole grains to my diet. But beef, pork, poultry and fish can be part of a healthy diet, too. There are so many factors that determine our cancer risk — genetics, sedentary lifestyles, etc., I don’t think it’s right to blame meat consumption for cancer. If vegetarianism is your lifestyle choice, that’s fine. But don’t write a blog that hints that people will get cancer from eating meat.

    • jenna
      May 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm

      I completely and wholeheartedly agree with you and hope that I wasn’t misunderstood. I wasn’t writing a blog post to tell people they might get cancer from eating meat, I was reviewing a movie that said that. I personally have no intentions of labeling myself as a vegetarian and I think I made that clear. I hope that people who read my blog or watch that film make their own life choices based on what’s right for them—I’m definitely not advocating a particular lifestyle, other than a more active and aware one. The only reason I felt compelled to write about this today was because my job is in the food world and this film is a part of that. Whenever I read a “foodie” book or watch a particularly interesting “foodie” movie, I like to write about my thoughts on my food blog. They sort of go hand in hand.

      I completely agree with you that vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice that’s great for some and not so great for others—however, writing a post saying “meat is bad and will give you cancer” was never my intent and I hope it wasn’t taken that way. It was merely my thoughts and review after seeing a new film on the subject.

    • Jennie
      May 30, 2011 at 8:56 am

      Oh, please. I never reply to comments like this but it’s *Jenna’s* blog. Doesn’t this mean she can write about whatever she wants?

      Seriously, now. Let her have her space to say what she likes … it harms no one and whatsmore, she’s a wonderful writer.

  • Karen
    May 28, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Good for you and Adam, Jenna…taking baby steps in the quest to feel optimally healthy are awesome!!

  • Sam
    May 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm


    Ignore all the harsh comments. People are very sensitive about their food. Keep doing you girl–that’s all you can do :-O)

    • Amber K
      May 29, 2011 at 8:16 am

      My sentiments exactly!

  • French Heart
    May 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Will definitely see this. Have cut my meat back to a little bit once in a great and only while when out to eat; to now, none at all. It isn’t just personal health—it’s the health of the planet. There are 20B food animals on earth to 6B humans & the amount of waste, water usage, soil erosion, trees cut down, pesticides into the atmosphere and water, etc is truly astonishing.

    I did a post of related/interesting factoids for Earth Day. If anyone wishes to copy off & slightly change into their own format for their blogs—be my guest. I think it is good info to pass on. Because I don’t think people realize just how overall damaging it is.

    Here’s the link:

  • Jil @ Big City, Lil Kitchen
    May 28, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    1. You two are adorable. 2. I’ve been wanting to see this soo excited that it’s good!

  • M
    May 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I so enjoyed this post Jenna!Fabulous to read some different posts besides
    recipes,thank you! Really interesting.

    I know you are not advocating for everyone to
    drop meat”. I am sure most of us can tell that you are a balanced and interesting
    person who is looking to explore things on your life journey…..and I for one APPLAUD your insights and personal path,as I find it a fascinating read!!

    I am not looking to “follow” what you do or try or consider,but I am looking
    forward to enjoying more thought provoking posts such as this one!

    Thanks for trusting in us readers to know that your opinions are not stated as facts!

    You rock Jenna-love your continuing evolution in life(and enjoying little
    glimpses into Adam’s too!) Bravo brave writer!!

  • Laura
    May 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    This certainly is a great post as it brings up a very present issue in the food world today. I hope everyone can find what works for them, what makes them feel healthiest, at their best, and happy. I 100% believe each person is unique and what works for one person, might not work for another. Through my journey with switchin’ up my diet, I’ve found my body really can’t handle soy or gluten, but thrives off of greens, veggies, lean meats and beans (and low sugar, though I refuse to do so ha!); it’s helped my darn IBS. I highly recommend reading the Eat Right For Your Blood Type Diet, as that is another great read! I hope you find a diet that makes you feel your best too!

    • Laura
      May 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm

      Oh! I also wanted to say that I find inspiration for trying new things through your blog and Mama Peas; even though I don’t follow a vegan or veg diet, I love perusing recipes on both. Keep it up!

