Silver medal for Game Changers movie

Photo: Anti-poacher Damien Mander

I have mixed feelings about James Cameron’s powerful movie the Game Changers, which I watched yesterday. It makes a convincing case for athletes to switch to a plant-based diet, to benefit their sporting results, general health, and even sexual performance.

It follows James Wilks, a US military instructor and former UFC fighter, as he recovers from a serious injury that left him unable to train for six months. He finds a recent study that concludes that, contrary to accepted wisdom, Roman gladiators ate little to no meat.

He flies to Austria to meet the researchers, and starts a longer quest to discover the views of dozens of the world’s strongest, fastest, and toughest athletes, as well as leading experts on athletics, nutrition, cardiology, haematology, genetics, anthropology, and forensic pathology.

The athletes he talks to include former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, US national cycling champion Dotsie Bausch, Australian 400m champion Morgan Mitchell, tennis champion Novak Djokovic, and world-record-holding strongman Patrick Babouman.

The movie’s website gamechangersmovie.com provides extra resources. A section on food covers core principles, protein, and plant-based recipes. A section on benefits covers maximising performance, optimising health, and the bigger picture.

Will the Game Changers cause some people to stop eating meat? Yes, it will, if its target market sees it, and that will be a good thing. The movie dismantles many myths about humans needing meat for protein, and shows how eating meat can actually be bad for us.

Here comes the “but…”

But beyond our personal benefit, the movie’s only other message was that if we eat less meat, it would be good for the environment. There was almost no reference to the ethics of humans killing trillions of sentient beings every year for the convenience of our taste buds.

The main exception was Damien Mander, a former Australian Royal Navy Clearance Diver and Special Operations Military Sniper who now serves as Founder and CEO of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation.

Damien revealed that he finally saw the ethical contradiction between spending his days saving endangered wild animals from being killed by poachers, then going home in the evening and eating other animals for his dinner.

The movie’s website does not even reference this. Its section on the Bigger Picture merely addresses land use, water use, contamination, and air quality and emissions. It refers to animals as “livestock” and “middlemen” of protein, who are “consumed” with no mention of the injustice of killing them on an industrial scale.

Conclusion

The makers of the movie clearly chose to take this approach. Executive producer James Cameron is a vegan, so he understands the issues. Maybe they felt that it would be counterproductive to focus on the ethics, by potentially alienating people who might be convinced by other reasons.

But to me, it felt like a powerful lecture to slave owners in the nineteenth century, explaining how their plantations could run more efficiently and profitably without slaves, but with only passing reference to the injustice of owning slaves in the first place.

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3 Comments

  1. I think you did not get the real meaning. Eating this way has changed my life and the life of as friend’s. I am 64 years old, lost 54 pounds in 6 months and have more energy then ever. I find eating this way excellent for ones health. Your last paragraph made me laugh out loud. Eating this way is for better overall health. It proves that meat is NOT needed for protein, that is why athletes are now doing it. Read more books on it, I can’t stop reading. I will never ever eat meat or dairy or processed foods or white processed flours, pasta and breads again. My son is vegan and an ice hockey goalie and going strong at 29.

  2. Regina, I agree with everything you have written. My point is that, as well as the health benefits, the movie should have also highlighted the moral injustice of eating meat, which is humans killing animals for food.

  3. Hi Michael, your point that they did not include the humane aspect in the documentary is deliberate. From all the reviews it appears their target audience specifically included (young?) men. A lot of strength, power, winning, and all those other attibutes was repeatedly shown to attract this audience. So of the 3 pillars of not eating animals (health, world, kindness) they included the first two. I’m guessing the third was deliberately omitted to avoid turning off this audience (yeah I am sorry to say that). I strongly believe (because it happened this way to me) that once someone goes vegan only then can they be open and admit to themselves that farming animals is not acceptable and needs to not be supported. Bring them in for the health and watch them stay for the kindess – or so I hope! Either way if we stop eating animals then only good can become of it.

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