Chow Down


A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Film Director Julia Grayer asking me to review her movie, “Chow Down” on my blog. It’s not often I get an email from a film director (okay, so this was the first time). I was flattered and more than happy to take the time to share this review with you.

The Usual Suspects:

Usual SuspectsProminent Authorities from the plant-based community star in this film

Dr. Caldwell EsselstynAuthor of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Also known as the Physician that turned former President, Bill Clinton, into a vegan. 

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, The Nutritarian Doctor. His book,Eat to Livemay be the greatest weight loss book ever written.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Author ofThe China Study“, the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted in relation to diet, cancer and disease.

Dr. Neal Barnard, President and founder of the PCRM (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) and author of many health books.

The Story Line:

chow down families

Three very sick patients adopt a plant-based diet in order to overcome their serious health issues. I want you to watch the film, so I won’t give you the outcomes (you can guess it’s gonna be good, eh?) Let’s just say the evidence that diet can reverse disease is overwhelming to the affirmative.

The Discussion:

Here’s some obstacles to eating plant-based that are brought up by characters in the film. I don’t feel like these obstacles were adequately addressed or solved when the film finished, to the point that those who watch the film may not be willing to give a plant-based diet a try. I thought you might like to chime in with me regarding these ideas:

Chow DownDoesn’t taste good? Wrong!

1- Eating a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet is hard/doesn’t taste good/and is limiting.

I eat a greater variety of foods and prepare more flavorful meals then I have ever done in my life since adopting a plant-based diet. If it doesn’t taste good, you’re doing it wrong.

2- It costs too much.

Maybe. I admit I spend more on groceries now than I used to. However, the additional amount I’m spending costs me far less than the monthly medications I used to have to take. It also costs less than health care for cancer, heart disease or diabetes. 

3- I can’t do it because I don’t have a support system.

Bull. Even if you don’t personally know anyone else following a plant-based diet, you can get online and find support groups. Hey, I even belong to two on facebook. Dr. McDougall and Dr. Barnard also have fantastic plans for starting out.

4- My family won’t eat a plant-based diet with me.

Um, my family does. Yours can too. Start with plant-based reproductions of the meals you’re used to eating. Help to educate your family about the benefits of eating a whole foods plant-based diet.  My family begs me for green smoothies and even my youngest will eat most anything I prepare. We’re in it together and we love it. It may take some time, but your family can love it too.

Watch the Movie and Join the Conversation:

Chowdown Poster D

It’s available to watch free here on Hulu. Or you can watch it on Amazon Prime here without commercials for $2.99. It’s also available for purchase on Amazon here.



  1. Is it just me or are all of those Dr.s pointy people? I bet I can’t watch it from Australia ;). Oh well…at least it has it’s heart in the right place 🙂

    1. If you mean thin, then yes! They’re all thin. All are also incredibly physically active. Biking, running, skating, etc. I don’t know if Hulu is available in Australia…. Might be worth a try?

  2. I look forward to watching this movie! Thank you for the review. This may be a good movie to watch with some family members who believe that they “need” meat to survive (yet complain bitterly of all their ailments!). 🙂

  3. I will see if I can find this on Netflix. I wanted to comment on the cost too much argument. Some organic is more expensive; however, you often spend less than many other people because meat is no longer in the budget. I am still working on getting some of the junk food out, but that is another item that costs money and is a savings when you either don’t spend it or use it in the produce section.

    1. I found it on Netflix, but it’s not available on DVD yet or instant viewing, it has a “save” button…whatever that means.

      Thanks for chiming in on the costs too much argument. I think many find they can spend less when they stop purchasing meat, which is fantastic.

      My problem is that I purchase mostly organic and I buy insane amounts of produce, but that’s only really a problem financial wise. In every other way, I pretty much love it!

  4. I am definitely a meat eater and don’t plan on going back to being a veg BUT I do appreciate the concept of a plant based diet. I definitely find myself totally happy and content with meals sans meat. I think that by doing a vegan month and many years of vegetarian that I have an edge in the kitchen because I know all meals don’t need meat as a main star!

  5. Nice review! I watched this sometime last year. I started to say something but will hold back, as I too would like everyone to watch it. Plant based is not always easy, and there I a learning curve. But I am convinced it is the only way.