  • Jodi
    May 28, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    I would encourage you to read Weston Price’s research. We’re to eat animal fats, meat, whole milk, butter – it’s about nutrient dense food. We should be nurturing traditions of our ancestors rather than used as a force destructive to the environment and human health.

  • Kate
    May 28, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    I was a vegetarian for 3 years and raw food vegan for a few months. I am not anymore; I eat meat, grass-fed, local, organic, usually. I think meat isn’t a problem, unless it is from a commerical source and corn/grain-fed. From most studies I’ve read, eating tons of vegetables is what can improve our lives and health the best.

    I just always get annoyed when people think a “healthy” diet would only be going into vegetarianism or veganism. Those can be unhealthy too if you rely on processed junk. Vegetables are the key to having a better life, clearer perspective and have tons more energy, IMHO. I have been increasing my meat intake (and eat copious amounts of veggies as well) for the past weeks and I feel better and look better than I have in years. But everyone is different.

    • Sally
      June 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm

      I’ve had the same experience and I agree that it isn’t the meat. I don’t think either vegetarianism or veganism is necessarily the way to good health. If you want to follow one of those ways of eating, great — but you don’t need to do it to be healthy.

  • shannen
    May 29, 2011 at 12:13 am

    interesting! however, i too find it hard to reconcile this with the philosophy of living primal (mark sissons’ primal blueprint!). what if eating meat *is* part of our biology? what does nature truly intend for us human beings? the study may not be conclusive because there can be a million other factors involved besides diet, unbeknown to those involved in the study. it’s not possible to isolate factors and thus compare lifestyles of individuals. but i do agree that we should just eat our veggies 🙂 can’t go wrong there!

  • Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf
    May 29, 2011 at 1:37 am

    I so want to see Forks Over Knives, but the closest place playing it is 6 hours away, in a different state! Ack!

    I definitely agree about reduced meat consumption. My husband and I are both Texans, and he grew up eating ranch food. Basically pork and/or beef at every. single. meal. After a year and a half of my cooking, we visited his family for Easter and by the end of the weekend, we had consumed 4 out of 4 meals that were heavily centered around red meat. Even he was totally beefed-out! And his family rarely eats a fresh vegetable. And fruit rarely enters their house. His mom actually bought strawberries for strawberry shortcake that weekend and felt the need to justify the purchase, “they were just too good a deal and I couldn’t resist.” I find that terribly backwards.

    I’ll also point at that his dad battled stomach cancer several years back. I do very much think that it was related to his diet. Bacon every morning. Poor quality beef at every non-breakfast meal. Nary a fruit or vegetable. For this reason my husband is more careful about his consumption of nitrates/nitrites, and our meat consumption is reduced and total produce consumption is greatly increased. It’s a good thing he loves vegetables!

  • Christie {Nourishing Circle}
    May 29, 2011 at 4:36 am

    As someone who wholeheartedly believes that each person has to find what works for their body and lifestyle – I find these types of things interesting. Based on my nutritional education – I know that there is research to back up just about every dietary theory there is which in my opinion only furthers my stance – we each have to find what works for us.

    But I do wonder if the research in TCS was done with animal protein that was raised in a traditional way – not pumped full of hormones, antibiotics and fed it’s natural diet. Obviously, I have not read the book or seen the movie but I am curious about this aspect but in general, I do believe that eating food that was raised (meat and vegetables alike) in the way nature intended is the way to go.

  • Paige @ Running Around Normal
    May 29, 2011 at 5:42 am

    Wow, I just spent way to long reading this post and all the comments below it! hehe 😛
    But it’s definitely intriguing to hear everyone’s viewpoints!

  • Stephanie Murphy
    May 29, 2011 at 6:35 am

    This is a great topic! The United State’s meat consumption is a way more complicated dispute than a lot of people realize. I have not yet seen this documentary, but I hope that it will give people a more well-rounded understanding.

