Have you been tuning in to all the talk around the popular Netflix film, Game Changers? There's been many great discussions surrounding the film, most of them turning against the storyteller, James Wilks, and most of them stating that Wilks:
- referenced multiple studies in the film that do not come to the conclusions that he claimed they did.
- cherry-picked studies to fit his agenda and did not take contradicting studies into account.
- led watchers to believe that all the athletes and others interviewed in the film were vegan, when in fact many of them were eating meat or switched back to eating meat after the film.
- made many false claims, including that meat and dairy cause cancer, and even compared them to cigarettes.
Overall, Game Changers seems to shame meat-eating, and promotes the idea that all people should be on a vegan diet for optimal health & performance.
My main issue with the film is this - a "Plant-Based Diet," the term used all throughout the film, was never defined, nor properly represented.
Plant-Based is a spectrum, it can mean you prioritize fruits & veggies in your diet, or that you're pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, or anything in between. The film was obviously pointing towards the extreme end, being vegan. We know this by it's demonizing of meat, and animal products and bi-products. Still, Wilks continued to use the term "Plant-Based," which can mean so many things.
The confusion with that term in the film is, it doesn't accurately represent Wilks' stance and leaves me wondering, what are we really talking about here? Because if his claims are simply that all people should eat a Plant-Based diet, I agree! If Plant-Based means you eat lots of fruits and veggies, then he is spreading a great message! But, while the term "Plant-Based" was being used, the idea proposed throughout the film was actually that meat is bad for you, causes cancer, and will kill both you and the world. That idea, is one I cannot get behind, as it takes Plant-Based to an absurd extreme.
So now we turn to popular discussion, most recently, the debate.
Among others, Chris Kessler has made his stance on the film very known. His extensive show notes made watchers question many red flags throughout the film. His show notes were so extensive, that Joe Rogan had him on the air to review these red flags and discuss why millions of watchers and listeners should be weary of switching to a vegan diet without proper medical guidance and nutrient planning.
Kessler and Rogan invited Wilks to come and discuss Kessler's show notes with them on the air if he had a rebuttal, and he did. When Wilks came on the air with Kessler, I feel he did a great job of refuting some of Kessler's statements against the film. Of the 4 hours they spent debating, only about 2 were productive conversation, and the rest is trying to listen as they bicker like siblings. Nonetheless, in what came of the productive pieces, I gained a lot more respect for Wilks and his views, as he defended many parts of the film well.
What still doesn't sit right with me about Game Changers after the film, the show notes, the rebuttal, many other professionals weighing in, and reading through much of the linked literature on both of their sites, is this:
James Wilks not only can't prove that animal protein is bad for us - he never even attempted to explain that stance in the debate. They covered so many smaller topics like B12, lactose intolerance, saturated fat, and ways that vegan protein sources can measure up, but never how animal protein could be bad for us - because it's simply not proven.
Wilks does a great job of showing how a vegan diet can give us well rounded and adequate nutrients, but is never able to show why his way of eating is better than including meat in the diet, nor how animal protein and bi-products are inherently bad - because they're not.
So what does all this mean for us? Well, it shows what many other diets being de-bunked show: Diets are not one-size-fits all.
There is not a single diet that we can apply to every human on earth and witness optimal health & performance for all. Whether you eat meat, or dairy, or other animal bi-products, or not, you can have a healthy diet.
The best way to attack your diet for optimal health and performance is to appropriately plan to consume all nutrients in proper quantities. For most, that looks like consuming mostly whole foods, in a wide variety, including plenty of vegetables! That can include meat, dairy, and other animal bi-products if you choose, or not.
If you've watched Game Changers, I highly recommend listening in or watching both Kessler's De-Bunking and Wilks' Rebuttal, as it helps viewers understand that our diets are not as cut and dry as Game Changers, and many other diets and films, propose. Choosing to cut out meat and animal products, or cutting out any single thing for that matter, will NOT drastically improve or optimize your health or performance.
If you are struggling with your health or performance, please don't turn to popular films and fad diets to self diagnose. See a doctor, get lab work done, have your diet and lifestyle assessed, and work with a professional to create a plan that best fits you and your needs.