I have always felt life was too short to not eat meat. I didn’t see the point. I just didn’t. And then I finally watched “The Game Changers” on my watchlist on Netflix. After some research, I’ve decided that I’m going to test out eating vegan/vegetarian meals only Monday-thru-Friday starting this Sunday – and then I’ll go from there.
“Game Changers” Caught Me by Surprise
I added a documentary called “The Game Changers” to my watchlist on Netflix a long time ago based on this description in the streaming service…
As someone who regularly works out, that premise intrigued me enough for it to get added to my list (even though I didn’t watch it until much later in May of 2021).
I was curious.
And then once I started watching it, I was caught off guard by what was being presented.
It was a damn propaganda film for Veganism! Legit – that was my initial reaction to the film, and that’s what it is if I’m being 100% honest – haha! But, I didn’t turn it off. I tend to like to finish things that I start watching, so – I kept it going.
And as I watched it, I started reading articles while watching. And then I started convincing myself that this whole “vegan for performance”-approach might be worth experimenting with (for those who don’t know me, I LOVE doing little mini-experiments on myself every now and then with workouts, diets, financial things, etc.
This documentary showed enough regarding the benefits of a plant-based diet through all of its interviews, case studies, and experiment segments to leave me intrigued. And I didn’t feel like any of it was presented in a way that I felt looked down on. I just felt a little more informed.
Healthy Motivations: Enjoyable vs. Effective
I think a lot of people in the United States resist mostly or entirely removing meat from their diet because it’s a flavor we’ve been raised to enjoy. These numbers are from 2018 — but just look at U.S. meat consumption (which I can’t help but feel may be higher if I had this number for 2020 or 2021)!
219 pounds of meat on average per person (per capita) sounds like a lot, but it’s not too outlandish when you think about your habits and those of others around you. In fact, I’m convinced that my meat consumption is likely much higher than that.
I am a Black male born and raised in America’s heartland. I grew up eating high quantities of meat. Specifically, since I’m from Kansas City, MO – I probably ate higher than normal amounts of barbecue compared to many portions of the U.S. I live on the East Coast and make a reasonable income, so my diet has only grown more indulgent in the things I like.
This is a picture of a meal I mostly ate in one sitting from my personal Facebook account less than two weeks ago…
I am not ashamed of that meal or anything; it was delicious. And while this was a splurge day (I don’t eat like this all of the time), I’m showing it to illustrate a point. That was a MEAL for me. And I might eat like this once or twice a month (you should see me with a plate of tacos – yeesh).
I regularly prepare and eat nice-sized steaks at home. I eat Chipotle like it’s my religion (seriously – a minimum of 4-5 times a week), and I always get the same steak burrito. I love hamburgers. Fried chicken is a regular guilty pleasure I indulge in. Fancier meats while I’m out enjoying Korean BBQ or Tapas aren’t uncommon. What I’m saying is I LOVE a nice main dish of the carnivorous variety.
And it’s not like I don’t eat vegetables and other things at all. I’d say I consume anywhere from 2,500 – 3,200 calories in a typical day, and while I don’t eat small portions of meat-to-vegetable ratios in every meal (say, 1/5 or 1/4 of my meal being meat) – I keep it in the range of 1/3 to 1/2 of my meal composition being meat (which is more than you can say for some dudes at my stage of life).
This type of eating is enjoyable for me. That is all that this comes down to. And while I eat with protein in mind, and all that – I know about alternative non-meat forms of getting protein, so I can’t say that’s my primary reason for consuming as much meat as I do. I eat like that because I savor the flavor (#bars).
If I were just looking for effective forms of protein, there are ways to go about getting that. Hell, even I know about split peas – and I know how to prepare them, too.
Check out James Wilks, the UFC Fighter who is the protagonist of “The Game Changers” (documentary) meticulously breakdown how a peanut butter sandwich would give a person plenty of protein as a non-meat alternative in the first 6-minutes of this video.
And I like peanut butter as much as the next non-allergic person, but I enjoy steak more.
I am just saying, my decisions (and probably those of many others) have solely been based on what’s enjoyable – not what’s effective. So, I want to try and dip my toe in the effective side of things and lessen my perceived joy just a bit. I know that once I acclimate to this change in how I eat, I’ll enjoy it all the same.
PS: Seriously – I eat plenty of salad, baked salmon, fruit, grains, legumes, Greek yogurt, and all that stuff all of the time. A lot of people consider my current eating habits healthy — this is just a bit healthier.
