Game Changers - My honest thoughts
I wanted to take my time about this one rather than just rushing a blog out for the sake of it.
So, Game Changers; For those of you that are unaware of what i am even talking (or in this case typing) about is a nutrition/fitness documentary recently released on Netflix detail the difference between Vegan athletes and Carnivore athletes.
First of all, I will say this, yet, this Documentary is entirely Pro-Vegan… let’s get that shocker out there! Who would have thought, a vegan documentary, paid for by vegans, written by vegans about vegans would be PRO VEGAN?
I will also premise this high-level overview of my thoughts with the fact that I am not vegan, however I do know vegans and am fortunate enough to know the co-founders of the vegan awareness group “Veganuary”. This however will not alter my opinion on the subject.
So, Game Changers documents how people living a vegan lifestyle perform better, recover faster and are healthier that their non-vegan counterparts. So, is this true? To some extent yes, it is. Generally speaking, if you are living a vegan lifestyle, you are living a healthier lifestyle, and not because animal products are bad for you, however you generally will consume more natural whole foods and vegetables. Does that mean that you can’t get fat or unhealthy being a vegan? Absolutely not, you can get a surprising amount of vegan junk food. However, I have also seen first-hand the speedier recovery time of a vegan diet, they do generally seem to recover from intense exercise faster. They can get adequate protein for their needs from the foods they eat, IF they eat for it. If you aimlessly just go after vegetables and potatoes then no, you will not get adequate protein, but as said, it is easy to find higher protein sources that are entirely vegan.
The film starts with a UFC athlete saying that after he sustained an injury that would side-line him for months, he started to research faster recovery and came across the vegan diet and made the switch. He said this made him recover faster and come back fitter and stronger. This is inaccurate, and entirely coincidence in my opinion. The human body can only repair itself at a certain rate, for some people it is slower and for some people it is faster, so people just heal better than others. His recovery time is likely due to his fitness and sheer determination and willingness to do what ever it took during physio to get back to fighting strength (excuse the pun). People often underestimate the power of the mind; it can do some wonderful and some terrible things!
He discovered on this journey that the Roman Gladiators of old were vegetarian and ‘if it was good enough for them’. While I am not against vegetarianism or veganism, to say that gladiators were vegetarian for anything more than the fact it was cheaper for their owners and masters is being dishonest at best.
At one point they did a blood fat test with 3 people. They took blood samples after they gave 2 guys a non-vegan, meat heavy meal (Burritos), and the 3rd guy a vegan Burrito (he was vegan anyway). The next day they did the same experiment with 3 vegan burritos and re-did the blood samples. The first sample showed that the 2 meat burrito blood tests were cloudy, and that the vegans was clear and settled. The following days bloods were shown (after the 3 vegan meals) and all 3 blood were clear and settled. This part of the documentary was completely on the nose. Animal fats are indeed harder on your system to break down, while plant-based fats are far cleaner and superior. That was a very interesting segment, even though I could have predicted the outcome. These gents were athletes at the top of their game playing American Football, so they are as fit and healthy are they are ever going to be, and the meat meal still had that effect!
In the film they also did a rather funny documentation of 3 athletes’ night-time erections. The same set up, non-vegan meals one night (for all 3 guys this time – vegan athlete was not there, so no vegans were harmed in the making of this film haha), and a vegan meal the next. They had to wear an instrument on well.. you know where. The results of this test were frankly hilarious, the erections were up to nearly 500% longer and also harder after ONE vegan meal. This part was propaganda at best, even the vegans I know thought that was a bit OTT and were not buying it.
The Firefighters segment. In this segment they took a group of fire fighters that were supremely unhealthy, and I mean seriously so! They had very high Blood Pressure, and cholesterol through the roof etc. They ate takeout’s most of the time and lived a very, very unhealthy lifestyle (the sort that kills you in your 50’s). They made them vegan for a total of 7 days, then they re-tested them all. Can you guess what the results would were? I assume everyone would think the same, they were healthier! Shock Horror!! Their weight came down, their BP (blood pressure) lowered, their cholesterol’s lowered, they had more energy, felt better etc. This however, would have happened anyway if they cleaned up their diets and went for a whole foods-based diet, with or without animal products. Would an animal-based diet give them the level of results they got, and as fast as the vegan diet? This one I doubt, I think a wholly plant-based diet would yield faster results in terms of, cholesterol, blood pressure etc. I discount blood sugars here, as you can still elevate your blood sugar levels even on a vegan diet.
