Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oprah's Vegan Challenge

I have to give credit where credit is due and I think a lot is due from this show. Though I'm not vegan, I do read a lot of vegan sites, blogs and materials and my dairy is very limited. I thought this was a great experiment and I was glad that so many Oprah staffers gave it a try. Go vegan for one week.

So let's get to the credit. Oprah gets a lot here. For starters the fact that she will even mention meat on her show after being sued by the cattle ranchers in Texas all those years ago means she deserves a ton of credit. Even with all of her money and influence I know that was a tough time for her and I'm sure she's in no hurry to repeat it. She does choose her words and her guests carefully, but just taking on the issue is impressive. She also deserves credit for making sure her staff had access to the food they would need for the week at the studio cafeteria. I also think it's great that she agreed to continue serving vegan options at the studio as well as going with Meatless Monday. Kudos to Oprah.

Michael Pollan. Let me just make it very clear that I have a huge crush on him and I think he's awesome. He is not a vegetarian or a vegan but he is a "food rockstar" as Oprah called him. More kudos to Oprah for having him on since he isn't vegan or even vegetarian and that was the premise of the show. A lot of vegans are unhappy with him because he tried to "push meat". I didn't feel that way at all, in fact, I didn't feel like he had enough time to talk. The truth is, American's are NOT going to give up eating meat no matter how many shows Oprah does on the subject. So Pollan is right when he says that we need to revamp the current system not turn our backs on it. There are still farms out there who treat their animals with respect, feed them the things they were made to eat, and kill them humanely. We need to encourage and support these farmers. If American's are going to eat meat, these are the people they should be getting it from, not factory farms. He also gets a lot of credit for not losing his shit on the Cargill lady because I'm betting he wanted to.

Cargill...yeah I'll give them credit. But only a little. First, they came on a show about veganism so that was brave to begin with. Second, they let cameras into the slaughterhouse. Now I feel that this was largely due to the fact that they use the system designed by Temple Grandin so they know that their method is not as traumatic for the public. They agreed when no one else did so I'll give them credit for that. I'll also give them credit for using Grandin's system which is a lot better than other systems. However, I can't ignore the fact that these animals still likely lived in horrible conditions before they made it there and were fed things they have no business eating. Not to mention all the things they were injected with to keep them healthy until their death. And, they didn't know the "knocker" doing his job or mention that if he didn't do it properly then the cow goes on to have his throat slit while still awake. But Cargill came, so I'll give them credit.

Kathy Freston. She was kind of annoying, but she has a pretty face so she's a good face for the vegan lifestyle. She did mention that slaughterhouses for chickens, fish and pork are not designed by Grandin which I thought was very important. She did a pretty good job of helping the staffers through the week and gave them alternatives to what they normally eat that were meatless.

McDonald's and Temple Grandin. I hate McDonald's and I feel like they are primarily to blame for the factory farm system that we have today. Not just with meat, but with other products as well. But, they're not going anywhere. So, I give them credit for going to Grandin and having her design a more humane way to slaughter the cows for their hamburgers. It's a small step in the right direction, but it is a step and so I'll give them some credit for that. The more we demand from McDonald's the more they will be forced to change. Temple Grandin is just plain awesome. If we're going to have factory farms and slaughterhouses them I'm glad she is around to share her animal expertise and her knowledge of how she feels as an autistic person to design systems to make these animals more comfortable in their last moments. The video from Cargill showed that her system really does make the animals calmer.

Overall I think that this show put a lot of light on our food system and the benefits of going meatless even once a week. I think it was a huge win for animals!


  1. I also really like Temple Grandin and have read one of her books, which I found really interesting. Did you know she was here in the Valley just recently? Wish I could've gone to see her talk. I think the show they taped is airing on PBS this week:
    Yep, Feb. 4.

  2. I saw that she was here but by the time I did the event was sold out. Thanks for the link, I'll try to catch that!