Daily Archives: February 1, 2011

Oprah Goes Vegan

I’m trying something new today with this post – let’s call it blogging in real time.  

I rarely watch Oprah, but today’s episode caught my interest: “Oprah and 378 Staffers Go Vegan: The One-Week Challenge.” I’m jotting notes during the show, then will do a quick edit at the end and add in links…then up she’ll go onto the website!

3:58 p.m. – TV on!

The challenge, as described by Oprah, is to consume nothing that comes from an animal for seven full days. Oprah invited the staff of Harpo Productions to participate, and 378 staffers volunteered. Day one – her staff receives gift bags from Whole Foods and Kashi – I’d be motivated to take on the challenge, too, after being bribed with gifties from these two healthy food Super Powers!

What I’m hoping to see in today’s show: how Oprah and her staff found the seven days’ experience most interests me. Did most people find it tough? easy? any cravings?

4:05 p.m. – first guest: Michael Pollan, Journalist and Food Expert

– he still eats meat 1-2 times a week, just is picky about where he gets it from

– the concern is with how much preventable disease Americans have, how much processed food is eaten

4:13 p.m. – tour of a meat processing plant. Lisa Ling reports from the Cargill slaughterhouse. The bolt to the head (to kill the cattle) is not shown, but the carcasses hanging from the ceiling, is. [I found this report to be respectful and fair journalism; rep from Cargill plant stresses that they never forget the dignity of the animal].

4:26 Oprah tries a variety of vegan snacks [they all look great!]

– Oprah can’t taste the broccoli in the smoothie! Oprah loves Kashi [can’t you see it? Ka-ching for Kashi sales!!]

4:27 p.m. guest Kathy Freston, author of “Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World

– where do you get your protein?? asks Oprah. Beans, legumes, tofu, seitan, tempeh, says Kathy. There are lots of options/sources.

4:33 p.m. Harpo Productions cafe is going to do Meatless Monday from now on. Kathy and Michael think this is a great way to ease into the lifestyle.

– Michael worries about the effect of veganism on farmers; also, he’s concerned that people will flip over to refined carbohydrates on a vegan diet, which in itself, is not healthy

– Kathy says it’s not her business to tell anyone how to eat

– Oprah’s not ready to commit to the whole thing; maybe she’ll be “vegan-ish!”

Humourous Moment I: Oprah asks director, Joe, how his bowel movements have been – “great!” says Joe [gee, thanks! TMI, much?!]

4:37 p.m. Real Life Moment: Staffer Monica gives a b!tchy opinion of her meatless burger; Kathy soothingly calms her, stating nothing is going to taste good if you’re addicted to fast food. It’s like trying to take alcohol away from an alcoholic.

4:41 p.m. Kathy’s easy alternatives for your family’s meals: Staffer Jill and her daughter go to Whole Foods for vegan options to thie supper staples: pizza and spaghetti with meat sauce. Kathy promotes the idea of leading in to a vegan lifestyle. Products Kathy suggests:

Daiya cheese [I’ve bought it! it IS delicious]

Gardein brand meat substitutes [the sodium would be my concern…]

Tofurkey sausages pulsed in food processor to make “meat sauce” for spaghetti

– soy, almond, rice milks [I love almond milk, although the nutrient stats cannot match organic cow’s milk, IMO]

Vegenaise [tried a sister product – tastes like mayo]

Earth Balance [tried it! does taste just like butter!]

[Very happy to see that the products mentioned on the show are readily available in my neighbourhood, despite the fact that I’m not in the U.S., and I do not have easy access to Whole Foods].

Humourous Moment II: Staffer Jill’s Family Feedback on the “meatless sauce:” husband: “it was awful.” son’s response to ‘did you like it?’ “NO!” (stated emphatically).

My opinion of this show: very balanced, fair look at both the benefits and downfalls of vegan and omnivore diets.

4:50 p.m. Feedback from the Staffers [this is what I was hoping for!…]: Kathy cheated on pizza; Lesia very excited to eat an egg tomorrow; Rich lost 11 pounds in one week – ate horribly before the challenge, now he doesn’t – migraines gone; Tommy lost 5 lbs, going to continue in to February [I want to hear Oprah’s opinion! She never does end up sharing how she fared…]

Staff stats: 444 lbs lost, 84 gained, record amount of tp used!!!

4:54 p.m. Michael speaks up, and is going to “cast a shadow on this ‘dietary revival meeting’ ” – there is nothing evil with meat, having it in your diet; Kathy agrees but eating meat “does not sit right with her soul.”

Humourous Moment III, from Michael: “Animals lead very happy lives, and have one bad day.”

Michael continues…How much meat to eat is different for everyone – it’s overwhelming the American diet, the system is brutal – need to reform the system.

4:58 p.m. Final shout-out to Kashi by Oprah [I really dislike blatant product placement]…

Oprah’s Final Thoughts: Be more conscious about where your food comes from. Decide what’s right for you and your family.

To close, Oprah mentions the latest books by Michael (Food Rules) and Kathy (The Veganist) – [These will now be on top of the Amazon/Chapters Best-Selling Lists by tomorrow morning, mark my words!]

My Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed watching this episode! Although not a regular viewer, I am an Oprah fan, and appreciate that when she publicizes a topic, people pay attention. I liked the balanced viewpoints (experts Michael vs Kathy), the respectful tone. It’s always hard to condense a rather broad topic – in this case, veganism – into a < 60 minute TV show, but I thought the end result was interesting and informative.

So…the million dollar question: Would I try a 7 day Vegan Challenge? Yes! Would I try to convince B to join with me? Double yes!

Hmmm, now that the wheels are turning…this could be a great New Experience, couldn’t it?? Watch out, B! 

Would YOU try a 7 Day Vegan Diet??