By Roderick Diamond II
In a world where food affects so many aspects of life and the planet, what difference can a meat-free diet make?
The current Netflix film “The Game Changers” debunks myths, research and misconceptions presented about such diets. Dr. Terry Mason, COO of the Cook County Department of Public Health, drove home these points during his talk before the recent screening at DePaul University’s Center for Animal Law and Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter.
The film, released in September, is based on the journey of mixed martial artist James Wilks. Wilks explores plant-based dieting from the perspectives of some of the world’s best athletes and everyday people.
Strongman Patrik Baboumian laid it on the line. “How do you get strong as an ox if you don’t eat meat?” he is asked in the film. His response: “Have you seen an ox eat meat?
Wilks, as narrator of the film, stresses the point that the animals we eat are basically the middlemen of food. The protein we get from them comes from the plants that they eat and that plant protein is highly recommended for our health.
Mason makes a quick cameo in the film, challenging the misinformation presented by the huge meat industry.
“The misdirection is purposeful, because the misdirection is to continue to support what we’ve been taught and what we’ve been taught has been wrong,” Mason says in the film, a point he emphasized in his talk as well. “We begin to look at the impact of what eating meat, eggs and dairy can do from a negative point of view where we got total science on this. Then you can make a better decision based on facts and not based on fiction.”
During his talk before the screening, Mason said he is a huge supporter of a plant-based diet, and has followed plant-based eating for a decade.
“You are responsible for what you put into your mouth and what you choose to put in your mouth. Then we want you to be educated about what you are being given or what product it is that you bought, on what it really is and what it really does,” he said. “The plant diet is the one thing that can help save our planet, save our water, save our streams and save us.”
The idea for the event came from the DefaultVeg program at DePaul.
Brittany Jocius, the secretary of DePaul Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter, said she wanted to get the word out about plant-based diets as a way to prevent animal cruelty.
“You can put a presentation up and talk to people all day long, but at the end of the day a presentation can go in one ear and out the other said,” Jocius. “Whereas a film, it’s very in your face, it’s very informative, it’s very wholesome that you can see every aspect of a plant based diet can do for you.”
After the film, the program featured a plant-based diet buffet that included banana vegan cupcakes and buffalo cauliflower bites. The DePaul organization also plans to send representatives to Springfield to lobby for environmental and animal protection laws.
Photo at top: Dr. Terry Mason, chief operating officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health, stressed the impact a meat-free diet could have on human health, animal well-being and the planet in a talk before the film screening. (Brett Davinger/DePaul Center for Animal Law)