You may have heard about the new documentary called "The Game Changers", produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jackie Chan.
Unlike other documentaries which focus on the moral, animal welfare, and environmental reasons for going vegetarian or vegan, "The Game Changers" profiles plant-based athletes, and makes a mostly health- and performance-based argument for why you don’t need meat or dairy to be strong. A key aspect the film explores is the culturally embedded myth, encouraged by the meat industry myth, that meat is an integral aspect of masculinity  
The movie highlights a number of reasons for moving away from eating meat and towards a plant-based diet:
  • Cancer: "Research has shown that people who eat a diet high in animal protein (including red meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs) have more than a 400% increased risk of dying from cancer."
  • Cardiovascular Disease: "A Harvard study involving 131,342 participants found that every 10% increase in calories from animal protein led to a corresponding 8% increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and concluded that “high animal protein intake was positively associated with cardiovascular mortality and high plant protein intake was inversely associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality”
  • Land Use: "According to researchers from Oxford, meat, dairy, egg and fish farming use 83% of the world’s farmland, yet provide only 18% of the world’s calories. The reason livestock require so much land is because animals are actually just the “middlemen”, consuming on average six times more protein than they even produce."
  • Water Use: "Only 4% of humanity’s water usage actually occurs in the home. By contrast, 27% of humanity’s “water footprint” is used to produce animal foods"
  • Air Quality: "The livestock sector is responsible for 15% of global man-made emissions. To put that in perspective, that's about the same as all the emissions from all the transport in the world"
A quick search online reveals that this documentary has really riled up both sides of the plant-based debate. A lot of articles challenging assertions and conclusions made in "The Game Changers" bring up research study credibility, underlying biases of the producers and experts quoted, and other potential issues - you can read more here, here, and here
Most of the push-back is related to the health and performance claims that "The Game Changers" makes - it appears the environmental reasons for reducing meat consumption are compelling. In addition, it is estimated that if everyone went vegan, the worldwide economy would save $1.6 trillion by 2050 through health and social savings.
Regarding lifestyle changes, "The Game Changers" says "we encourage people to move at whatever speed feels comfortable and sustainable for you. As the saying goes, “perfect is the enemy of good”, and nowhere is this clearer than with changing how you eat. Contrary to what most diet books and programs suggest, each positive step you take counts, and there is no single approach to changing your diet that works for everyone."
Many of us in the sustainability field believe that whether you are completely cutting out meat, or just replacing one meal a week with a plant-based meal, we can all take steps to lower our carbon footprint through our diet. And if you do eat meat, there are great ways to do so sustainably too

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