    1. Thanks! I can’t believe I hadn’t heard about the film until Julia emailed me. There’s definitely a learning curve to going 100% plant based. I admit it was a good couple of months before I felt like I really got a handle on things in the kitchen, but then again, I went cold tofurky, which made it tricky, but I’m so glad I did! 🙂

  6. Too expensive? I don’t think so! Beans are way cheaper than meat or cheese, and frozen greens are a great bargain. The transition can be expensive, as you end up trying a lot of new foods, and many people start out relying on a certain amount of processed convenience foods, but once you get the hang of it, eating is much less costly. In fact, part of the focus of my writing is just how easy and cheap eating plants can be!

    1. Penny! Your points are so spot on. Anne Esselstyn discusses some of the same ideas in the film. Grains and legumes are as cheap as cheap can be! My problem is my organic produce habit… And it’s a lot of organic produce going down in this house 🙂

  7. It’s interesting to find that eating a plant-based diet is so anathema to many. Then to many others, they’re like “Duh, we’ve know this for a long time!” Necessity is a mother & it was out of necessity that I changed my diet. After spending thousands on doctors & chiroptactors, none of whom addressed my chronic pain, inflammation & arthritis issues (suffered for YEARS!) from a dietary standpoint, I had to do it on my own. I read A LOT & compare notes with many different people who’ve suffered much more than I before making beneficial changes which yielded, in most cases, immediate relief from their maladies. It’s an “ah ha!” moment I certainly can live with. Now that I rarely eat meat, my grocery bills have actually gone down & the varieties of foods I do consume have increased exponentially. Love your website, by the way. Great info which I use daily, thanks!!!

    1. Jewel, it’s incredible the healing power that is found in plants. I’m so glad that you’ve been able to get rid of your chronic health issues. As you know, I’m right there with you. I can’t even calculate the costs of my previous medical care without feeling absolutely sick about it. It’s such an incredible thing to not have that burden any more. Thanks for your thoughts about groceries and the increased variety in your diet!

  8. Well done! And kudos to you and Ms. Unrefined Vegan for being asked to promote this docu. Due to the type of content I blog about, no one will ever ask me to do something like this. Ha-Ha.

    That aside, Last November, I read the following books: *Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman* (you had recommended this book to me) and *Reversing Diabetes by Dr. Barnard* (and no, I’m not a diabetic). Despite having been a vegan for almost 2 years (I read these two books 2 months shy of my 2 year vegan anniversary) both books had a huge impact on me. I knew choosing a vegan lifestyle was the right thing to do for my health and the animals but I had no idea just how good until I read those two books. The skeptics, especially those battling diabetes, should read Dr. Barnard’s book on Reversing Diabetes. You cannot deny the evidence and the research.

    I feel better now than when I was in my 30s. Prior to becoming a vegan, I was a dairy-eating vegetarian and let me tell you, removing dairy from my diet was the best thing I could have ever done. Now, when I see dairy products: cheese, ice cream, et al. I am repulsed by it. In fact, I can no longer recall what dairy tastes like.

    Any hoo, thanks for being such a tremendous source of valuable information and recipes Somer. Due to my heavy work schedule, long hours, long commute I rely on talented bloggers like you to give me recipe ideas so I can eat healthy during the work week. Yesterday I made vegan chili and vegan pumpkin bread. Yum!


    p.s. I have yet to tackle Annie’s seitan recipe. 😦

    1. I think her and I might have been sisters in another life 😉 Eat to live is so incredible. I’m re-reading it at the moment. Fuhrman is incredible. I haven’t read Dr. Barnard’s book yet, but sent it to a friend who is suffering from Diabetes. I would trust these men with my health for sure. So glad I can be of assistance to you Susan, it’s the reason I blog. To show people that a healthy vegan diet can be delicious and healing. Much love girl! xx
      p.s. seitan can wait, but man it’s a good one!

  9. I can’t wait to see it!
    you are so right, plant-based recipes are delicious! I would never compromise on taste – it has to be tasty, delicious and beautiful – and it is! I love my mostly plant-based diet and could never go back! I adore the taste and I am in love with the way I feel when I eat this way.
    Thank you for a great review Somer!!

