Cast and Crew



T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.

castcrew t colin cambell Cast and Crew For more than 40 years, Dr. Campbell has been at the forefront of nutrition research. His legacy, the China Project, is considered the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. Dr. Campbell is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University and project director of the acclaimed China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project. The study was the culmination of a 20-year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine.

Dr. Campbell received his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Cornell and served as a research associate at MIT. He spent 10 years on the faculty of Virginia Tech’s Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition before returning to the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell in 1975, where he presently holds his endowed chair (now emeritus).

Since his graduate training in the late 1950s, his principal scientific interests have been in the effects of nutritional status on long-term health, particularly on the cause of cancer. He has conducted original research in both laboratory experiments and large-scale human studies, has received more than 70 grant-years of peer-reviewed research funding, mostly from the National Institutes of Health, and has served on grant review panels of multiple funding agencies. Dr. Campbell has lectured extensively and has authored more than 300 research papers. He and his son, Thomas M. Campbell II, are authors of the bestselling book, The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health.

Dr. Campbell is the recipient of several awards, both in research and citizenship, and has actively participated in the development of national and international nutrition policy.

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D.

castcrew caldwell esselstyn Cast and CrewDr. Esselstyn received his B.A. from Yale University and his M.D. from Western Reserve University. In 1956, pulling the number-six oar as a member of the victorious United States rowing team, he was awarded a gold medal at the Olympic Games. He was trained as a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and at St. George’s Hospital in London. In 1968, as an army surgeon in Vietnam, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

Dr. Esselstyn has been associated with the Cleveland Clinic since 1968. During that time, he has served as president of the staff and as a member of the board of governors. He chaired the clinic’s Breast Cancer Task Force and headed its section of thyroid and parathyroid surgery.

In 1991, Dr. Esselstyn served as president of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons. That same year he organized the first National Conference on the Elimination of Coronary Artery Disease, which was held in Tucson, Arizona. In 1997, he chaired a follow-up conference, the Summit on Cholesterol and Coronary Disease, which brought together more than 500 physicians and health-care workers in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. In April 2005, Dr. Esselstyn became the first recipient of the Benjamin Spock Award for Compassion in Medicine. He also received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Association in 2009.

His scientific publications number more than 150. “The Best Doctors in America: 1994−1995,” published by Woodward and White, cites Dr. Esselstyn’s surgical expertise in the categories of endocrine and breast disease. In 1995 he published his benchmark long-term nutritional research on arresting and reversing coronary artery disease in severely ill patients. That same study was updated at 12 years, making it one of the longest longitudinal studies of its type. It is most compelling, as no compliant patients have sustained disease progression. Today, 20 years later, compliant patients continue to thrive.

Dr. Esselstyn and his wife, Ann Crile Esselstyn, have followed a plant-based diet for more than 20 years. They work together to counsel patients both in Cleveland, where they live, and in upstate New York during the summer, at the farm where Dr. Esselstyn grew up. Dr. Esselstyn concentrates on the medical details, and Ann focuses on healthy foods and how to prepare them.


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Neal Barnard, M.D.

Dr. Barnard is adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and founder and president of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. He is the author of Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes and other books.

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Junshi Chen, Ph.D.

Dr. Chen is a senior research professor at the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing.

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Connie B. Diekman, MEd, RD, FADA

Connie is director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and former president of the American Dietetic Association.

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David Klurfeld, Ph.D.

Dr. Klurfeld is national program leader, human nutrition for the United States Department of Agriculture.

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Matthew Lederman, M.D., and Alona Pulde, M.D.

Drs. Lederman and Pulde are physicians and founders of Exsalus Health and Wellness Center in Los Angeles, California. They are co-authors of Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole: Your Guide to Optimum Health.

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Doug Lisle, Ph.D.

Dr. Lisle is a psychologist and director of research at the TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa, California. He is co-author of The Pleasure Trap.

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Terry Mason, M.D.

Dr. Mason serves as commissioner for the Department of Public Health in Chicago, Illinois.

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John McDougall, M.D.

Dr. McDougall is an internal medicine physician and founder of Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center in Santa Rosa, California. He has authored The McDougall Plan and numerous other books.

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Pam Popper, N.D.

Pam is founder and executive director of the Wellness Forum in Columbus, Ohio.


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Joey Aucoin

A landscaping company owner, Joey was diagnosed in 2006 with dangerously high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. Joey is a patient of Drs. Matthew Lederman and Alona Pulde.

