There are times where the health and nutrition community is just way ahead of us in terms of advocating for our rights to consume meat, dairy and eggs without fear of sin taxes or cultural shame.
The reaction of Netflix’s newest documentary, “Game Changers” is an excellent example of just that.
If you haven’t heard of it, let me save you the two hours of your life and give you a summary:
In this documentary, Arnold Schwarzenegger — the Hollywood actor, former politician and famous bodybuilder (who earned his physique in the peak of his career by eating, you guessed it, animal fats and proteins) — tells viewers to switch to plant-based diets to build muscle and improve your overall health.
The documentary makes crazy claims such as saying that a peanut butter sandwich is just as nutritious as a serving of beef or eggs or that beet juice will increase your bench press by 19%.
In response, Anthony Gustin, DC, MS, CEO of Perfect Keto, wrote a blog post titled, “Game Changers Movie Review: Fact vs. Fiction.”
In the blog, Gustin follows the money, pointing out that the film was created by James Cameron (Academy Award-winning film maker for movies such as The Titanic and Avatar) and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron (the same gal who appeared on Oprah recently to encourage her fans to go meatless once/day).
Interestingly, the Camerons are founders of Verdiant Foods, an organic pea protein company.
Gustin writes, “This isn’t just some dinky plant-based protein start-up. As a press release from 2017 states; ‘Cameron has the goal to become the largest organic pea protein fractionation facility in North America.’ He’s also partnered with Ingredion, one of the leading global ingredient suppliers, racking up an investment of $140 million. So he definitely has no skin in the game, right?
“But the plant-based bias doesn’t end there. The film interviews several healthcare and fitness professionals for insights into their expertise — with the caveat that they’re all selling the vegan lifestyle.”
What’s more, Gustin says, “The filmmakers argue that plant foods are quality sources of protein and are, in fact, better sources of protein than animal-based foods. To unpack this one, we need to dive into the concepts of a ‘complete protein,’ and ‘protein quality’ first.
“As defined by the FDA, a complete protein contains all of the essential amino acids in adequate amounts. Incomplete proteins do not have sufficient amounts of one or more of the essential amino acids. Or, they’re missing amino acids altogether.
“Animal protein sources come naturally packed with all of the essential amino acids in amounts that your body needs to function. Plant proteins, on the other hand, do not. While they may contain some of the essential amino acids in adequate amounts, -- with the exception of soy — you’ll have to combine plants to get a complete protein.
“This may not sound like that big of a deal, but when it comes down to your actual diet, the question becomes; how much rice and beans do you need to eat to make the same amount of complete protein in a 4oz piece of chicken?”
Also sounding off on this issue is my new friend, Dr. Ryan Lowery, founder of the Applied Science and Performance Institute. Lowery recently interviewed me on his podcast, What the Fat.
If you missed our episode, you can listen to it here. (For what it's worth, this was my favorite interview of the 23 media requests I participated in following my letter to Ellen DeGeneres going viral!)
Anyway, in a recent YouTube video, Lowery debunks 10 myths presented in this documentary. Here is an excerpt:
“Myth - Vegetarians are stronger. The example of the Connor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz fight was extremely biased. McGregor was scheduled to fight an opponent at a lower weight class and that opponent pulled out of the fight on the week of. Connor was cutting for a 155-lb. fight and at the last minute, stopped cutting and had to put on weight to fight Nate at 170-lbs. They didn’t mention that in their second fight, McGregor beat Nate at 170lbs.
“Myth - Plant-based diets are superior for endurance athletes. While highlighting plant-based ultra-endurance athletes, there is no comparison to meat-eaters. Zach Bitter is a great example of an endurance athlete, who holds the 100-mile American record and who also happens to follow the ketogenic diet.
“Myth - The average plant-eater gets 70% more protein than needed. This value is based on the RDA—a value indicating the minimum amount of protein needed to survive. Not to mention, total protein content means very little without context. For example, each protein source provides different amino acid profiles.”
Even Men’s Health calls out the documentary as faulty on scientific context.
Reporter Paul Kita writes, “In one instance where the documentary does cite actual peer-reviewed, narrator James Wilks, MMA fighter turned vegan advocate, says, ‘And when it comes to gaining strength and muscle mass, research comparing plant and animal protein has shown that as long as the proper amount of amino acids are consumed the source is irrelevant.’
“What Wilks doesn’t call out is that the same study states this: ‘as a group, vegetarians have lower mean muscle creatine concentrations than do omnivores, and this may affect supramaximal exercise performance.’”
Listen, ag may be late to the party on this one, but our voices are still needed in these discussions. To make it easy, why not share some of these published fact checkers on your social media pages?
These folks have expertise in health and nutrition, and they love animal fats and proteins. As I’ve stated many times in recent weeks, these meat lovers/body builders are already allies in our corner, so why not work together to debunk the Hollywood elitists’ powerful agendas?
Because the heart of the matter isn’t if we eat meat or just plants. What truly is at stake here is our freedom of food choice and our freedom to farm. And beyond that, this advice is dangerous, elitist and irresponsible.
Easy for Schwarzenegger and his Hollywood friends to eat vegan diets with the supplementation and careful supervision of trainers and nutritionists. However, it’s fact that a vegan diet is incomplete without properly monitoring and supplementing needed nutrients. Can the average consumer do that?
What’s going to happen instead is people will adopt a vegan lifestyle, fail in their health and ultimately suffer from physical and mental ailments. Shame on Arnold for doling out this kind of advice! My hope is that the many who watch this don’t fall prey to this propaganda.
And I just want to extend a huge thank you to the nutrition community who has actively engaged and responded to this documentary so swiftly and effectively. As a beef producer, I’m grateful for your support and your continued beef purchases!
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.