Before it hit Netflix, I actually went to the cinema to watch the pro plant-based diet documentary ‘The Game Changers’. Whilst a plant-based diet just isn’t my thing, I genuinely thought it was an interesting film that made some good points. However, in no way did I anticipate the impact it might have on the way some people viewed nutrition.
Since it hit Netflix the number of people who have suddenly decided that a vegan or plant-based diet is the key to their health and fitness is mind blowing. I don’t think I have ever seen a single documentary have such a big impact which is a testament to the producers of the film.
However, I would appeal to anyone considering a dramatic diet change to do their own research and data gathering rather than rely on one documentary that is clearly biased towards a plant-based diet.
Now I have no issues with a plant-based diet and I genuinely think people can achieve a healthy diet without the inclusion of animal products. My issue comes when people claim it is optimal. I think nutrition is an incredibly individual and personal thing and believe the optimal diet might look different for everyone.
So, I have written this article not to slam or argue the other side of the coin on diet, but to highlight where the issues with the film are and to hopefully encourage anyone considering such a drastic diet change to do more research.
With all documentaries designed to support an agenda there are the same issues:
Cherry picking data
Mis-representing study findings
Confusing causation and correlation
Using biased sources
We have to consider that the people behind this film have personal and financial interest in your wanting to switch to a plant-based diet. They have a moral issue with eating animals and would like you to stop doing it to and they have businesses that supply vegan supplements and nutritional advice. James Cameron, aka Mr Hollywood blockbuster and the man behind this film, owns the largest pea protein company in America! They will therefore not include anything in their documentary that conflicts with the message ‘meat bad, plant based good’. I’m sure we’ve all seen the studies from the early 1900s from tobaccos companies that claim smoking is actually good for you? A lot of these had genuine science behind them. They were just cherry picked, manipulated and mis-represented until they showed what the company wanted.
Now I’m not comparing a plant-based diet and smoking. But I am saying it is very easy to make a case for whatever point you want with the right experiments, the right data selection and the right mis-representation.
We also have to look at the credibility of the ‘experiments’ carried out in the film. Now I’m no scientist but I learned enough during GCSE’s that you can’t call an experiment fair without controlling all the factors. In the film they change people’s food for one meal, carry out a blood test and claim the plant-based meal has had an impact. There is no mention of the persons other eating habits, whether they smoke, whether they exercise, what alcohol or drug intakes they have. This makes everything in the test in the film pretty much anecdotal.
We then have to look at the experts in this film, the doctors and scientists who support the plant-based agenda. Obviously, they have been handpicked! They are plant-based themselves, have a moral obligation towards not eating animal products, have businesses that profit from plant-based diets or took hefty pay-cheques from the film itself.
Would you listen to a study that said Coca-Cola cured obesity if it was funded by Coca-Cola and only used studies from scientists who had stock in Coca-Cola? Of course you wouldn’t!
But my friend has been vegan for a month and lost loads of weight? Now a slight detour from the film but one of my least favourite supporting points for a plant-based diet. I would put money on the vast majority of people looking and feeling better the first month after going vegan. It’s called a healthy user bias. Let’s take that New Years resolution friend who is getting fit for 2020. They’ve joined a gym, they’ve stopped drinking and smoking and they’ve stopped eating their awful Western diet of processed food, sugary snacks and take-aways.
Shit the bed they look and feel great, must be the plant based diet right? Or it’s the fact they’ve started looking after themselves and stopped eating absolute crap. I guarantee the same results would follow if they ate a well-balanced diet that included eggs, fish and lean red meat.
For most of us the issue with our nutrition isn’t whether we eat meat or not it’s that we shite most of the time.
Now I know this all sounds very anti-plant-based and in all honesty, I don’t think a plant-based diet is the way forward for most people. That being said I know for some it works, I know for some the moral commitments to it outweigh the health elements and I know for some the mild health risks of a plant-based diet beat the health risks of too much processed meat.
As I said at the start do your own research, speak to any and everyone and if in doubt go and speak to a nutritionist yourself and get a proper plan in place. Please just don’t base your diet on the say so of a slick docu-film which has a million things wrong with it.
P.S have you ever actually heard of any of the athletes featured in the film? Not the ones credited as producers who all achieved their fitness pinnacles whilst consuming meat or who actually aren’t plant-based at all but the ones who are ‘changing the game’ now their plant-based? Hands up, I hadn’t.