The Game Changers, the scientific review, Those who revolutionized the game in translation, is a documentary that supports veganism and the idea that the best source of protein is plants. Is the documentary's message valid? We were together!
Vegan and vegetarian diets are becoming more and more popular, and the documentary The game changers has dropped just fine. It is a great production, with many famous names in it, but there are few nutritionists who support the basic idea behind the documentary: "the best protein sources are plants." In this review, I will not get into polemics regarding different sports disciplines or how grandma ate / did not eat meat all her life and lived up to 100 years.
We will stay with the science to determine if the plant protein sources are the best for your health, physical appearance and sports performance. All this on objective data, without ethical principles!
1. Will the meat kill you?
The Game Changers documentary supports the idea that meat causes cancer, inflammation and cardiovascular disease. It is easy to find studies that contradict or support these ideas, but what about all the scientific evidence?
Recently, Annals of Internal Medicine published what is to date the most comprehensive review of the effects of red meat consumption on health. After analyzing 5 new systemic studies in the literature, they concluded that there is not enough evidence to reduce the intake of red meat!
Shortly after, another large review by Händel et al. (2019), concluded that past associations between meat - even processed red meat - and negative health effects are flawed and the methodology used to determine them was precarious: "The better the quality of a study, the more the association between meat and negative effects on health is lower. Moreover, the accuracy of the results was very low due to the risks of defects and imprecision. "
All in all, an average person who has a typical western diet has the benefit of consuming more vegetables than meat, but eating meat in the context of a healthy diet has no negative impact.
2. Is the vegetarian diet the healthiest diet?
Vegetarians have very good results in health, in specialty literature, especially in epidemiology. But vegetarians by definition tend to be more concerned with lifestyle and health than ordinary people who eat meat. Someone who follows a vegetarian diet is, well, on the diet, and even on a restrictive one, so obviously he is more concerned with health and invests more in his own person than someone who does not have such concerns. In many studies, vegetarians have lower percentages of fat, higher intake of dietary fiber, higher intake of vitamins, and higher intake of antioxidants than those who eat meat.
Despite these advantages, vegetarians and vegans do not always have better overall health than omnivores. Studies comparing all causes of mortality between vegetarians and omnivores have produced mixed results:
In one study, vegetarians in the UK had the same general causes of mortality as meat consumers,
In an analysis of two large studies in the UK, vegetarians had a lower risk of cancer than those who consumed meat, but those who consumed and over had the same reduced risk of cancer as vegetarians.
A mini-review found that vegetarians had a lower overall risk of mortality than those who ate meat, especially because of better cardiovascular health, but this came with a higher risk of mortality from other non-communicable diseases, especially diseases of blood.
An older review of prospective studies found that vegetarians and meat consumers had similar mortality risks for whatever reason.
A review of vegetarianism in Austria found that "a vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health (higher incidences of cancer, allergies and mental illness), greater need for medical care and poorer quality of life", despite the fact that vegetarians generally had lower body fat percentages and consumed less alcohol than meat consumers.
An analysis of older people found similar mortality rates between vegetarians and non-vegetarians, despite the fact that vegetarians had a healthier lifestyle altogether.
The mixed results are logical if we think about the health effects of each group of foods. Plants offer certain nutrients and beneficial effects for health, but also animal products do. Plants shine on vitamins, antioxidants and phytochemicals; animal products have higher levels of quality protein and are richer in minerals and vitamins bioavailable, especially iron, omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA in particular) and B vitamins.
That is why many studies have found that adding animal products to a vegetarian diet has beneficial effects on health and that vegetarian diets increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies. In other words, flexitone diets tend to be healthier than vegan and vegetarian diets.