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The Game Changers Documentary Review
Debunked or Not?

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The Game Changers is a documentary that has been overwhelmingly well-received by most and opened the dialogue surrounding vegan athletes looking to gain strength from eating proteins sourced on a plant-based diet.

But it is far from without criticism.

Many in the industry and professionals around the globe are used to meat and dairy being the undisputed king and queen when it comes to protein sources.

The Game Changers wants to change opinion but has been met with a lot of resistance and criticism.

Let's get stuck into a review of some of the significant claims and facts that the movie cites and see just how much truth it takes to become one of The Game Changers.

What It Gets Right

The documentary is one that prides itself on well researched and peer-reviewed studies. The rate that it flashes text and links to sources and scientific analysis is, at times, dizzying.

Here are the pieces of information about eating a vegetarian or vegan diet and the science that backs them up.

Masculinity

The Game Changers is seeking to break the myths that are held by athletes, bodybuilders, gym bunnies, and health professionals regarding protein, muscle mass, testosterone, and strength.

To do this, they first have to shatter a lot of science and misinformation that has built up over a long time during which eating animal products has been the norm.

To target their message and achieve their goal, the documentary is overtly "masculine" with a great deal of time being spent building up the image and idea of big, butch, manly men performing incredible feats of fierce strength and athletic prowess.

It's crucial to combat the stereotypes and tropes built up with terms such as "soy-boy" and review the connotations that go with it.

man watching his shadow

The Game Changers spends time interviewing doctors and professionals on the relationship between testosterone and eating a plant-based diet.

While previously most would have assumed, and many insisted that soy intake and a vegan or vegetarian would lower testosterone and make you less "manly," the science and evidence seems to be pointing in favor of the inverse being true [1] [2].

Viability

Vegan eople at gym

To dispel the myth that you cannot compete with animal products for protein at a professional level, The Game Changers brings in athletes from many different fields and focuses on showing just how strong and competitive they genuinely are.

While the critics may claim that the majority of their input, advice, and testimony are all anecdotal and lacking in substance.

The fact remains that there is an ever-growing number of athletes who are achieving the same if not better results by ditching animal protein and following vegan or vegetarian diets.

While there are a growing number of scientific studies that go a long way to proving that the effects of plant-based proteins are every bit as healthy and effective as animal protein [3]​.

​The documentary has done a great job of pulling a broad range of information on the subject of vegan and vegetarian diets from a lot of different sources and presenting citation and reference. It has offered the plant-based diet as an option to be accepted, not as a mandate. 

​I found this video did a great job going into some more detail ...

Sustainability

For many, the environmental effects caused by a meat-centric diet and the unsustainability of that in the long term is a major reason for eating more plants. This is a strong argument in favor of the vegan diet, and the science behind it is relatively bulletproof [4].

​Proving that we can exist and excel on a plant-based diet is the main focus of this film, and backing this up with irrefutable science and study lends a great deal of weight.

However, only a short amount of screentime is spent exploring the green argument, and even less is allowed to the ethical reasons behind a vegan or vegetarian diet.

This was done deliberately with the documentary shying away from the v-titles entirely in favor of the title of a plant-based diet to make it seem more accessible to a wider audience. 

While those decisions make sense cutting down the run-time and honing the film with a simpler and more marketable message, and it does detract a little from the argument when the reasons behind the vegan movement with the most scientific consensus are side-lined.

holding plant in hands

Science

molecules

Looking back to the past is a great way to learn about who we are today. The documentary begins by examining the habits and diets of the most famous professional athletes on the planet, the gladiators [5].

With its focus on MMA and competitive sports, it makes sense for the film to start here. In an interesting study based on archaeological findings, it is proposed that the roman gladiators existed diets primarily focused on plants.

Later on, the documentary looks into the science of our biology that suggests more plants in our omnivorous diet than many (especially those that eat meat or on the paleo diet) would have you believe [6]

Another area in which the documentary excels at presenting information of sound quality and importance is that of health. Interestingly, a day before the documentary released, a study hit the mainstream media that claimed red meat and processed meat were not as bad for you as they were reported to be.

To anyone with the inclination and intelligence to look, the study had obvious red flags and has been widely criticized by the scientific community [7]. In contrast, the lead author has been shown to have previous ties with the food industry [8].

​The effects of these foods as known cancer risks and their impact in regards to heart disease remains a scientific fact with resounding evidence to back it up.

​The film provides its audience with an alternative protein source to animal proteins and one that can work just as well with the added benefit of being friendlier to the planet as well as your health.


