They are the real ‘Game Changers‘

Could the Netflix documentary ‘Game Changers’ be responsible for Hyderabad’s ‘most vegan-friendly city’ tag?

Updated - November 25, 2019 10:54 am IST

Published - November 21, 2019 03:52 pm IST

Wondering what you are missing out on in the world of food and beverage? News is, it is not a dish, a restaurant or the latest exotic cocktail, it is a Netflix show, Game Changers! A documentary on a plant-based diet, Game Changers is dominating conversations at lunches and dinners across age groups — millennials included — curiosity getting better of them to know who is into veganism.

Directed by Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Louie Psihoyos, with James Cameron for executive producer, the documentary features personalities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic, and Chris Paul who are in favour of a vegan diet. If that is not enough to put forth a convincing discussion in favour of plant-based diet, the show features elite athletes, special ops soldiers, visionary scientists, cultural icons, and everyday heroes talking of their understanding of food and their definition of true strength. Their arguments, backed by food and nutrition facts are compelling discussions and are able to convince even hard core meat eaters to give plant-based food a try.

In the show Arnold explains: “I ate a lot of meat. They show those commercials selling that idea that real men eat meat. But you’ve got to understand that’s marketing. That’s not based on reality.” Lewis Hamilton adds: “We all wanna look great, have more energy.” Also when Patrik Baboumian, a former body builder and vegan strong man says, “Have you ever seen an ox eat meat?” the meat and strength correlation goes for a toss.

The documentary that largely aims at Western food habits where everything comes out of a freezer, it is making viewers in India rethink their food habits. In India, it’s not so impossible to go vegan, goes the premise.

One finds at chef’s tables, the discussion is either how to turn vegan or who has given up on animal products. Interestingly it is meat-eaters who are saying that shifting to a plant-based diet isn’t all that tough. Dhanesh Sharma of Terrassen cafe says, “Think about it. Do we always have bacon and ham for breakfast? Each region of our country has its own traditional breakfast.None of it consists of cereal, eggs or processed meat. Indian breakfast dishes are mostly made of rice, lentils or wheat in some form. Switch to lunch — we have rice, millets or wheat and pulses and vegetables. Most Indian lunches don’t comprise steak or a sandwich. With lifestyle changes and the discovery of newer tastes, we do have a burger, a sandwich or even a steak, but it is absolutely easy for an Indian to switch to a plant-based diet.” .

Indian food history

Perhaps the term ‘plant-based’ makes most Indians become apprehensive. Plant-based shouldn’t be confused with raw vegan that mostly consists of raw plant produce. For Shiv Bhasin, national marketing head at SodaBottleOpernerwala, the show was an eye opener, it cleared a lot of his own doubts. His switch was easy and he enjoys narrating his story. “I didn’t even eat a celebratory farewell non-veg dinner. Game Changers opened my mind to the variety I can enjoy. All I had to do was give up animal products. The argument Game Changers put forward is convincing argument without being ‘in-your-face’ about animal cruelty. At the end of the day, we all working for a healthy and better life, and if that is easier without meat, why not?” argues Shiv whose friends have been similarly affected by the show. Shiv is discovering and enjoying a whole new range of dishes and flavours. “My wife is a Jain, so I just follow what she eats and it is working well for me. We live with a notion that meat makes us strong and healthy, but look at Arnold Schwarzenegger; he is still lifting insane weights at the age of 72,” he adds.

Aarti Gill, Co-founder of OZiva a plant-based nutrition brand says “People often believe plant are an incomplete source of protein; that they don't have all essential amino acids. This is not true. By mixing different plant protein sources, you can ensure that you are getting all the amino acids. Our diet is very carb heavy, with very limited sources of protein. Around 70% of Indians are protein-deficientup to 80%. We eat a lot of empty calories that do not provide nutrition needed to maintain an active lifestyle.”

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