What A Meat-Eater Took Away From Oprah’s Vegan Episode

Michael Pollan, Kathy Freston and Oprah Winfrey

When I heard Tuesday’s episode of Oprah marketed as her “vegan experience”, I have to say as an occasional meat-eater I wasn’t drawn in; certainly it wouldn’t be as good as her camping trip with her “friend”, Gayle(remember that? That was a hoot!). But I was also interested to see what message she would be giving, especially with a panel of Veganist Kathy Freston, Food Activist Michael Pollon(who’s not a vegetarian), and a representative from a factory farm slaughterhouse(also not a vegetarian if you couldn’t draw that out).

Before I say what I agreed with and didn’t agree with of the show, I have to quantify my own diet by saying I’m something of a “flexitarian”. I eat vegan most of the time because that’s how I shop; dairy doesn’t agree with me and the only time I have eggs is in brownies(is this really a shocker?). While I don’t have plans to eat meat anytime soon, I’d never call myself a vegetarian since I’m sure I’ll eat meat at a holiday or in a restaurant soon enough. Also, I’m not fundamentally against it, which is probably the number one reason I’d say all of this comes from a “meat-eater”’s perspective.

Agree

 

“I don’t think you should be eating meat if you don’t want to see how it’s being produced”        –Michael Pollan

This, to me, was the best message from the show. No one ever sees how their food is made anymore; most people have been filtered out of the farming lifestyle over the past few hundred years. Having given a presentation on most of this at the 2010 Healthy Living Summit, I can’t say I was shocked at what was shown in the slaughterhouse.

Eat more veggies and you will be more in touch with your bodily functions than ever before(and you’ll like talking about it): The HARPO staff loved to talk about how much they pooped and farted; and who could blame them? One of the benefits of a plant-based diet is that your body works incredibly well at digesting food and you’ll never have to spend another morning struggling on the toilet. It’s a good life.

We should be more aware of what’s in our food: At one point, one of Oprah’s staffers took all the food with animal products out of her refrigerator. What was left was basically mustard and ketchup, and she had no idea that’s how she was eating. Another staffer admittedly ate “horrible” before going vegan, and lost 11 pounds just by eating nutritious food. If you actually know what’s in your food, vegan or not, you’re more likely to make a healthier and informed decision.

We should support our farmers(and hint: you don’t do this by buying from large industries): This is something that Michael Pollan said which sort of got swept under the rug immediately after, but it’s a good point. Farming is a career, and a dying one at that. If you don’t support your local farmer(for meat or for vegetables) then they’re at risk of going out of business, and there are many many reasons why our food production shouldn’t be in the hands of a few big companies. 

Disagree

 

The idea that veganism exists at Whole Foods only: Whenever they went shopping or showed groceries in this episode, it was from Whole Foods. You don’t have to shop at Whole Foods to get vegan groceries; most grocery stores have tons of vegan options to choose from. And the farmers’ market is an excellent place to get vegetables in season. Since Whole Foods has the nickname “Whole Paycheck”, I’m afraid this could give the wrong impression that vegan = costly.

You won’t shed pounds like you’re on The Biggest Loser simply because you don’t eat animal products: Oprah staffers lost a combined total of 444 pounds in a week on a vegan diet. Woh! Who knew cutting out animal products can help you lose weight? Well, I don’t agree that it can, at least not that alone. What’s more likely is that these people weren’t eating healthy food to begin with(one of them was a self-proclaimed “fast food addict”). I think it’s entirely possible to live healthy on a diet including meat.

“Fake food” is the answer: There was a lot of product placement in this. It was like Friends, American Idol, and The Truman Show combined. And most of it wasn’t from the United States Sweet Potato Board or Broccoli Farmers Of America but rather Kashi, Earth Balance, Daiya, and every sort of fake meat imaginable. The problem this creates is twofold: there’s no appeal in going vegan if all the food you’re going to eat is compared to non-vegan alternatives; and a lot of these are overly-processed, which in turn is probably more harmful to your body than meat itself if you base your diet around them.

