Oprah Goes Vegan(ish)…Again

February 2nd, 2011 by NashVeggie Leave a reply »

So the time rolls around again and I hear the talk of the upcoming event, Oprah is doing another show on veganism. The Twitter is aflutter and people just can’t rock their socks loud enough to get the word out. Now listen people, Oprah isn’t going vegan. Don’t get so excited to think that the Queen of Materialism is about to put a Vita-Mix and a lifetime supply of Earth Balance under the seat of everyone in her audience and spew forth the news that she will shed her life of all animal meat edibles. No, I’m so sorry to say that won’t happen, nor did it. These are just some quick thoughts on the show that I have.

Yes I watched the show, reluctantly and only to prove to myself that I was right. All I saw was a TV show skimp over an issue while sugar coating everything, “Oh, yes it isn’t easy.”, “We’re only doing it for one week but we’ll make it with these food replacements.”, “No, they don’t taste good.” Enough! First, if you want to show the virtues of a vegan diet, and diet was all you touched as veganism is so much more, if you want to show how great a vegan diet can be get off the processed fake meat replacements!

When a woman pushed the point of having eggs as long as they are from “happy hens”, Oprah’s guest Kathy Freston, a self-proclaimed “veganist” said yes, sure. Now, I’m all for allowing whomever to eat whatever they choose but if you’re calling yourself a “veganist” the least you could do is serve up so well-intentioned facts on why one shouldn’t eat those eggs. Opportunity missed. At the end of the show Freston goes through Whole Foods promoting every processed and prepackaged food she can get her hands on. Apparently, she doesn’t care about how delicious and nutritious fresh veggies are and how absolutely easy the are to prepare. I’ll go out on a limb and say Kathy Freston is as fake a vegan as the fake meats she pushed.

Michael Pollan, who only serves to cuddle the guilt-ridden meat eater and pat them on the back all the while telling them thier corpse ingestion is not the greatest thing but a little bit two or three times a week is OK, seemingly tells the audience that eat all the meat you want as long as it’s from Cargill as they have the cleanest factory farms and slaughter-machines in the nation.

As far as taking people into a slaughterhouse and showing what happens to the cow pre-steak that’s great. I think everyone should see that but that entire segment seemed to show reasons why it was OK to eat meat. Is Oprah scared of the meat industry now after her run ins a few years back? Michael Pollan did nothing but say what a great job Cargill does and stroke the executive sitting next to him.

There are vegans that think this was great publicity and getting the vegan word to the masses. It was the wrong message. This did nothing for veganism as the vegan message was toned down through the course of the show from full vegan diet to eating meat to 2-3 times a week, to vegan-ish (whatever that is) and finally just settling on Meatless Mondays. This was not a show on veganism as much as it was a show on a diet leaning toward plant-based. Veganism is about so much more than food, don’t count on Oprah to ever understand that.

In the end the episode did more to show reasons why your SHOULD eat meat than reasons to adopt a vegan diet, not to mention the vegan lifestyle it didn’t even touch on.  From allowing, and agreeing, that Cargill puts out a good product, animals get a dignified death and vegan food doesn’t taste good as shown by staffers in line at the Harpo cafeteria eating processed junk the loud message was “meat is OK”.

Did you watch the show? What are your thoughts? Were you a meat eater that has been transformed by this? Are you a vegan who thinks there is potential in what Oprah does for veganism? Let me know, agree or disagree I would love to hear from you.



  1. Brian Woz says:

    I’ve learned you can only pique someone’s interest in veganism, you can’t make it stick. that person has to make the change themselves. Honestly, as powerful an influence as Oprah is, not even she can make the average slob give up his/her chicken wings. Probably doesn’t help that her advertisers are pitching Big Macs and Yogurt.

  2. NashVeggie says:

    The person has to change themselves. I completely agree. Preaching will get you nowhere but showing how easy and rewarding the change could be can be beneficial, neither of which the show did.

  3. Lindsey says:

    I agree with almost everything you said. However, I do believe that vegan substitute products can help encourage some people to go vegan. It was wrong the show focused on only those types of products in the very *little* bit of time the show actually focused on vegan eating. They should have included both the vegan processed foods AND ways of eating vegan without processed foods to appeal to people who go vegan just for the animals but aren’t really interested in changing much about how their diet currently is and for the people who are doing it mainly for health, respectively.

  4. 2boys says:

    Hmm…interesting perspective. In all honesty, this show simply proved that I *can* make simple substitutes that are equally healthy (if not more) without having to “shock” my current eating habits. I think this show simply increased AWARENESS of what we put in our bodies and ways to make our eating habits better. I’m uncertain that it intended to swing the pendulum from one end to the next. Which is something I can appreciate.

    I’m a full on meat eater, so are my kids. Would I like to make a few changes? Absolutely. Did this show implant the seed to get the thought process going? Absolutely.

    Problem is, so many of us don’t even know where to start. WTH is a Boca burger? Tofurkey? And what does this stuff even taste like? How do I prep it? Heard of it but never took the extra step to pick it up, read the labeling let alone TASTE it. Did Freston answer some of my questions about it? Absolutely. At best, it piqued my interest and I *just* may purchase it the next time there’s a sale on it.

    What I DON’T appreciate is the constant push for chains like whole foods and trader joe’s to support healthy eating. Those places are RIDICULOUSLY expensive. I’d hate to think that a vegetarian or vegan-like diet can’t succeed without being loyal to those stores.

    I too would’ve preferred a stroll down a local farmer’s market with tips on what to purchase, tips on how to cook it and a price comparison for making basic changes to our diets.

    Overrall, I think the show did well in INTRODUCING the OPPORTUNITIES families or individuals can make to begin changing their diets. Showing a little bit of everything IMHO was a great start. It made the content relatable. Had the show been a total dive on full fledged vegan people and their lifestyles, while it’s uber healthy, the average person does not identify with that. I appreciated that the show maintained a tone of allowing the viewer to make “personal choices”.

    Thanks for the opportunity to voice my opinion on this! 🙂

  5. lauren says:

    They should have taken a different approach to the topic and shown more diversity and “real” vegetarians and vegans lifestyle. That would have been much more encouraging and interesting. I also think that the “fake meats” are a great way to get away from eating meat products. It’s such a norm socially and eating with a family to have meat in most American homes. For example, the veggie hot dog. I haven’t eaten a real hot dog since I was a little kid. When I discovered fake hot dogs at a Reds game in college I was so excited. I felt like I was really at a baseball game doing what everyone else enjoyed doing. Its nice to have a substitute to meat on occasion- like baseball games 🙂

    like your site!

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