Challenging & Interrogating vs. Dismissing
Believe it or not, “The Game Changers” documentary is considered controversial and some immediately dismiss it as dangerous pseudo-science. And I get it. I have been taught my entire life that I NEED meat in my diet — but certain things aren’t adding up.
(I mean, we all see it.)
Even though vegan athletes who compete at the highest levels do exist… Even though I, and many others, personally know fully-functioning vegans who are BEYOND healthy (in terms of their cardiovascular and muscular conditioning)… Even though we see the proof every single day… The concepts discussed in this documentary bother some people because of its stance that you can get everything you need (nutritionally speaking) from an entirely non-meat diet.
And I have to ask myself, “Why is that?”
(We can all totally research it.)
Aside from the personal agendas and value systems involved with this one, I think the documentary’s contents bothering people is a matter of social norms (meaning: Social Norm = People eat meat). That, and the fact that people haven’t bothered to investigate anything, and that many of them just haven’t had any willingness to try it out (see the previous section about finding things “enjoyable”).
Check out this book called “How Not to Die…” by Michael Greger, M.D. and Gene Stone.
At a minimum, watch the documentary for yourself.
There is a lot out there that supports what is presented in this documentary, and I’m just saying to look into it. Start somewhere just to see if it even remotely makes sense to you (for yourself, don’t take the documentary’s word or even my word on this stuff — read for yourself). A friend posted an appropriate quote to Facebook this morning (hi, Letitia) as I was writing this post:
Don’t be anti-intellectual. If you see something you think is suspicious, challenge it — sure, by all means, please do — but at least research it from credible places before staunchly rooting your feet into a stance of opposition.
(And we could all test out the benefits.)
I plan to test all of this out by stepping down from meat. Not entirely – but mostly. I also don’t plan to go fully vegan (sorry, I love dairy and eggs), but I’ll be going vegan/vegetarian on weekdays and allow myself to enjoy, but not overdo, meat consumption on the weekends. That feels fair enough in my eyes, and I think it’ll allow me to examine some of the results I want to verify (mainly around energy levels and being able to maintain my workout physique).
I don’t hate cooking, but I certainly don’t love it – and I don’t plan to learn to prepare a bunch of vegan/vegetarian meals so that I don’t get bored with salads. That’s too much all at once and would turn me off and set me up for failure.
So, I’m taking advantage of a relationship my job has with a local meal preparation company to have affordable (I get an employee discount for working at my job) fully-prepared vegan/vegetarian meals delivered to me twice a week. I won’t name drop or post any links here in this post because this isn’t a commercial for that company, but if you’re curious – let me know in the comment section below and I’ll drop their name in responses.
I know that those meals won’t be enough calories to maintain my usual dietary needs (I’m only eating like 2 of those a day and I think they max out at 600 calories each), but I’ll supplement the rest with snacks that I regularly eat anyway. Things like almonds, Greek yogurt, guacamole, bananas, and yes — even peanut butter sandwiches.
I plan to test out the merits of what I saw in the documentary and what I’ve been reading, and anyone else could too if they chose to do so.
Why are you doing this? Why try Veganism?
I want to clarify that I’m not doing this for any moral reasons. I didn’t suddenly develop a mindset of it being wrong to eat meat for reasons related to animal suffering or environmental impact. There is no superiority complex that has suddenly grown in me that sees this as the only way that people SHOULD eat. Nope – nothing like that.
I just want to test out what I think looks like a healthier lifestyle choice for myself. That is all.
And I’ll stress this: I’m not getting rid of meat entirely. I simply want to reduce the amount of meat I eat because I’m Black and preventable diet-related conditions do take us out on a regular basis.
I don’t want to look back later on in life and see high cholesterol levels and blood pressure readings knowing that all it would’ve taken to prevent that was to make better eating choices while I was younger. I won’t die if I don’t have meat in every meal, and I also won’t die if I enjoy meat in my meals on the weekends.
I am trying to find an optimal balance. That is all.
I don’t think anyone should go all-in with either direction of veggies or meat, but I do think you should find what works best for you and your desired level of health.
And with that, you lovely readers, I bid you adieu. I will probably write a follow-up post in a few months to let others know how things are going and what changes I saw based on this change in my diet, so expect that toward the end of the year or something.
If you have any thoughts, comments, questions, advice – or any of that – please drop it in the comment section below.
Peace, and thanks for reading.
The soundtrack for this post provided by…
– Cover Image © Game Changers Film, LLC
– Body Image 1 © Statista
– Body Image 2 © Johnnie Weathersby III
– Body Image 3 © Prostock-studio (Shutterstock)
– Body Image 4 © Syda Productions (Shutterstock)