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Gene Baur

Gene is founder of Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York, a shelter for abandoned and abused farm animals. He is the author of Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food.

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Mac Danzig

A mixed martial artist, Mac has held several world titles. In 2007 he won on the competition reality program The Ultimate Fighter 6 on SpikeTV.

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Rip Esselstyn

Son of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Rip was a collegiate All-American swimmer. After competing professionally in triathlons for 10 years, Rip joined the Austin Fire Department in 1997. Several years later, he spearheaded a stationwide dietary revolution after discovering dangerously high cholesterol levels in a firefighter comrade, resulting in markedly improved health for all. Rip is author of The Engine 2 Diet.

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Ruth Heidrich

Ruth is a six-time Ironman Triathlon finisher who has won more than 900 medals in races around the world, including more than 60 marathons. Now in her 70s, Ruth was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40s, which she reversed through a plant-based diet.

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San’Dera Nation

Living and working in Cleveland, Ohio, San’Dera visits Dr. Esselstyn for guidance in reversing her diabetes and hypertension.

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Evelyn Oswick

After a second heart attack, Evelyn’s severe condition was deemed untreatable by her attending physician. Evelyn agreed to take part in Dr. Esselstyn’s research study at the Cleveland Clinic.

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Anthony Yen

After quintuple bypass surgery failed to resolve his cardiovascular disease, Anthony became part of Dr. Esselstyn’s study at the Cleveland Clinic.


Brian Wendel, creator and executive producer

Brian has had a longtime interest in nutrition and health. In the summer of 2008, having read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, he realized that the scientific case for preventing and even reversing degenerative disease by means of a whole-foods, plant-based diet was greater than he had ever imagined. This concept deserved a “seat at the table” in the national health discussion. Brian decided the most effective way to bring this message to a broad audience was by feature film. He recruited an award-winning veteran production team and spent nearly two years producing Forks Over Knives, his first feature film. His vision for the film was that it be based in science and at the same time provide a moving experience by exploring personal stories and historical elements.

Lee Fulkerson, writer and director

Lee has written, produced, directed, or supervised nearly 170 hours of documentary programming and has won 19 international awards for his work. These include the prestigious CINE Special Jury Award for best broadcast historical program of 2003, network or cable, awarded for his pilot episode of the History Channel series The Color of War. He produced that 17-hour series, as well as the 35-hour The Great Ships series, also for the History Channel. Most recently, Lee wrote The History Channel’s two-hour documentary special, Seven Signs of the Apocalypse. Previously, he was executive producer and head writer of the seven-hour series Showdown: Air Combat for the Discovery Military Channel. He wrote, produced, and directed the 90-minute special The Crash of Flight 191 for the History Channel, and co-wrote The Long March, a two-hour special for History International. Lee also wrote or produced 11 episodes of A&E’s Biography series, including programs on Michelangelo, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. In the realm of fiction, Lee co-wrote the screen story “Ascent” in the television drama series The Dead Zone for the USA Television Network.

John Corry, producer

John’s feature film credits include Universal Studios’ The Rundown, The Ten Commandments, and The Face of Evil: Reinhard Heidrich. He has produced over 200 documentary programs, most recently The Wild Yak Patrol for Animal Planet and The Long March for History International. He created and supervised a number of popular long-running documentary television series, including Safari Tracks for Fox in syndication, The Color of War and Sworn to Secrecy for the History Channel, Celebrity Wings for Discovery Networks, and Weapons at War for the A&E Network. John recently produced several celebrity-narrated short films for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, including campaigns on whale hunting, the Canadian seal hunt, companion animal rescues, and Kenya’s Tsavo National Park wildlife sanctuary. His three-hour television special, The Last Days of WWII, was nominated for an Emmy, and his acclaimed all-color WWII series The Color of War was recognized with the CINE Special Jury Award as the best broadcast historical program of 2003, network or cable.

Allison Boon, co-producer

Allison began working on documentaries in 2003 as an associate producer on the long-running True Hollywood Story series for The E! Network. Allison went on to Actuality Productions’ award-winning History Channel series, Modern Marvels. Within a year, she became director of research and helped develop over 100 hours of programming for networks like the History Channel, National Geographic, and Bravo. She began writing and producing Modern Marvel episodes in 2007, including “Measure It,” “Halloween Tech,” “Traps,” and “It Came from Outer Space.” That same year, Allison joined the field team on Universal’s breakout comedy feature, Bruno.

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