Is The Game Changers really a game changer for the plant-based movement?
18 September 2019
This week saw the long-awaited release of new feature-length documentary, The Game Changers, produced by and starring a line-up of A-list plant-based celebrities and athletes. With James Cameron as Executive Producer and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic, and Jackie Chan among others, this documentary was always going to attract attention.
The Game Changers bills itself as ‘a revolutionary new documentary about meat, protein, and strength’. The film seeks to challenge the ‘protein myth’, answering the most frequently asked question to those following a plant-based diet: “So, where do you get your protein?”
The film provides a response to this question by showcasing high-profile athletes, including Olympians, NFL players, boxers, weightlifters, and bodybuilders. Some of the film’s everyday heroes include Schwarzenegger, Formula 1 Champion Lewis Hamilton, and world-record-holding strongman Patrik Baboumian, as well as leading scientists. The film follows former Ultimate Fighter and elite Special Forces trainer James Wilks as he travels the world to uncover the optimal diet for human performance. What he finds may surprise many people who have been told repeatedly by friends, family, and society that eating meat increases our strength and performance – he discovers that, in fact, the most optimal diet for performance and athletic recovery is one which is fully plant-based.
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As we travel with Wilks on his journey, we meet other elite athletes, as well as firefighters and soldiers, and learn that plant-based diets do not impact negatively on performance at all – in fact, the opposite is true. All of the athletes featured talk explicitly about how the move to a plant-based diet dramatically increased their performance. As proof of this fact, we witness mind-blowing feats of strength and performance.
The film also forces us to rethink other things we thought we knew. It shows how science is now discovering that Roman Gladiators were, in all likelihood, predominantly vegetarian, that our teeth are specifically not geared towards eating meat, that our bodies process meat ineffectively, and that plant protein is better than animal-based protein.
One quote from the documentary sticks out – from strongman Patrik Baboumian, who says, “One person asked me how can you get as strong as an ox without eating meat? And my answer was, ‘have you ever seen an ox eating meat?’”
Meat, Masculinity, and Marketing
Another issue that film tackles well is the concept of ‘meat and masculinity’, breaking down the old-fashioned concept that ‘real men eat meat’. This seems to be the first time this has been tackled on the big screen and the film shows adverts and narratives from the recent past that reinforce these stereotypes. We learn how meat and dairy have been explicitly marketed to us as ‘macho’, good for us, and a source of strength. The film goes on to revisit the exact sources of the original myths and shows how they have been completely debunked by science.
So why The Game Changers, and why now?
It seems that more people are waking up to the benefits of plant-based diets and/or reducing their reliance on meat. Many of us are already aware of the huge environmental impact of animal agriculture, as well as its link to land loss and greenhouse gas emissions, but these facts alone aren’t always enough for people to think about reducing or eliminating their meat consumption. There are other reasons why people might not want to go plant-based or reduce their meat intake. These are usually linked to concerns about health, getting enough protein, and performance. The Game Changers is going to change the way we look at meat.
If the film set out to achieve some myth-busting about health, strength, and meat consumption, then it definitely does the job. If the film set out to change habits and dietary choices – well for that, we’ll just have to wait and see.
While currently on limited cinema release globally, it’s likely that not many mainstream audiences will see the film until it hits Netflix or Amazon, and that’s when change can happen. Regardless of whether you eat animal products or not, The Game Changers is a fascinating and eye-opening documentary that will appeal to a broad audience.
At ProVeg, we work with a variety of stakeholders to help people eat less animal products, working towards our mission to reduce the global consumption of animal products by 50% by 2040.
ProVeg welcomes and supports films like The Game Changers, which bring the message of meat reduction to a huge global audience.
ProVeg is a leading international food awareness organisation working across four continents, with ongoing plans for future expansion. We are a fast-growing organisation with global reach and ambition.