‘The Game Changers’ Review – Controversial or Game Changing?
It’s no secret that the idea of being vegan or plant-based causes quite a divide between people who eat animal products and those who don’t. There has been an ongoing debate about the benefits of a vegan diet and the harm that animal products can have on the human body for many years now. When The Game Changers was released a large number of people began adopting a plant-based diet and praising the producers, but many others heavily criticised it. The film follows MMA fighter James Wilks as he talks to a number of athletes including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lewis Hamilton and the Tennessee Titans team. It addresses the benefits of a plant-based diet and how this affects the performance of athletes, compared to a diet with animal products. It was released in 2018 but started a large amount of controversy when it was placed on Netflix towards the end of 2019 gaining a wider audience.
I first looked at the documentary after a friend of mine claimed they were going vegan after watching. I thought that if a show on Netflix could make you change your mind about the way you eat it must carry a strong message. So while watching I did some research and straight away it became apparent a lot of people didn’t agree with sentiments that were being shown. Among the criticisms on the documentary was research bias surrounding the funding, producers and many of the cast. You can see the full list here. With the documentary being backed and supported by seemingly only people who are vegan or plant-based, it caused a lot of criticism and has been labelled ‘vegan propaganda’ by many.
As the documentary progresses we watch athletes participate in a number of blood work tests. One experiment is labelled a ‘non-scientifically validated’ study, and the tests are only taken on a very small group of male elite athletes. This leaves the audience with a very biased view. The test was conducted by MD Aaron Spritz who is the renowned author of The Penis Book. He looks at the effects of eating meat or being plan-based has on male erections over the span of two nights. Had we not been told this wasn’t a validated experiment I would never have known. I don’t feel as though this takes away from the information as the experiment is still being conducted professionally.
One of the biggest controversies throughout is the use of the term plant-based. At no point throughout are we made aware what percentage of these diets are plants and what is animal products. Being plant-based does not mean you’re vegan. The documentary does lead you to believe however that most of the subjects have removed animal products completely from their life. Referring to them as plant-based creates confusion as it is not clear what part of their diet is fuelling these massive breakthroughs.
Overall, I do believe that this documentary is positive and regardless of what label you’re going to put on your diet, encouraging people to eat more whole foods is heading in the right direction. Using a handful of famous athletes spreads the message and is always going to be beneficial in reaching more platforms and people. Does it deserve all the controversy? No, I don’t believe so. All in all I cannot see the issue in assisting people to include more fruit and vegetables in their diet. In the case of The Game Changers it could have provided a more well-balanced objective, perhaps including people who do continue to eat meat and dairy whilst performing but calling it ‘vegan propaganda’ in my opinion is a bit of an overreach. So if you want to know more about veganism, then I recommend watching. Just remember we aren’t all professional athletes, and what works for them may not work for you.