I recently had the opportunity to watch The Game Changers, a documentary on Netflix about the benefits of a plant-based diet. The film follows UFC fighter, James Wilks, journey of discovery about nutrition as he is recovering from a sports injury. He is introduced to a slew of new information about the benefits of a vegan diet, but must first overcome the doubts and years of “indoctrination” about the benefits of eating animal-based proteins as part of an elite athlete’s diet. The film makes extensive use of the stories of other elite athletes (including Arnold Schwarzenegger–one of the producers) who have followed a plant-based diet for a while. There are also segments featuring doctors, clinicians, and experts shedding light not only on the scientific data, but also the political and social aspects of the issue. A global switch to a plant-based diet would have huge implications for the environment and the economy.
The film was eye-opening in many ways, but also confirmed what I have read in other places. I myself am a pescatarian–meaning I do not eat poultry or red meat; I do eat fish (although not any crustaceans), as well as dairy products and eggs. I did not make the change for health reasons, but I did find that my switch to a more plant-based diet coincided with my first successes at competitive athletic events such as triathlons and 5k runs. I have competed in obstacle course races and half-marathons as well–mostly over the age of 50–without fueling up on meat and poultry beforehand. The film had me wondering about ways that I can cut even more animal-based products from my diet.
The film is definitely worth a view, but go into it with an open mind. The documentary definitely has its point of view but presents it in a non-judgmental way. One criticism of the film is that much of the story line focuses on anecdotal evidence, albeit rather convincing. It is often backed up with scientific studies, but there may be a need for more of them to really confirm the film’s thesis. Another criticism is that there should have been more information and guidance about what a healthy plant-based diet should look (and taste) like; peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread are plant-based, but I would not recommend it as a staple day in and day out.
Overall, I found this film to be thought-provoking…and even action-provoking.