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The Game Changers Film Hits Men Where It Hurts Most 🍆

Every few years there is a new documentary focused on the personal and planetary benefits of eating a plant-based or vegan diet. The Game Changers is the newest on this list, and it has a very specific demographic in mind: MEN.

Every few years there is a new documentary focused on the personal and planetary benefits of eating a plant-based or vegan diet. The Game Changers is the newest on this list, and it has a very specific demographic in mind: MEN. It’s definitely a must-watch for “people who have penises, or for people who like people who have penises.” I’m not sure if the word penis has ever been written on CleanTechnica before, but here we go.

Wait, what? What does your penis have to do with sustainability? Here’s the short version: we’ve been told that to be manly, men need to eat meat. The problem is, eating meat is terrible for your body (especially THAT part of your body) and it’s terrible for the planet.

Meat Is For ‘Manly’ Men

Decades of marketing have worked to convince men that animal foods are vital to your health and wellness. Not only is meat a healthy, necessary thing for to build bigger muscles, it’s especially important to your ‘manliness.’

This idea that ‘real men eat meat’ and that being a vegetarian is for ‘wimpy’ dudes has proliferated across popular culture. We can see this in action all the time: watch fast food commercials, anything to do with beer or sporting events, Father’s Day grilling memes, mens’ magazines, and so much more. It’s been, by most measures, a successful campaign. And it’s all FALSE – and it does a huge disservice to men.

I have a Master’s degree in Gender Studies, so stick with me for a minute as we break down why the meat-is-masculine image is so detrimental. Firstly, the idea of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are social constructs that differ greatly between cultures, time periods, and individuals. Masculinity generally (and toxic masculinity, especially) is a social construct that limits men from expressing a range of emotion and character traits considered outside the lines of ‘traditional masculinity.’

This idea that boys and men need to ‘man up’ tells them it’s not OK to be emotional, vulnerable, and fully present with a range of human feelings. This can limits their potential as leaders, parents, and partners – and limits them to very strict definitions of what a man IS and SHOULD BE. And this makes it HARD (haha) for men in this society to stray from the strict cultural norms of masculinity. Therefore, when savvy marketing pitches tell men what to eat to be ‘real men’ it’s powerful – and detrimental. I’m 100% sure that this discussion of masculinity made you more curious about this whole concept, so if you’re curious to learn more about how reforming our construct of masculinity can help society, I’d encourage you to check out Liz Plank’s new book, For the Love of Men – A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity.

Still with me? Great! So what does this have to do with you and your interest in sustainability? EVERYTHING.

Animal Foods Are Killing Our Planet, & Killing Us

Our collective obsession with meat is truly killing our planet. This has been covered for decades by various media sources, including our team. And yet it’s still the one solution that so many environmentalists just can’t commit to. So maybe we need it to be more personal – like, between-your-legs personal.

Sure, you use reusable utensils, but if you’re eating meat with that set of bamboo, it’s not really that helpful. Reducing or eliminating your intake of animals foods makes a HUGE dent in your personal footprint, and as animal agriculture is one of the driving forces of climate change, it’s going to make a huge difference for our little blue planet.

To further illustrate this point, in August 2019, wrote in his article Stop Mocking Vegans, “Many of us, myself included, engage in painless, performative environmentalism. We’ll give up plastic straws and tweet passionately that someone should do something about the Amazon, yet few of us make space in our worldview to acknowledge the carcass in the room: the irrefutable evidence that our addiction to meat is killing the planet right before our eyes.”

I like this quote from Manjoo because it so succinctly explains our issue: we have the choice everyday to avoid food that we know has an actively detrimental role to play in the planet we claim to care about so deeply. And yet it’s not enough. We’re still being told by commercials and fast food restaurants and doubt-producing studies that we need meat, or that killing animals is somehow ‘sustainable.’

So this is what I liked about The Game Changers: I think this film just might make a difference for the menfolk out there not yet convinced to move to a more plant-based diet. The film covers a lot of good stuff: nutrition, building muscle, energy, and all of the diseases that are conclusively linked to animals foods, like heart disease.

However, one of the more important takeaways is this: eating a plant-based diet gives your more frequent and stronger erections. Eating even one meal with animal foods decreases your endothelial function (the endotheliam is the name for the cells that line your blood vessels). One meal of animals foods decreases blood flow throughout the entire body, including some of the smallest blood vessels that flow to the penis.

In one of the funniest parts of the film, the doctor (who literally wrote the book on penises) tests the overnight erection activity (frequency and size) of three college athletes, first after a meal containing animal foods, and then the following night after a meal of plant-based proteins.

The results are pretty spectacular, and definitely laugh-out-loud funny for all involved. These results are also (I hope) a huge wake up call for any men (and for lovers of men!), and for anyone on the fence about vegetarianism or who thinks that being a vegan/vegetarian makes you wimpy – which could not be farther from the truth. As you can see in the film, eating plants makes you stronger and, um, you know, bigger.

OK, so let’s just say you don’t care about sex or sexual function. There are still other great reasons to consider plant-based diets for personal and planetary health. As the doctors and high-level athletes in the film explain, athletes have been able to run faster, lift more, endure longer, and heal faster on a plant-based diet. Some of the standouts include a recovering athlete doing a gym workout that was previous hard to do for a half hour… and which he now can do for an hour easily. Or the Roman gladiators, who ate predominantly vegetarian diets. Or the football team that had 14 members on a vegan diet and had their best, strongest season ever.

The film also features the literal strongest man in the world, Patrik Baboumian, explaining how his vegan diet makes him stronger and able to break world records repeatedly. And the other benefits are astounding: Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 firefighting team in New York that saw guys dropping their cholesterol by 100 points in just a week, or the 40-year-old Olympic racer (a female) who became one of the oldest gold medalists ever.

I think it’s also important to note that this film, while contradicting some of the meat-is-manly tropes, could be criticized for pushing the idea that muscles and strength as one of the primary markers of manliness – which is another version of stereotypical masculinity. Muscles alone do not equal manliness or masculinity, and these attributes are not the only things that make men worthy, valuable, and/or sexually appealing. Strength, stamina, and general fitness are important to keep our bodies healthy and functioning well as we age, not (just) because it makes us ‘sexier.’ As the female athletes in the film show, strength and endurance doesn’t have to be monopolized by men only, and I’d like to add that men can still be sexy if they aren’t built like the super muscular men featured in the film.

Please watch the preview below, and then watch the whole thing for FREE on Netflix! If you don’t have Netflix, you can watch on Amazon, but it costs $3.99 to ‘rent.’

The trailer features one of the world’s most famous strongmen, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who’s made some big headlines recently about his environmental activism – including his vegan diet. When I told CleanTechnica’s Founder & CEO (a 30-year vegetarian himself) that I was writing this article, he wanted to be sure to mention that even though Arnold ate a terrible meat-focused diet for 50 years and then turned his diet around doesn’t mean you should, too. As our Director (also a lifetime veg-head) likes to say, “When you know better, you have the opportunity to do better.”

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I'm a marketing and sales professional focused on mission-driven businesses. I'm a journalist, green investor, wellness educator, surfer, and yogi. Find delicious food and wellness stuff on my Instagram @VibrantWellness.


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