    I love a lot of foods other than meat, so avoiding it is not difficult for me. What I find difficult about not eating meat is getting a feeling of fullness and satisfaction after meals. Sometimes I just need that heavy feeling of a nice chargrilled chicken breast in my stomach to feel satisfied. haha

  • JenE
    May 29, 2011 at 7:19 am

    I love you I love you I love you. And I have come to the same place in my food journey on my own. And lost 60 pounds along the way. And I feel 1.21 jigawatts times better (a reference from my all time fave movie). Your recipes have been a staple in our meal rotation, thanks for that. I do not love the term “flexitarian” but I that is me and my family. Cheers!

  • belindasky
    May 29, 2011 at 8:05 am

    not to take away from the importance of this discussion, but what is on his hand?

  • Alli
    May 29, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I completely agree — when I first started seeing my current bf, I ate meat maybe 1-2x a week….now, after two years of dating, it’s unfortunately up to 5-6 (yikes!). I don’t think I could ever give up eggs, cheese, or yogurt, but I have definitely been on the lookout for some good vegetarian dishes to replace our boring dinner rotations of meat/starch/veg.

    I actually made the Hungry Girl baked falafel the other night — I was expecting the bf to hate them, but he couldn’t stop raving even after I pointing out that the dinner was vegetarian (vegan, if you didn’t eat the yogurt dill sauce I served them with). Score one for meatless hits!

  • meagan
    May 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    For a counter point to The China Study, the book Meat: A Benign Extravagance by Simon Fairlie is really interesting and offers some provoking insight about meat and sustainability. Also, Gary Taubes, Sally Fallon, Dr. Catherine Shanahan and Dr. Malcolm Kendrick have good books on a variety of aspects of eating meat (cholesterol, health, fat, obesity, nutrition). Some bloggers to look up would be Denise Minger, Stephan Guyenet, Chris Masterjohn and Dr. Michael Eades. Loren Cordain has a YouTube video you can find on an evolutionary based diet; it’s about an hour and very watchable (college-lecture-style) if you’re interested.

    I used to be a vegetarian, and even doing it “right” just gained weight and became sick in several ways. Now I eat mostly Paleo (meat, veggies, pastured dairy, fruit, nuts, seeds) and feel better than I have in years.

    Food is really personal, that’s for sure. I’ve always admired how you’ve been true to yourself on your blog, Jenna!

    • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
      May 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm

      Yes, Jenna – I love the conversation this post has instigated 😉 And whether we agree or disagree – the fact that we’re all here posting so many comments shows just how much we love You and the “ELR” Blog! You’re gifted at what you do and am so glad you share your life stories with us 😉

  • lisa
    May 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I’m sorry to be calling you out on this – but I would think by now you and I included would have all come to realize that “everything in moderation” is how things really work. Which is why when you try to make cute/funny statements on cupcakes and swear you ate ‘x’ number of something or half a pan and such make no sense to me because we are all trying to get by with fun and healthy- both in moderation. And yes, food is personal.

  • Mel
    May 30, 2011 at 5:41 am

    I went vegetarian almost 2 years ago after learning about the horrors of factory farming. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made! Diet is an individual thing and it’s not my (or anyone’s) place to judge anyone else for their diet choices, but I do wish that everyone would take the time to learn about where their food comes from and what is involved in its production. I love your blog and its abundance of recipes for all lifestyles, and this post was very interesting. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Heather
    May 30, 2011 at 7:55 am

    I am not surprised by the harsh comments. A lot of people do not wish to take a look at their own eating habits, rather they desire to be oblivious.

    But the point is Jenna has every right to make a post like this. I think it’s a very informative post and she made it quite clear that she is not making any claims. And it’s our choice to “take it or leave it” and not take it personally.

    That said– I believe everyone could benefit from a more plant-based diet and if consuming meat purchase organic and grass-fed.

  • Alison
    May 30, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Check out Paul Pritchford’s book Healing with Whole Foods…very interesting on eastern medicine and healing foods.

  • Meghan @ StruggleMuffins
    May 31, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Oh I’m glad you did a recap of the movie, I want to see it so bad! I loved the China Study and while it convinced me to cut back on the amount of animal foods I eat, I also feel better when I have some animal protein in my diet. I like that you acknowledge that food ideology, food preference, and ultimately – food choice – is a highly individual thing. Not everyone can or should be a vegan. Its good to be informed about where food comes from and how its made. Great post!

