Being Vegan – Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead 2
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
When it comes to movie sequels, I am sure that many are not all that optimistic because we have been disappointed so many times before. There are the exceptions, but rarely does a follow-up movie or sequel reach the level of the first. I write about food more than anything else, but I always say that I am not a food critic in the least bit. I like to think of myself as a food encourager. I enjoy movies a great deal, but I am certainly no movie critic. Perhaps I can apply that same approach that I do with food and restaurants and look at where we can be encouraged from seeing Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead 2, the follow-up to the widely-popular documentary of the same name that was released in 2011.
I really enjoyed the first documentary when I saw it, telling the story of Australian businessman Joe Cross and his 60-day adventure across the United States drinking nothing but juiced fruits and vegetables in an effort to get his health back, talking to and encouraging other people all along the way. It was enjoyable to watch Joe’s journey as he had lost a lot of weight and was able to get off of his medications as the conditions that had been plaguing him were no longer a problem. Juicing had changed his life. He encountered many different people along the way…many who were encouraged by his own journey and were inspired to begin juicing for themselves. Perhaps no more than Phil the truck driver, who became a main part of the first documentary as we saw his life change before us on the screen. He was on a fast road to an early death and needed to lose at least a couple hundred pounds to gain back control. His story within the story became very inspiring and highlighted the power of a juice “reboot” to get on a healthier track in life. The all-juice reboot was designed to be something you did for a length of time to head in a healthier direction and then hopefully incorporate the juicing as a regular part of your daily journey for healthier living.
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead provided some hope that no matter where you were in life, a juice reboot could be a viable help and answer to bring change to your life. In both documentaries, it was also alarming to see and hear the attitudes of many people who just did not seem to care. They knew that they were not in the best of shape and facing a number of health challenges. They would even admit that the food that they were eating was not healthy and probably should not be eating it, but they still chose to. To recognize this and not do anything about it was rather disheartening. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead 2 featured some fun and informative graphics and cartoons to help illustrate the impact that the food that we choose to eat has on our bodies. I think this was actually one of the highlights of the documentary. It also ventured into exploring the psychology of eating and why we eat what do. Joe was very candid about his own struggle to maintain his weight on-going basis and recognized that he was hovering at about twenty pounds more than where he would like to be. The documentary also made its way back to Phil as a follow-up and found that Phil had encountered some low points since the first movie and had actually gained back a good portion of the weight he had originally lost and had fallen back into his old habits.
It was apparent that what Phil had lacked during this time was a real community to help and support him and hold him accountable. Many need this when making a life change like this. With the help of Joe and other rebooters who are now bringing this sense of community to life through social media, there is plenty of help and encouragement available on a daily basis for Phil and others.
I suppose the main challenge that i had with the latest documentary is that it showed that without a lifestyle change, the juice reboot can be like any other diet that can cause you to lose weight but if there is not a shift and lifestyle change around it, it is very easy to fall back into old habits. This is where the yo-yo effect comes from. You can lose weight and gain some health benefit but then gain it right back if there is not a lifestyle change to go with it. Joe admitted that even with regular juicing in his life, only 40% of his diet was plant-based. I just believe that with all of this emphasis on fruits and vegetables and juicing, that this should be a stronger bridge towards a fully plant-based lifestyle. If a little bit can give you great benefit, imagine what a lifestyle that is completely plant-based can do for you? It can completely change your life from a health perspective and also give you some very strong ethical and environmental reasons to continue to thrive in this lifestyle. I think that besides the obvious health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, the rebooters would benefit by knowing that by their actions it was also saving the lives of animals and helping the environment as well. It is very difficult to slip back into old habits when you encounter these powerful truths on a daily basis. It becomes a lot more than just being about you.
I admire Joe Cross for the work that he has done and the bridge that he has built to the mainstream. As Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead 2 clearly shows, he is greatly loved and admired by people all over the world that have been helped by this call to juicing. There were a number of very moving testimonies presented. What I came away with though is that this could all be so much more if people were really being encouraged to live a completely plant-based lifestyle. It only makes sense that if you have only incorporated a part you will only gain a part of the benefit. Why not go all of the way when you are already headed in that direction, for all of the reasons I have already mentioned? I know that in the seven plus years that I have lived a vegan lifestyle with a fully plant-based diet I have encountered nothing but peace, health, and joy from it. Not only has my health thrived, but I have been able to maintain an optimum weight while eating as much of the amazing creations from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes that I desired. It was a bit of a challenge during that first year of my blog when I was eating out at least once every day, but I was quickly able to get back to where I wanted. I also benefit from having an amazing community of people around me that is a great encouragement. The greatest motivator that I have on a daily basis is to know that I am doing all that I can every day for my health, the animals, and the planet. Juicing is great, but it is not the answer by itself. It can be a viable bridge to fully conscious eating and living. Let’s take what we can learn from documentaries like this and let it lead us to where we need to be, a completely vegan and plant-strong lifestyle.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.
Paul‘s revised edition of Eating Vegan Vegas is now available in bound book form and can be ordered through Amazon.com or any independent bookseller. The e-book version can be found at Kobo.com.