We were so excited to get this opportunity to interview the filmmakers of this documentary that literally changed our lives. We were so moved to change our lifestyle after watching “Eating You Alive” that we knew we had to talk to Director and Producer Paul Kennamer, Jr and Co-Producer Merrilee Jacobs to thank them and find out what drove them to create this documentary.
We are very excited to share part 1 of our interview with the filmmakers, Paul and Merrilee.
Interview Questions Part 1
What was your diet and lifestyle prior to moving to a whole food/plant-based lifestyle?
Paul: I’m an Alabama boy, born-and-raised, so meals were always designed around the meat entrée – and I had a serious sugar addiction.
Merrilee: I grew up liking vegetables but wasn’t raised vegetarian, though I had bouts of vegetarianism throughout my life. My huge addiction was dairy, and specifically cheese!
Are you 100% whole food/plant based or do you have “cheat” meals?
Both: We absolutely are all-in, and the reason “cheat” meals don’t offer any temptation is because we know the harm and disease that those things bring. For us, it would be like considering drinking rat poison as a “cheat.” And in all honesty, most often the reason why we would want to “cheat” is driven by addiction. The only challenge at times is being able to avoid the added oils when dining out. We’ve found in our experience that it is often more challenging to eat oil-free in a Vegan restaurant than in a traditional. We’re hoping that as the information about the harmfulness and inflammatory impact of all oils is understood, that vegan restaurants will respond and incorporate menu items that are disease reversing and void of the added oils/refined flours & sugar.
Do you miss some of the non-whole food/plant-based foods?
Paul: To quote Dr. Jimmy Conway (from the film), “I didn’t stop eating steak because it didn’t taste good–I stopped eating it because it was killing me!” I don’t miss any of those foods because the food I eat now is so satisfying in texture and flavors; I enjoy eating as much as I ever have, and even more now because I feel so good!
Merrilee: Again, my big thing was cheese, and fortunately there are a few companies that make non-dairy, oil-free cheeses that I consider my “guilty pleasures” … even though they are actually guilt-free!
Miyoko’s Kitchen makes some great oil-free hard cheeses. Her smoked farmhouse flavor is one of my favorites. Also, the Kite Hill chive cream-style cheese is great in spoonsful dolloped on whole wheat/oil-free crust veggie pizza. It looks like little fresh mozzarella balls – YUM!
The US seems to be the fad diet capital of the world. There have been several other diets that have received acclaim. Why do you think this isn’t as well-known as others?
Merrilee: I think it’s not as well-known because it isn’t a “product”—there are no supplement powders/bars, and it doesn’t promote products produced by the meat and dairy industry; it also reduces the need for pharmaceuticals, so there’s really no big money to be made by anyone as it puts the power to change in the hands of the consumer without requiring anything other than their willingness to change what they put in their grocery cart!
Paul: The other reason is that the whole food/plant-based approach requires responsibility and commitment…and more often than not we’d rather take a pill or drink a shake to achieve our immediate goals. than to change the way we do things long-term. I think if everyone were aware of the power of plants to actually reverse disease, this lifestyle approach would be getting much more attention, and I do believe we’re seeing a shift that way now!
How much research was involved in making this documentary, as it seems to be very thorough and comprehensive?
Merrilee: Several hundred hours! And thank you for the kind words; we hoped that we could present the information in a compelling way and provide enough information to break down initial barriers and invite people to do their own study.
Paul: Our guiding premise was to provide the information that answered the questions we had when we were making this transition, and to target the main questions we get asked by everyone when they are introduced to this information for the first time. Obviously, it was imperative that we include the pioneers of lifestyle medicine who have many years in the research upon which the message of EYA is founded!
We noticed several doctors stated they received little training on nutrition. Were you able to find out why doctors do not get trained on nutrition?
Merrilee: Dr. Michael Greger states specifically why this has been the case – that pharmaceutical companies subsidize and medical schools financially, so of course they have a vested interest in promoting the idea of medications and procedures — there’s a lot of money made in those industries. We’re greatly encouraged, however, as the effectiveness of a whole food/plant-based diet in disease reversal is becoming more widely known. The medical schools are being forced to address and include what they consider “alternative” medicine.
Did any doctors decline to speak and why? Were they told by the AMA or their hospitals not to be interviewed?
Paul: No, we didn’t experience that at all; mostly because we looked for doctors who had been practicing traditional medicine only, but also made the transition themselves. Our intent wasn’t to create or address controversy, as it was to create and communicate a message of hope. The solutions to our health crisis cannot be found in our health systems; the solution is in the hands of every single individual. They are the ones to make and commit to the changes.
In general, is the medical field behind WF/PB lifestyles?
Merrilee: In general, there is still much resistance and disbelief, but we’re seeing a younger generation of medical students who are already geared more towards the various aspects/benefits of a whole food/plant-based diet, including environment and animal compassion.
How powerful are dairy, sugar, and meat, associations?
Both: We spoke with the original author of the McGovern Report- one of the first governmental report addressing dietary guidelines. After hearing all the testimony presented, he wrote up the guidelines and there was a decided recommendation to greatly reduce meat consumption–this was 1976. After the draft was presented, the senators/congressmen started to get calls from their constituents (Cattlemen’s assoc) and the leadership called the author of the draft report and told him he would need to change it. When the author refused, he was told that the report WOULD be changed. The author quit at that point, stating he would not be a part of that, and the McGovern report was edited to soften the recommendations. We can be sure that wherever there is money there is tremendous power.
Part 2 of our interview questions will be posted next week! We can’t wait for you to see the rest of the questions as we dig more into the FDA, marketing and the PB lifestyle. We also highly recommend that you watch the documentary on April 5, 2018 as it’s a one day only screening! This documentary will really make you take a hard look at what you are putting inside your body.
Visit the movie website here: Eatingyoualive.com to get your tickets!