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First it was the movie Food Inc., making us pause to think about what we, as a nation, eat, and how it is produced. Then we feasted on Forks Over Knives, a documentary that “examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the chronic diseases that afflict us can be controlled or even reversed by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.”1 Now we are being served Game Changers, an engaging film executive produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan (amongst others), that “documents the explosive rise of plant-based eating in professional sports.”

While all these food-focused documentaries are eye opening (and at times shocking,) we were particularly interested in some of the discussion points in the Game Changers movie as it explores the lives of several high-performing athletes who follow plant-based diets. Here were our top four takeaways.

We often lack insight into how the products we buy are sourced. Fair Trade gives us all the reassurance that we are supporting an ethical and sustainable supply chain.

Kashi has been buying fair trade cocoa since 2015, and you can find Fair Trade Certified™ ingredients in 18 of our products now. Although we buy cocoa from other sources as well, we are adding fair trade cocoa to new products where we can (we added another four in 2018.) Your support of these has allowed us as a company to invest nearly $184,000 back into the local communities!

To shine a light on Fair Trade this month, we checked in with Gesina Beckert, Senior Manager CPG at Fair Trade USA to talk a little more about how fair trade works and why it’s so important.

 

SOME OF THE WORLD’S TOP ATHLETES ADHERE TO PLANT-BASED DIETS

This stands true for a whole spectrum of athletes, from tennis players (such as Serena Williams) to MMA fighters and soccer players. Here are just some of the athletes featured in the documentary.

Scott Jurek: Record Holding Ultra Runner

Scott is the fastest person to ever run the entire Appalachian trail. The trail usually takes people five to seven months to complete. The challenge was the equivalent of running two marathons a day — through technical terrain— and Scott completed it in 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes, breaking the previous record by three hours.

Carl Lewis: Olympic Sprinter and Long Jumper

Carl holds nine Olympic gold medals to his name and has been voted “World Athlete of the Century” by the International Association of Athletics Federations. Carl changed to a vegan diet during his career and set his personal best at 30 years old after the switch.

Dotsie Bausch: Eight-time US National Cycling Champion

When Dotsie changed to an entirely plant-based diet, she wasn’t sure how it would affect her. It turns out that she found her recovery to be faster after switching and believes it is key to being a better athlete. At 39 years old, Dotsie was the oldest person — male or female — to go to the Olympic Games in her event. She attributes her success there in part to her diet.

Patrick Baboumian: One of the strongest men on the planet.

Patrick stopped eating meat in 2005. He has set four world records and just keeps on getting stronger. He most recently won the World Strongman Event, lifting 1223 pounds of weight — pretty much like lifting a horse — and set an official Guiness World Record.

Nate Diaz: Professional MMA Fighter

When Nate beat Conor McGregor during a hugely publicized UFC fight in 2016, it was the biggest shock in UFC history. Nate is outspoken about his plant-based diet and has been a vegan since he was 18.

Morgan Mitchell: 2-Time Australian 400m Champion

Morgan became an Olympian for the 400m in 2016, but two years later her decision to switch to a plant-based diet went hand-in-hand with her move to take on the 800m race. Since then she has repeatedly beaten her personal bests, and believes she recovers faster now thanks to her diet.

Derrick Morgan: NFL Linebacker for the Tennessee Titans

Derrick decided to change to a wholly plant-based diet to help with his recovery and inflammation. He soon started to realize he wasn’t getting as sore or swollen after training, and when he got his blood tested six months after being on the diet, his inflammation markers and his cholesterol had gone down. Other players started following suit, consuming vegan meals cooked by Derrick’s chef wife, Charity Morgan. That season, the Titans had their best season in 15 years — notably with roughly 14 players following plant based diets.

 

IT TAKES 2400 LITERS OF WATER TO PRODUCE ONE BURGER

Take a second and re-read that. In a world facing an ever-growing water crisis, this was a shocking number. So shocking, in fact, that we weren’t convinced, so we checked out a few additional sources to see if it rang true. This article by the World Economic Forum backs it up. If you want to find out more individualized information about your own water usage based on your personal habits and diet, check out this great Calculator Tool here. (If you’re interested in seeing how Kashi employees did during a recent water challenge, check out our post here.)

 

HUMAN BODIES ARE MORE SIMILAR TO HERBIVORES THAN CARNIVORES IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

It turns out the view of our paleolithic ancestors as big meat eaters might be an outdated one. According to Dr Richard Wrangham, Chair of Biological Anthropology, at Harvard University, “Plant foods were more important than the archeological records give credit for.”

Our long digestive tracts are more in line with herbivores in the animal kingdom, than the short digestive tracts of carnivores. Also, humans don’t have the ability to make their own vitamin C, leaving us reliant upon plants to get it. Even our eyesight — where we see in multiple colors — could point to us being better suited to a plant based diet, a critical element in identifying fresh, ripe fruit and vegetables. The researchers in the documentary go on to explain that humans’ big brains needs glucose — and the most efficient way to get it is with carbohydrates, while our teeth are square and low cusp, which makes them perfect for crushing and grinding tough plant tissues. Carnivore teeth, by comparison, are shaped like scissor blades so they can shred meat easily.

So are humans meant to be carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores? You’ll find arguments on all sides of this discussion, but the points raised in this documentary are, without doubt, interesting.

 

ARNOLD SCHWARZNEGGER IS ON A MISSION TO REDUCE MEAT CONSUMPTION

We couldn’t resist this one! Arnie — world champion bodybuilder, actor, governor and environmentalist -- is committed to eating less meat. In his own words, “Surprisingly, I started feeling better, didn’t lose strength, and my doctors are in heaven. These are all things that I want the world to know.” His cholesterol is the lowest it has been in his life. Let’s not underestimate the volte-face this is for a man who used to eat 10-15 eggs a day and weighed 250 pounds during his heyday. He now realizes he doesn’t need to get his protein from animals even though that was a commonly accepted “truth” back in his bodybuilding days.

So there you have it. Just four of the things we found interesting when we watched the documentary. There’s a lot more to it so if you’re interested in what you put in your body and how it might be affecting you, why not grab the (vegan) “chicken” wings, invite your crew, and decide for yourself. You can find Game Changers on Netflix.