Oprah’s Vegan Show

I DVR’ed The Oprah Winfrey Show from Tuesday where she and her staff went vegan for 7 days.  I got a chance to watch it today.  Did any of you catch it?

My thoughts:

  1. I would love to sit down with Michael Pollen for dinner. He is one of my heroes.
  2. I wish I worked for a company that gave big bags of vegan food to their employees.
  3. The meat plant tour was tough to watch.  I worked in the food industry (not with meat products) for 6 years and know first hand how you get a plant ready for inspection.  I can’t imagine the amount of work that went into getting it ready for Oprah Winfrey’s cameras to come into and film.  You better believe that was the very cleanest, most efficient, most ideal day that plant has ever had.  Every employee was on their absolute best behavior.  Every surface was likely pristine.  What you also have to know is that I’ve never been in a production facility that runs ‘inspection ready’ on a daily basis.  It’s not efficient or feasible.
  4. It’s important to note that Cargill specifically chose that plant and even Michael Pollen alluded to the new technology present in that facility.  The majority of slaughterhouses are not that ‘pretty.’  Killing animals and butchering their carcasses at high speeds is not something any of us really want to see.
  5. Was I the only one nervous for the meat plant employees?  You know those huge knives and butchering equipment have to miss their mark at times and injure the humans.
  6. After reading Eating Animals (which I highly recommend) and Omnivore’s Dilemma (which is also awesome), I know more about the different types of conditions that the different animals experience.  In Eating Animals, the author (who is a vegetarian) says something to the effect of ‘if you must eat animals, eat cows.’  Basically because they at least spend some of their life in fields, in the outside and experience some of their natural life cycle.  Granted most are feed foods they aren’t designed to eat and are therefore often sick, but they do see some sunshine.  Poultry and Pigs, on the other hand, don’t see the light of day.  Their entire lives, birth to death, are inhumane and miserable.  Read about it.  It will shock you.  So, I think if Oprah had shown a poultry facility, I think it would have been staggering and disgusted the audience.  Seeing chickens crammed into pens with several other chickens, with their beaks cut off and their feet often cut off, seeing them scalded alive (and releasing their feces and other wastes into the water that washes all the chickens and THEY ALL SOAK UP) on their way to packaging would turn more than one person away from eating chicken.
  7. I really didn’t like the grocery shopping segment where Kathy bought mostly processed vegan products.  Yes, no animals were harmed in the making, but I don’t think it is the healthiest way to eat vegan. I have loved finding the vegan and vegetarian blogging community where there is such passion behind whole vegan/vegetarian foods.  Grains, legumes, greens, beans and the like.  Those foods are good for you and the animals.
  8. I like how they showed staffers with a variety of impressions of the vegan diet.  The lady who was cranky without her fast food made me smile.  Fast food is addictive and it does take time to wean yourself off of it, especially if it is a daily habit.  That’s also a situation where I think eating vegan processed products may be unsatisfying.  A vegan/vegetarian burger will never taste like a fast food burger.  Expecting it too will lead to dissatisfaction.  I would recommend someone weaning off fast food to eat entirely different foods altogether (like veggie wraps, soups, ethnic veggie dishes), so you aren’t expecting vegan foods to taste the same as their meat/dairy counterpart.
  9. I liked Michael Pollan’s point about changing the meat industry, not eliminating it.  I don’t think a meat free society is remotely realistic, as much as I’d love it.  So, if meat is going to be consumed, let’s create enough demand for the right kind of meat industry.  I love his point about voting with our forks three times a day.  The food companies are listening.  Farmers are listening.  If there is enough demand for a product, a supply will be created.
  10. How much did Kellogg’s leadership squeal when Oprah declared “I love Kashi?” They loved that moment.  What will consumer packaged goods companies do when Oprah is no longer around to bring her magic, her golden endorsement to their product?

What are your thoughts?

There is a good review over at Oh She Glows with some good discussion in the comments.


13 responses to this post.

  1. that was a great show! i, too, love michael pollan. did you know he’s the brother of tracy pollan(michael j. fox’s wife)?
    yeah-processed vegan food isn’t ideal, but at least they made a point that it’s a good “transition” food.


  2. All the bloggie reviews I have personally read have been really well versed and show a good re-cap of the show (which I didn’t see) I was just talking to Ryan last night about how Michael Pollen is my hero. 🙂


  3. I don’t think I could agree with you more on everything!!! I love Michael Pollen 🙂


  4. I recorded it and just watched it this morning. I ran to the bathroom, cried and then threw up. I can’t *un-know* what I know now. I’m changing my life, not sure where to start, but I can’t go back.


  5. Good points.

    Just in a rebuttal to your comment on my blog, I do know that some of my readers are NOT vegan because they are my personal friends/family that don’t comment often. So I know I am not just preaching to the vegan audience. Most of the people I know in real life are not vegan so I realize where they are coming from. However, I would still not choose to withhold the real harsh truth from them.


  6. I’m really bummed that I missed this show. I’ll have to try to find it online. Your write up is great though, thank you!


  7. Posted by Kerri on February 4, 2011 at 2:03 am

    I posted on your other blog, but had another thought. You made a good point about how they cleaned up the slaughterhouse, but I thought their PR person was great. Do you think she was just giving talking points or was she really trying to explain what they were trying to do?


    • She definitely had some serious training as to what to say and how to word it. I don’t think most slaughterhouse workers are malicious, nor is it in the meat companies best interest to have stressed out, revolting animals. Still, it’s a messy business and hard to be humane and cost efficient at the same time. What do you think?


  8. I didn’t see it as I live down under, but perhaps they will show it here soon or maybe I could see it on youtube?
    If that’s what Michael Pollen said about the meat industry, I totally agree. I think it’s futile to try and make all people vegetarian or vegan, but it is much easier to make them aware and perhaps purchase free range meat from farms that care about animal welfare while they are alive. Even reducing meat consumption would help!


  9. Posted by Kate on February 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    i didn’t see this show but really want to. i need to find it online somewhere. reading about it has got me curious!


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