The Game Changers – Should You Change Your Game? Part 1
We are: one omnivorous doctor of nutrition and human physiology; one omnivorous certified nutritionist (and former partner at a major international law firm); one omnivorous certified nutritionist (and former GB rower); and one vegan fitness coach.
We thoroughly enjoyed watching the Netflix documentary “The Game Changers”. We have the education and expertise necessary to watch each scene, strip the wheat from the chaff, and separate truth from fiction. We have the skills to read the research and make judgements about its validity. We have the experience to spot omissions in the narrative that are critical to assessing the accuracy of the bold statements that are made. Even if you do not have this background, you can still enjoy the documentary, but we suggest you consult a skilled, evidence-based nutritionist or dietitian before changing your game.
Our bottom line: A plant-based diet is a great way to promote health and performance.
A plant-based diet supplemented by moderate, but adequate, amounts of high-quality animal-based proteins and fats – probably even better.
We are not anti-vegan. We deeply respect people who make moral judgments about killing and eating animals or about the environmental impact of animal husbandry. We are anti-hysteria, anti-propaganda and anti-falsehood. We work with vegans to help them optimise their health and performance taking into account the restrictions on their diet. We believe veganism is deeply personal. Veganism can never be proven by science. It must be respected, but never proselytised.
Many people have already critiqued The Game Changers, alleging inaccuracies and scientific weaknesses and omissions in the very bold assertions made in the documentary.
Examples include: (i) the Roman gladiators were vegans; (ii) vegan men have stronger and more frequent erections than meat-eating men; and (iii) Nate Diaz beat Conor McGregor because Nate is a vegan. All false (at least far more likely than not). The film does engage in deliberate deception to fuel its narrative. The burrito scene is an example. They compare blood test results after eating a bean burrito and a burrito loaded with meat and cheese. The meat burrito, containing at least double the fat content of its vegan counterpart, caused post-prandial lipemia (fatty acids circulating in the bloodstream after consuming a meal containing fats) to a much larger degree. Due to this manipulation, significantly more fats entered the bloodstream resulting in a cloudy appearance once centrifuged and separated. Lipemia results from eating fat, not meat. It’s completely normal and it goes away. And fat is an essential part of the human diet. Had the vegan burrito been full of cashews, vegan cheese or other plant-based fats, the result would have been the same. The film also uses lab coat bias as a tool to manipulate the audience. If a doctor uses big words to make a point, people unquestionably assume the doctor is right. In this case, he’s not. But he does make a lot of money selling vegan food or books on veganism.
We start with the good in The Game Changers: eating fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes and whole grains is really, really good for you.
They are a great dietary source of many of the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to perform optimally. They are the best dietary source of fibre to support gut health. They are a great dietary source of polyphenols, and other antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, to help keep you young and free of illness. They are full of carbohydrates to provide energy and fuel performance. They are a critically important part of the diet of anyone seeking to optimise health and maximise performance. Plant-based nutrition is good.
Removing all animal-based nutrition for most people may be less good.
In the second part of our response to “Game Changers", we dig into what the science really tells us about three important nutritional considerations: protein, micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and dairy. We reveal the evidence that Game Changers leaves out of their narrative.