In our last Friday Trifecta newsletter, I tasked our readers to watch the documentary, Game Changers on Netflix. Game Changers was produced by James Cameron, a Hollywood screenwriter and producer best known for his epic films like The Terminator, Titanic and Avatar that shook the world. His latest Hollywood production in Game Changers, highlights some very well-known and respected athletes that at the time of the documentaries filming (~2012-2018) ate a plant-based diet. Watching this for the first time even had me asking question once I saw the lineup: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Kendrick Ferris, James Wilks, Novak Djokovic, Chris Paul, along with several others. Using some of the big faces, this documentary promotes going plant-based to not only improve your performance, but then does itself a disservice by attacking the other side by arguing eating meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy (foods that “hinder your athletic performance”) will also promote heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, erectile dysfunction and endothelial dysfunction. Claims that are not supported by any credible scientific evidence and were completely irresponsible for them to make and should upset anyone who watched it.
Before getting too deep into this review, I want to make it clear I am taking a neutral standpoint and not promoting either Veganism or a Carnivore diet. I’m on #TeamAvocado. I think one thing both sides can agree on is that the elimination of refined processed carbohydrates and sticking to as real, whole food as possible is the healthiest way to live. The biggest difference between the two is where the protein source is coming from. The reason I have even considered writing this is because of the number of people that have reach out to me for my opinion and the heads that this documentary has turned in our community. I will also state that I was plant-based for roughly 10 months, but currently eat a primarily whole foods diet (avoiding many refined processed carbohydrates while still having balance). At NapTown Nutrition we work with each client on an individual level to develop a customized plan for them based on their lifestyle, goals and foods they currently eat. We work with many vegetarians, vegans and many more that eat a combination of meat and plants.
Documentaries are great for many reasons. They help educate on certain topics in our society that most people are curious about and done so in a very exciting and effective way. Some, much flashier than others to get their point across can grab the attention of many of its viewers and get them to take immediate action. Because of this, documentaries have the ability to change a person’s life because of the dramatizations or information (misinformation) that is conveyed during the documentary. In this particular documentary, it has done just that for many people.
Documentaries can however have many issues. They typically are one sided with an agenda and not very reliable because of that. The propaganda and biased sources (media and athletic influencers, physicians and ‘experts’) used within documentaries help drive home their one-sided arguments making it look like there is no other option. Taking a deeper look into the creation of Game Changers, we see it may have been given life from another documentary, “Forks Over Knives”. Director of Game Changers, James Cameron, owns a plant-based protein company called Verdient Foods. Directly on their website is says “The Cameron’s watched the documentary film “Forks Over Knives” and their understanding of healthy eating immediately shifted.” Since watching a single documentary, the Cameron’s changed their lives and now have impacted millions of others.
Some great things this documentary was able to accomplish was to get people curious about their own personal nutrition. It got a lot of people asking questions and starting down the path of their own nutritional journey. If an individual that viewed this documentary was eating the Standard American Diet (“SAD” – diet including the intake of pre-packaged foods, fried foods, refined grains, corn (and high-fructose corn syrup) and high-sugar drinks) and then switched to a Whole-Foods plant based diet eliminating the latter, they will without doubt experience first hand some amazing results that simply comes with cutting out sugar, preservatives, refined processed carbohydrates and trans fat that can have on your mind and body. That is a HUGE WIN! However, some things the documentary did poorly at was misconvey very important information as mentioned in the above paragraphs.
Rather than myself going in to prove or debunk this documentary, I challenge you to listen to both side with an open mind to form your own conclusion. Some trusted resources I’ve found interesting are: Dr. Shawn Baker’s full review and check out Zoe Harcombe, Ph.D. whom was a 20 year vegan on Julie Foucher Podcast, Pursuing Health on the general health of vegan vs. plant-based with meat. On the other side, check out Gil Carvalho MD PhD, fact check video. Also here is James Wilkes himself debunking some of the criticisms of The Game Changers. Lastly vegan body builder, Nimai Delgado, body builder whom has never had meat.
As an experienced and educated health coach in fitness and nutrition for going on a decade I wish I could share more documentaries with people that could properly educated them on the basics of nutrition. One of my favorites to share is Fed Up. Although I admit, documentaries can be a lot more convincing than me at times, put James Cameron behind it and I will lose every time. If the message of Game Changers was shifted from putting meat in a bad light to simply eat more plant-based foods, this would have hit a home run on both sides of the fence. Spreading the truth is so much more important than choosing one side based on your agenda and defending it by putting down the other is not the answer. Yes, conventional mass meat and fish farming by big food is killing our planet, as is mass production of grains with those farming practices and chemicals used.
Educating yourself on where your food is sourced can be one of the most liberating things you do in your life. Having that type of control over what is going into your body is one of the most ultimate decisions you can make. As you continue down your own personal wellness journey, know that there is a right and wrong way to do every ‘diet’ and it is important to spend the time educating yourself or work with a personal nutrition coach to help guide you along the way. You should not be receiving your nutritional guidance from google, Wikipedia, social media or even documentaries backed by an individual who owns one of the worlds largest plant-based supplement companies. Look for credible sources and what agenda they may have along with the best scientific research that is available is a great place to start.
Whichever you choose to start or even continue your nutritional journey with, continue to educate yourself on: the nutrients that are going (or not going) into your body, sustainability, sourcing & farming practices, how your body responds to the foods you’re eating, the physical and emotional response and performance.
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