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Beltsville Church Hosts Film Screening Promoting Vegetarianism

By Taashi Rowe

Although it won’t hit theaters until March, Forks Over Knives—a film exploring the benefits of consuming a whole, plant food diet—is already generating excitement among Seventh-day Adventists. The Potomac Adventist Book and Health Food Store worked with the Beltsville (Md.) church to host a screening of the film on Sunday. The film tracks the work of Colin Campbell, PhD, a nutritional scientist at Cornell University, and Caldwell Esselstyn, Md., top surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic. Both men found that those who reduced or eliminated the amount of animal products in their diets could reverse and even prevent certain lifestyle-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Shown in the Beltsville church’s sanctuary, some 300 attendees followed the lives of several people, including the filmmaker, who saw drastic improvements in their health when they adopted a plant-based diet. Joey Aocin had dozens of health problems and needed nine pills and two shots each day. With the guidance of a medical doctor, Aocin spent eight weeks on a whole plant food diet. He lost more than 20 pounds, saw increased energy and no longer required his expensive medications.

After the screening, Pamela Popper, ND, who was featured in the film, took to the floor to answer audience questions about the connection between drinking cow’s milk and osteoporosis, concerns about soy and the cost-effectiveness of a vegan diet. Attendees also sampled food from a local vegan café.

When the producers approached the Potomac Adventist Book and Health Food Store about showing this film, manager Lisa Myaing jumped at the opportunity. “People come to our store daily seeking information on how they can improve their health so it was exciting to see the [Seventh-day Adventist] health message coming out in a well-designed, scientific and well-put-together format,” she said. “It showed medical proof of what we’ve always believed.”

Kermit Netteburg, pastor of the Beltsville church, said screening this film was part of the church’s aim to become a community resource for healthier living and learning about Jesus. “I think it’s kind of fun to hear this movie share what Adventists have always thought in new and different ways,” he said. “It is a reinforcement that Ellen White was, in lots and lots of ways, all right.”

Beltsville members Peggy Harris and her husband, Mel, thought the movie was excellent. “It reinforces things I’ve learned from childhood,” Peggy said. “The plant-based diet has been very beneficial in my life and think it is something we need to get back to. I recommend others see the movie when it comes out.”

Hazel Keyes was one of several attendees who was not a member of the Adventist Church but who has seen the value of limiting meat in her diet. “I came with a friend of mine who had a heart attack and diabetes,” she said. “I stopped eating meat 30 years ago. I do however eat sweets and turkey occasionally. My whole family is diabetic but I’m not and I credit that to stopping eating meat years ago.”

To learn more about the film, visit