Agenda-driven nutritional guidelines and celebrity health advice.  A deadly combination.  I have mad respect for Jackie Chan and Arnie but neither are qualified to give nutritional advice.  And neither followed a vegan diet during their career peaks so why are they pushing it on you now in their Netflix documentary Game Changers?

The trouble is that viewers without an understanding of basic science will be fooled by some of the very visually persuasive but scientifically meaningless points made in this film (cloudy serum does not equal bad, clear does not equal good).  They also use very ridiculous examples such as vegan Diaz defeating meat-lover McGregor as tangible proof that vegans are superior.  Never mind that Diaz has plenty of career losses to meat-eating fighters.  Not because they eat meat but because they are better fighters.  Want to know how skewed this documentary really is?  They fail to mention a few key points: meat-eating McGregor fights at 155lbs and vegan Diaz at 170lbs, McGregor took the fight on short notice AND, when given time to prepare, McGregor defeated Diaz in the rematch despite being a much smaller man.  All of this info was available during the making of the documentary but none of it was mentioned because it failed to support the vegan>meat-eating agenda.  Of course, most viewers don’t follow MMA like I do and have no idea.

The documentary isn’t all deception.  They do share some truths such as carbs are fuel for performance.  True.  But they make it sound like fuel is the only thing your body requires.  It’s like saying the only material required to construct a car is gasoline.  They also confuse performance with health because pasta and sugar will fuel performance better than celery and kale but that doesn’t mean you should live on spaghetti and gummy bears.  Health and performance are not the same thing.

Game Changers tells us that vegetarians can get all the nutrients they require without consuming animal products.  This assertion ignores the actual research that demonstrates that with only a few exceptions, even lacto-ovo-vegetarians tend to suffer from vitamin deficiencies.

My goal here isn’t to push meat on anyone, the opposite in fact.  It is to declare that political agendas should have no place in nutrition.  Lives depend on good information and documentaries like Game Changers do not provide it.  Unfortunately Game Changers will be seen by millions of people, most of whom are not reading actual nutritional science abstracts.  If you want an apolitical review of the actual science of nutrition as we currently understand it, this TED Talk by Dr. Israetel is neither pro nor anti-meat, it just sums up our scientific understanding to date.  Useful information whether you are vegan or carnivore.

Why is nutrition so confusing?  Why are there so many conflicting reports?  Shine shared with me a great article comparing the nutritional sciences to cargo cults.  It helps explain how documentaries like Game Changers can continue to thrive and find receptive audiences.

I just finished reading an autobiography by Lena Dunham in which she details her failed efforts to lose weight by eating healthier.  I’m stunned by how hard she is working doing all the things she thinks are right, depriving herself with all the best intentions.  It’s painful to read because to me it is obvious how misguided her efforts are and her failure is inevitable because her practices are built on a very shallow understanding of nutrition informed by popular media.  She has been set up top fail and conclude that normal weight and health are somehow beyond her reach no matter how hard she tries.

How many other people struggle just as hard and fail miserably because they’re operating with poor information?  Millions I suspect.  Blame the media.  Blame celebrities.  Blame agenda-driven science.  We can blame all we want and we will remain powerless until we take responsibility for our own health, stop listening to “experts” and media and begin studying the actual science.  And pleeeeaaaase, no matter how convincing, do not be taken in by agenda-driven nutritional advice be it vegan, keto, paleo, low fat or other.