In September, the highly-anticipated vegan documentary, The Game Changers, was finally released and we sent 3 lucky members from Myvegan HQ to attend the premiere viewing.
From captivating stories shared by world class athletes, to ground-breaking scientific studies, here’s what they thought of the film.
The Game Changers Movie Review
What is The Game Changers about?
The Game Changers is a film documenting the rise of plant-based eating in professional sport and how this relates to current and historical perceptions of nutrition and strength. It follows James Wilks – an elite Special Forces trainer and The Ultimate Fighter winner as he travels the world investigating the optimal diet for human performance. It is co-produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic, Chris Paul, Joseph Pace, Louie Psihoyos and James Wilks. James Wilks begins with his own story of injury which led him to research the latest techniques in recovery. From here, he discovers a range of viewpoints advocating plant-based diets over heavily meat-based ones, for improving performance and recovery.
The film covers interesting stories ranging from Morgan Mitchell, a two-time Australian 400m champion, to Damien Mander, an ex-special ops fighter and now CEO of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation. Through exciting successes shared by world class athletes, we are shown how focusing on nutrition alongside training is crucial for performing at your physical and mental best. On The Game Changer’s movie website they state:
“The holy grail of sports nutrition is to optimally fuel training and competition, while accelerating recovery. Athletes with dialed-in diets can push harder, last longer, heal quicker, and train again sooner.”
The film addresses some of the common misconceptions around nutrition, health and strength, with no scene more relevant than when Patrik Baboumian breaks the world record for the most weight ever carried by a human. Even Lou Smith, an ex NFL cornerback, laughs at how his grandchildren struggle to keep up with him athletically due to the energy he has had over the last 10 years since being plant-based. The bodybuilding cultural icon Arnold Scwarznegger also features in the film, alluding to the marketing of meat as a man’s only source of strength and protein.
It is made clear that a healthy balance of protein and carbohydrates is key to providing the body with the fuel it needs for endurance and building muscle. Eating a range of plant-based foods also increases the chances of getting all the micronutrients needed to boost productivity, both in and out of a sport setting.
One of the best things The Game Changers shows is that veganism can be exciting, easy and delicious. Through mouth-watering shots of home-made vegan ‘mac n’ cheese’ and hearty burritos, it shows that the variety of plant-based ingredients means it is actually easy to have an extremely varied range of meals, not just a plain salad and carrot sticks.
Fact or fiction?
This film is ultimately about diet and nutrition, so it’s expected that the focus is on this aspect of athletes lives, however it’s important to consider the additional factors that may influence performance such as training, stress, sleep, hydration, smoking and alcohol use, and genetics.
The benefits felt by moving to a plant-based diet may be attributed to the general increased intake of fruit, veg, and wholefoods if they had been lacking to begin with, and not specifically relating to the absence of meat. The fact that many elite athletes have succeeded at the top of their game on only plant-based sources shows clearly that we don’t depend on meat to perform at our best. Athletes and non-athletes can be happy at their peak physical performance on a vegan or vegetarian diet.
In The Game Changers, it’s important to remember that the stories from the high-performing athletes promoting their success on a plant-based diet, are anecdotal. Wilks makes sure to investigate these personal accounts by speaking with renowned scientists who explain some of the latest research into health and nutrition, as well as anthropologists for a historical perspective. Overall, it certainly offers a balanced range of views that form a compelling argument to non-vegans on the ability to perform on a plant-based diet. Whilst we didn’t need convincing of this, it’s great to see elite-level athletes transitioning to plant-based routines and noticing significant shifts in their performance.
How long is the film?
At 1h 48mins, The Game Changers is a great length to fit in a comprehensive range of topics without dragging on. This is, after all, a documentary meant to share facts and often complex scientific information. The film manages to break down the nitty gritty into impactful, punchy sequences which keep it feeling fast-paced and easy to follow. We even stayed for the additional ‘After Show’ featuring never-before-seen footage, deleted scenes and extended interviews, and yet at no point did I lose interest. In fact, I found myself wishing they had included these outtakes in the actual movie so everyone could see them!
Unseen extras and outtakes
One of the additional benefits of attending the premiere meant we were able to see some unseen footage, interview discussion with director James Cameron, and also some funny outtakes. I hope the interview with James Cameron becomes readily available online as it provided a very valuable section of “real-talk” away from the more dramatic and cinematic nature of the film. In the short clips, Cameron chats openly about his changing perception of veganism and relates it to that of general society. He acknowledges that promoting the benefits of increased plant-based foods shouldn’t be preachy or expect anyone to convert overnight – and this is his aim with The Game Changers. Whilst the film is obviously heavily persuasive towards a vegan lifestyle, it is meant as an eye-opening view of common misconceptions around nutrition and health.
The Game Changers is an exciting docu-film that emphasises the benefits plant-based foods have on energy and strength – proving that vegan diets can fuel some of the most elite athletes in the world. It is a perfect length and uses fast-paced, cinematic sequences to alternate between personal stories and interesting scientific fact.
It’s easy to critique the dramatic scenes of ‘slow-mo’ tyre-punching and car tipping, but this is a movie after all – if we wanted to watch a university lecture on plant-based nutrition vs. meat eating then we wouldn’t have gone to see this.
I certainly left feeling inspired about my own health and fitness, and encouraged to consider a wide range of informative sources before making lifestyle decisions. If it encourages anyone to add a bit more natural fruit and veg into their diet, that can only be a good thing.
Safe to say this will plant the seed of veganism into a lot of people’s heads.