Arriving at the Bell Tiff Lightbox to immense crowds, I was immediately alight with the shared buzz of excitement in the air. I was also filled with hope that a pro-plant-based documentary could appeal to the masses.
I was not disappointed.
If I had to describe The Game Changers in one word, it would be: sexy.
Filled with footage of scantily-clad athletes and body builders at their peak, directed by Louie Psihoyos (who won an Oscar for his work on The Cove) along with James Cameron as an Executive Producer, the documentary had every reason to be cinematically beautiful. On top of that, it throws heavy science-based punches against some commonly-held beliefs about what it means to be healthy.
The Game Changers follows James Wilks, Ultimate Fighter Champion, on his quest for the truth behind “the world’s most dangerous myth”: that consuming protein derived from animals is necessary for sustaining intense physical activity.
Wilks interviews some of the world’s strongest, fastest and most decorated elite athletes, including Scott Jurek (world record-breaking ultramarathon runner), Patrick Baboumian (world record-breaking strongman) and Dotsie Bausch (Olympic cyclist), who describe how switching to a plant-based diet substantially improved their athletic performance.
More than just eye-candy, this film brings ground-breaking research in plant-based diet and nutrition to the fore.
It discredits beliefs that our stone-age ancestors were meat eaters, that animal protein is the best source for building strength and muscle mass, and that animal products or by-products are part of a complete and balanced diet. Citing a wide range of peer-reviewed studies, the film does well to convince you that athlete or not, consuming animals is not only unnecessary for our health—it is actually killing us.
While the film focuses on the physical motivations for switching from animal to plant-based foods – including a comical nod to *insert eggplant emoji here* health – it doesn’t ignore the environmental impacts of animal agriculture (summary: raising and feeding livestock is killing the planet) and animal welfare issues.
One of the most surprisingly moving segments was of Damian Mander, a former mercenary who gave up contract killing to train park rangers in Africa against poachers with the same skills he learned in combat. Despite his efforts, Mander succinctly describes that “the easiest way to protect animals is to not put one in your mouth.”
Rather than preaching to the choir, The Game Changers succeeds in delivering its message without being “preachy”, and in so doing, ushers in a new era of vegan activism. The data and stories about plant-based diets are presented as a matter of fact, rather than burdened with emotional attachments and judgements. A telling example was when Baboumian described the moment someone asked him how he could get as strong as an ox, without eating any meat.
His response: “Have you ever seen an ox eating meat?”
You can’t argue with that.
Look out for The Game Changers in its wider public release in Fall 2018.