What It Gets Wrong

With any documentary, facts can indeed get skewed, and conscious or unconscious bias can mean you are only painted half the picture.

This documentary has a very obvious and plain to see leaning towards that of the vegans' diet being beneficial to health and performance, and so some of what it sets out to achieve is at times dulled by the way it sets out in doing it. Let's look a little deeper.

Tone

As mentioned above, the documentary should be commended for using loose terminology and avoiding, for the most part, painting the issue as vegans vs. non-vegans.

By not plastering those labels and ideals so blatantly, it does a good job of inviting a more casual or interested audience into at least trying out or listening to the argument for a plant-based diet.

However, by doing right, you can still be seen by many to be doing wrong. In skirting the issue to focus on the science and health benefits of the diet, it is criticized by both the plant-based community and the meat eaters as seeming a little wishy-washy.

veg and meat

At the beginning of the documentary, James Wilks tells us a little of his fascination with Bruce Lee. As a former MMA fighter himself, it's understandable his idol would be one that mixes different martial arts.

The film itself quotes Bruce Lee, and it's a very important piece of advice whether applied to martial arts, competitive sports, or when being presented with new information of any kind.

Text

script writing with pen

We have looked a little into the science that the documentary has got right or at least mostly right. However, the scientific community is one of discourse evaluation and constant reassessment.

While the arguments and studies presented by the documentary do have cited references to back them up, it is also true that many conclusions are cherry-picked or ignore articles and reviews that may contradict their findings.

Take the introduction on the gladiators as one example; this is an abstract based on findings and implies they had a carb-heavy diet with calcium supplements and possibly ate less meat than the average citizen. It does not conclude that they were all super-powered vegans, as the documentary might imply. 

There is also the "experiments" on the three athletes and comparison between their blood and erectile strength eating bean vs. meat burritos. These studies do not account for any other possible variables; they may make for compelling evidence and work on screen.

Still, they don't constitute an airtight argument, nor would the blood samples hold up to scrutiny in a lab.

Tactics

Another criticism lobbied against the documentary is that a vast majority of the people funding and making this film have vested interests in the plant-based market.

A valid counter-argument is that they are simply putting their money where their mouth is and practicing what they preach by investing in what they believe in.

Still, even so, it should be noted that the producer and executive producer James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron are the founders of Verdient Foods, an organic pea protein company.

In a similar vein, all of the doctors and experts featured have some affiliation with a product or service promoting the plant-based diet.

money plant

Of the professional athletes we watch interviewed on the screen like Arnold Schwarzenneger, Venus Williams, Patrik Baboumian, and even the presenter James Wilks, their input is labeled by critics as merely anecdotal and not valid data.

While it proves that it is possible to achieve great things following a vegan diet, it doesn't necessarily mean it is better for your health or heart, just that is is an equal or viable alternative to animal protein. 

​Final Thoughts

The World Health Organisation recommends "a nutritious diet based on a variety of foods originating mainly from plants, rather than animals." The Game Changers does a great job of presenting a counter-argument to the meat-centric narrative and science that has been primarily funded by an industry looking after its interests for years. 

The criticisms lobbied against it are mostly from personalities and entities who are in denial or resistant to being told that their diet or eating habits might be harmful to them or the world around them.

When held up to any real scrutiny, they mostly fall apart, Dr. James Loomis rebuttal to a piece published in the Men's Health is an excellent example of that. [9]

A plant-based diet is not only a healthy and viable alternative to the average citizen, but it can work for professional athletes and competitive sports enthusiasts as well. The Game Changers is by no means perfect.

Still, it does a great job at smashing some of the myths to do with plant-based protein and its efficacy in professional sports, the relationship to "masculinity" and testosterone, and its benefits for heart health.

Watch it with an open mind and weigh the data against your findings and beliefs. 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2400756
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19496976/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4042376/
  4. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6392/987
  5. https://archive.archaeology.org/0811/abstracts/gladiator.html
  6. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/human-ancestors-were-nearly-all-vegetarians/
  7. https://www.plantbasednews.org/lifestyle/experts-slam-study-red-meat-healthy
  8. https://www.plantbasednews.org/science/red-meat-sudy-financial-ties
  9. https://medium.com/@drjamesloomis/my-beef-with-the-mens-health-review-of-the-game-changers-65826d389859
Hey, I'm Jason and welcome to my website. I created VeganLiftz because of my passion (more like obsession) with the vegan diet, strength training, and bodybuilding. Feel free to peruse the various articles on this website; I hope you find something useful!