Jess Parsons

Jess Parsons

Posted February 3, 2011

Published in Celebrities

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Oprah going vegan

Read More: Freston, Oprah, processed food, produce, slaughterhouse, vegan, weight loss

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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

Most of the participants said they met the challenge.  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 Oprah inspires.  And what if Oprah could find the physical health she has sought for so many years in a vegan diet?

There was a lot of lip-service about "awareness."  I want to see 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 (Pollan is not even a vegan), but they do have some real visibility. 

But for all the pictures of fruits and veggies, and declarations and more on how packaged and processed food was the 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 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-

It's a pass.

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 Comment | Leave a comment


I didn't actually watch the show so should probably not respond, but I did hear about it from a friend who knows I am working with my dad to switch to a plant based diet to improve his health. I told the folks to watch and while my dad happened to nap through the program, my mom viewed it and gave me some of her thoughts on the show. I was afraid that it would be handled in the manner it was.

From her recounting, it sounded like they covered most of the issues but it felt a bit like a superficial look-see. She mentioned the broccoli smoothie and some lady saying she didn't want to eat straw for the rest of her life (I'm sure that got lots of laughs). Like you said, nice to see veganism getting some mainstream play, but give the people something to think about and inspire them to adopt a plant-based diet. By all means, show us the raw footage and lets hear the great news about sustaining great health for the people and the planet by going vegan.

I'm not familiar with Kathy Freston, but yes, why not have vegans on a show about veganism. I like the idea of maybe Jonathan Safran Foer (for the environmental/animal angle) and Dean Ornish or McDougall for the health angle. Really there are so many it seems. Maybe Tracey McQuirter of By Any Greens Necessary fame could have pointed out the benefits to the African American population in particular. I like Rip Esselstyn and his work with firefighters. The clips of the Dr. Oz shows posted here on Vegsource are very useful in showing the good eating, good-for-your-body aspect for the males especially who may tune in.

I'm not a talk show viewer though. Maybe this was as good as it gets with this venue.

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