Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oprah going vegan

Hot news

Oprah and her staff complete a one-week vegan challenge!

It's good publicity for the vegan cause, and you couldn't get more mainstream.

The results
There were some participants who said they would  continue, and another seemed really happy with his weight loss.  We didn't hear from Oprah on her future plans. No "I'm never going to eat another animal again!" moment.  That's a shame, because she has real pull.

There was some lip-service about "awareness" but it would be interesting to do a followup one year on to see if anything sticks.  We all know about honeymoon periods for changes in diet.

The food
Michael Pollan (Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food) and Kathy Freston (The Veganist) were the resident food experts.  They wouldn't have been in my top 5 choices, but they do have some real credibility.  But for all the pictures of fruits and veggies, and declarations and more on how packaged and processed food was a major problem (for Michael, more so than meat), the menu was chock full of highly processed tastebud tickling vegan treats.  Meat and cheese substitutes twice a day and "Here's a smoothie with broccoli so you won't have to taste it..."

This was the vegan diet that meat-eaters try to beat us up with when they say "vegan diets aren't necessarily any better for you or the planet than eating meat."

Cows living off I-5 in California (my photo, 2003)  Pastoral?
Those horrible facts 
Their slaughterhouse footage was sanitised and you could see the reporter becoming acclimatised: from her thoughtfulness when looking at the hopeless bored feedlot cows, watching them march through a calming tunnel to their deaths, horror when watching the bolt through the heads (not allowed to film that of course, or the sticking to drain all the blood out) and the flaying of the corpses, to a state of calm or relief as the cows were cut into pieces of flesh that looked familiar - you'd see that in the butcher or supermarket.
Gee, all I can see is more cows - they must love it there.

Compare this with the avalanche of footage captured when activists come with their cameras unannounced.

Warning: real and unsanitised stuff coming up.

Grade?  C-
This is the "vegan challenge" designed by people who don't believe that anybody could really like a healthy vegan diet.

This is the "vegan challenge" taken by people who feel no personal motivation to become vegan.

But extra credit to Oprah for bringing the message to so many, and having her whole team experience the possibilities too.  I'm glad she did it.

How would you have designed this challenge?


  1. Not only a few staffers but her Director said he'd keep with it. That's something. It was not perfect by any means, but as a vegan and activist for 20 years I think this is huge progress. So many people hav never been exposed to this subject at all!
    And, good news Kathy Frestons book 'The Veganist' is #1 on Amazon. Michael Pollan #17. ha!

  2. Hi teagen - that is good news! I didn't have access to the entire show so I am glad to be corrected. Thanks for posting that...