The film then had a couple of segments I 100% agree with. It reported on the predatory habits by fast food chains and compares them to the old smoking adds ‘our cigarettes don’t cause cancer’. The fast food industry is one of the reasons the west is getting a higher and higher obesity level!
They also report on the fact that animal farming (for the intent to eat) is destroying the planet. This is absolutely correct. I also know people in the meat industry, and even they comment on how bad for the environment cattle are when it comes to turning them into food! The way animals are treated just so we can eat them, or their products is disgusting in every aspect (yes I believe this, and yes I still eat them and their products, I’m a hypocrite, I know).
Animal agriculture is responsible for 90% of the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest and globally uses 83 percent of agricultural land but produces just 18 percent of calories and 37 percent of protein.
They also have a strong man who sets a world record for the amount of weight carried over a distance and a cyclist who was ‘too old’ for the Olympics! (I use the ‘too old’ as I hate that someone in their 30’s is deemed passed it when it comes to athleticism, I look and feel more athletic pushing 40 than I did in my 20’s!). However, her vegan diet improved her performance so much that she was invited to the Olympic team. These are no mean feats by either athlete, and to do so on a vegan diet (and long term vegans at that) proves that the protein levels are there, the carb quality and quantity is there (having reviewed the nutrition plans of a few vegans now, the carb content is arguably too high in some cases) and the fat is there, IF you eat the right foods. Eat vegan junk food constantly and you WILL run into problems at one point, just like you would an animal-based diet. I have seen one person who i will not name state that they thought the strength athlete was on steroids. This is absolutely wrong in my opinion, it is clear when someone is on steroids and that guy is not. Even more so, do you really think they would have used him if he was on steroids? If it came out that he was, their credibility would be through the floor!
They finish up with comments from Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the greatest athletes to every walk the planet. He talks about his previous mindset of meat, meat, meat, and how he then realised that not all his protein had to come from animal products. Now he eats a predominantly vegan or at least vegetarian lifestyle. He is correct, not all protein needs to come from meat and animal products, as I said you can get your required levels without touching a single animal product if you so wish.
Overall, I would say this film, while quite imbalanced in places (which I expected) is a great watch and would urge anyone interested in nutrition, even if you have no intention of going vegan, to give it a watch! It is weighted heavily towards veganism, as i would expect it to be, but it does so without pushing you away from animal-based, or even pushing you towards veganism, it just asks that you think! With the way that we live in this modern world, our food requirements are at an all time high, and as such animals are being manipulated and killed and an alarming rate! This documentary has come at just the right time, and may just succeed in its goal, to make some people think, and even make some people (myself included) change their ways, even if just a little. Lets face, it, one meal without an animal on your plate won’t kill you, imagine the difference if a few hundred households did that once per week. Makes you think doesn’t it!
I will finish this up with my own little test of vegan food I have tried since watching this, and my findings.
I mentioned to my wife that I fancied trying the Beyond Burger (supposedly the best vegan burger on the market in the UK). She came home with the following (and not our normal style of eating I may add) The Beyond Burger, 2 packets of vegan chicken nuggets, and a packet of vegan sausages, and we then ended up with the Iceland burger – the No Bull Burger.
So, here are my thoughts.
I will say that the Beyond Burger is honestly one of, if not THE BEST burger I have had in years and I would happily replace any future burger with it!
The nuggets were a similar experience, one pack was better than the other, but both were nice enough, and again, it wouldn’t bother me if I had them over actual chicken nuggets, however I don’t eat nuggets.
The sausages, not my sort of thing, a bit too herby and ‘paste’ textured for my liking, but I am sure there will be better ones out there.
The No-Bull Burger, this was still nice enough, but not as nice as the Beyond. It was considerably cheaper though.
So will I eat more plant-based and less animal products going forward? Absolutely! I already do to an extent anyway, however now, if I ever fancy that burger (hey, even trainers fancy a little naughty now and then!) then I won’t hesitate to reach for that Beyond Burger, and I would urge you all to open your minds and give some of this a try, it may surprise you, it certainly surprised me!