  • candace
    May 31, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I have said more than once that I could give up meat without too much problem but I can`t live without cheese. 🙂

    My husband is a definite meat eater though so I just try to limit my consumption and be conscious of eating fruits & veggies. I love beans & legumes too.

  • Lauren
    May 31, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Speaking from a VERY unscientific platform, I truly believe that the key to long-term, sustainable health is balance. Not eradicating one food group from your diet completely, or forcing yourself to consume foods you truly don’t like (i.e., tofu — people have very strong opinions about tofu!). Balancing the greens with the lean meats (unless you’re a vegetarian/vegan), sugars, etc. ensures that you’ll be more apt to adhere to a healthy diet for life. In my viewpoint, it’s all about moderation, and striking an equilibrium between the from-nature, makes-intuitive-sense-that-this-is-good-for-you foods and those that are sometimes more questionable. People all too often make drastic changes to their diets — cutting out all meat, for example — because they feel an external pressure to do so, when all they probably really needed to do was scale back on their meat consumption, or supplement it with more vegetables, grains, legumes, etc. Drastic changes rarely keep, because they lead to feelings of deprivation and resentment.

    Long story short, I think the healthiest diet is that leaves you healthy, energetic, and satisfied — and one you can easily envision keeping for life.

  • Beth (Well I'll Be)
    May 31, 2011 at 9:57 am

    That documentary sounds so interesting. The disease in our country truly is baffling. It obviously hit home with Adam, I can’t wait to watch it. That’s an adorable picture of you two!

  • Heidi - Apples Under My Bed
    May 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Great pos, Jennat! I’m working my way, getting my man used to smaller meat serves (not that they’re huge, but really trying to stick to 100-120g). It’s tough though, as I have low iron (despite taking supplements), and find my body craving red meat! Good work you guys! I hope we get this doco over here in Australia!
    Heidi xo

  • Ashley
    May 31, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I really want to see this and read the book! Happy to hear it was good!

  • Carissa
    June 1, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I’ve been reading many books lately that focus on the health benefits of whole foods and eating mostly vegetables. It’s truly changed my life and the way I eat. Knowledge is power!

  • elaine
    June 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    For what it’s worth, the book China Study isn’t really about the China Study. It’s the author’s attempts to twist the actual study data to promote a vegan diet, which the real study data doesn’t support in the least. Who was it that said that quote about lies, damned lies, and statistics…?

    Anyway, I think most people could benefit from less meat and more greens, but that book is absolutely awful. I couldn’t even finish it.

    • Sally
      June 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      I completely agree. I did manage to finish the book several years ago, but was thoroughly disgusted by it. Interestingly, I was following a vegan diet at the time — and switched back to eating meat shortly thereafter.

  • Ally at AGIHK
    June 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I am so excited to read about your journey with food. Lately I have been feeling terrible, completely lethargic and unmotivated- not me at all. I really think it is because I have let some of my healthy eating habits slide. I do believe that the food we eat has a huge impact on our quality of life.

    Gonna get back on the wagon! 🙂

  • Lauri (
    June 17, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I really want to see this movie, wonder if I can find it in my area?!?

    I read *most* of the China study and found it very interesting. However, I don;t recall the book mentioning where the meat came from and if it was organic/grassfed/etc. I personally think that how the animal has been raised/fed has more to do with the risk of developing cancer and other diseases, rather than eating meat itself. There is certainly a HUGE difference between a processed hot dog or a McD’s burger and an organic chicken breast or grassfed steak. Its been several years, so I am planning to read it again over the summertime.

    I do agree that we could all cut back though, we certainly eat wayyyy more protein/meat than we should!

  • Elisa
    September 13, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    So, I’m late to the party, but I finally watched Forks over Knives tonight …. and then threw everything in my fridge with HFCS away. Tomorrow morning I’m going to toss the meat from the freezer.

    I’ve been eating meat less and less, but this documentary was a real eye-opener. Thanks for this post, I had to come back to it and leave my 2 cents 🙂