    1. I think that when we’re more in tune with our bodies and we feed ourselves the right foods, our bodies can’t help but rejoice! Plant-based eating can be everything you say! Delicious and beautiful without compromise. Hope you enjoy the film my dear! xx

  10. Forgot to say that I am saving lots of money because I no longer need my expensive cholesterol medication, high blood pressure medication and medication for Meniere’s disease 🙂

  11. “I eat a greater variety of foods and prepare more flavorful meals then I have ever done in my life since adopting a plant-based diet. If it doesn’t taste good, you’re doing it wrong.” Oh Lady, you know it!!!!! That would be me as well.
    As for costing more…well I don’t buy $7-10 of meat for every dinner anymore, so I have plenty of cash for veggies and fruit 😉

    1. Thanks for singing with the choir! Meat is expensive, and most people eat it more than once a day….

      I’ve always been a hefty spender on groceries though, I guess I just use eating well as an excuse for the really good stuff 🙂 xx

  12. It’s awesome that you were asked to review a film..congrats:) on point#4, my husband is a carnivore while my daughter and I are lacto-ovo vegetarians. He eats lunch at work..can eat anything he wants so he doesn’t complain during dinner and weekends:)

  13. My husband and I have been eating a whole, plant-based diet since 2010. The biggest surprise has been how much our taste buds have adjusted. Our cravings for meat, cheese, eggs, rich desserts, and high fat meals has gone away. We’ve learned to enjoy eating huge salads–about half of our calories come from fresh fruits and vegetables. We get our remaining calories from legumes, boiled grains, rolled oats, yams, potatoes, Winter squash, and occasionally tofu. We don’t use oil, sugar, or flour. I’ve learned to keep food prep simple and avoid complicated recipes. Simple foods that seemed boring at first, become more appealing over time. We’ve found this way of eating less expensive. I save a lot of money by omitting all the packaged convenience foods and cooking everything from scratch. Dry beans, lentils, chickpeas, and brown rice are very filling, relatively cheap, and simple to prepare. I even make my own soy milk–which is less expensive than cow’s milk. We both dropped all our excess weight and have found it easy to maintain BMI’s of 20. We no longer need any medications. The advantages of whole, plant-based eating are so dramatic that we are inspired to stick with it for life.

  14. so cool that you were asked to review a movie! thats one goo review. i love your take on the usual points..:)
    most points re easier as a family for us coz we were mostly vegetarian. So it was mostly eliminating some cheese and milk. As for the friend circle, their point is, we dont care and we dont want to do it.

  15. I’ll watch it on Amazon Prime this next week for sure. I wouldn’t miss any film with a cast line-up such as that.

    WOW! So cool that the directors think your the stuff! It’s about time they came around to what we lowly bloggers have known all along. Kudos, little lady. And keep up the truly good work you’re doing here. 🙂

    PS — I sent you an email. Did you get it?

    PPS — Listened to another superb Diane Rehm hour on “How Processed Food Took Over the American Diet.” Insightful.

  16. That’s a great review Somer! I completely agree with you too….I’ve never eaten more of a variety of food or delicious food than I do now. I also get EXCITED about cooking everytime I get in the kitchen. I feel good about what I’m eating…I think that’s a big part of it too.

  17. Looks like another important ‘must-watch’ Somer! I love the point about investing in a higher grocery bill now – which is an investment in the future for sure. So happy to see such important work coming out about the change that is needed to the average diet. I’ll pick it up soon!

  18. Thanks for letting us know about this film, Somer! I watched it on hulu. I agree with the points you made. It is hard to describe my joy over eating plant-based to others in a way that they will actually believe because of the brain washing (for lack of a better word) that we have all been exposed to in this country over the supposed benefits of eating animal products. I am just so grateful that I know how incredibly delicious and health promoting a whole food, plant based diet really is. I LOVE everything about it and have never felt better about my food choices in my life. I just try to be the best example I can and my husband, my kids and my in laws are now all eating this way as well and some of my nieces and nephews. It just makes me happy!

  19. I definitely enjoyed both the movie and your review. As a newbie vegetarian and now on a juice fast then becoming vegan after the fast is over, I’ve seen so many changes in myself over the last year since changing my lifestyle for the better. My energy levels, overall attitude, clarity in my decisions, and the list goes on. I agree that they didn’t address the issue of vegan based diets being boring which is unfortunate because I have never enjoyed food as much as I did once I became vegetarian, I felt like I discovered a whole new world of possibilities and once I’m off the juice fast I feel like being vegan will have the same impact in my life and continue to broaden my view on life. One thing I realize most people may not consider initially is why are we so attached to comfort food? Yes it may be all we’ve ever known but the truth is that we completely miss the opportunity to expand our horizons outside of ourselves ultimately by putting our health first.

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