Conclusion

 

January 16th 087

I could wrap up this entire post into one 7-worded statement:

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

What? That’s taken? Shoot. Well then I’ve got nothing original. Oh wait, yes I do:

Love the ingredients, not the food

That’s the tagline I gave this blog when I made it 3 months ago. It’s on all my business cards, so you know it’s legit. It means know what you’re eating, preferably by cooking your own real food with real ingredients. And it’s only 6 words, so technically I’m more succinct and better than Pollan. Where’s my book deal?

Did you watch the show? What were your opinions on it or any of this?

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75 Responses to What A Meat-Eater Took Away From Oprah’s Vegan Episode
  1. Stacy @ Every Little Thing
    February 2, 2011 | 10:07 am

    I pretty much agree with everything you wrote, and I think it’s the common opinion among “food bloggers” (though I can’t speak for everyone, obv).

    As a meat-eater, the way I understand veganism is eating closer to the Earth. I try to do this in all my food as well. So I was amazed that there was hardly any focus on eating all natural foods! Not even ONE recipe! Just product placements for fake meat (which I can’t stand; if I went Vegan, I would NOT be eating fake meat full of chemicals!) and Kashi bars.

    That said, Oprah is powerful and the fact that she did this segment on her show means that MILLIONS of people will now google “Vegan” and at least think about it a little more, which is never a bad thing.

    Lastly, how was no one absolutely shocked and appalled that the woman addicted to fast food only pooped once a week?! There were some quiet mumblings but I would have gasped in horror.

    I’m gonna go eat some beans now.

    • Wannabe Chef
      February 2, 2011 | 11:30 am

      I totally missed that last line until somebody tweeted it. My jaw would have dropped. I worry if I don’t go once a day.

    • Christin@purplebirdblog
      February 2, 2011 | 2:37 pm

      My sister is like that… will go 4-5 days without having a bowel movement. Insanity in my eyes.

  2. Erin @ Big Girl Feats
    February 2, 2011 | 10:19 am

    I agree with everything you wrote and Stacy commented about. I couldnt believe that when they went shopping at Whole Foods, there was not one single vegetable or fruit in the cart! It was all processed. That’s not very healthy no matter whether you’re vegan

  3. Sarah @ goingongoals
    February 2, 2011 | 10:19 am

    I have not seen the show yet, but really appreciated this post. I am also curious. I read Skinny Bitch and have slowly begun to cut out meat.

    I also agree that the biggest problem is that people have no idea what they are eating. I think it would be eye opening if more people cleaned out their fridge!!

  4. jenn @ jennliveswell
    February 2, 2011 | 10:21 am

    I am slowly working toward being a vegetarian with an ultimate end goal of becoming a dietary vegan in the next 10-12 months. I was so hopeful for this episode and felt excited for everyone to learn the same things I’ve learned about veganism through extensive research (seriously- I’ve read almost every book or research article on it at this point). Unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case. The show was kind of “fluffy” and I’m not sure that people really learned much at all.

    I also felt like the entire show was so spotty – jumping between staff interviews and with the guests and the show didn’t have a clear flow. I feel like they lacked a lot of bulk that would have helped people become really informed. Information about why a vegan diet is so healthy and can reverse or prevent diseases and not that it’s just expensive or you need to shop at Whole Foods. I also wish they’d highlighted a lot of the super athletes or amazing people who thrive on this diet. I do like that Kathy managed to get in a few lines about vegans getting plenty of protein from plant-based foods since this is such a common misconception.

    I was also disappointed that she focused so much on the fake meats, cheese and mayo. She also called earth balance butter “so healthy for you” which is SO UNTRUE. 100% of the calories in Earth Balance come from fat and it’s mostly all oil. Is it a suitable vegan substitute for regular butter? Absolutely. But is Earth Balance “so healthy for you”? Absolutely not. No more healthy than gnawing on a stick of overly processed butter.

    I wish more “real” vegans had been interviewed as well. Oprah really showed the disconnect between her and the real people when she talked about the fact that she has expensive organic produce available to her, but understands that a lot of people can’t afford this. I found that disheartening rather than inspiring.

    Overall – if nothing else – it brought more awareness to the cause and I enjoyed that portion of it. I was also pleased to hear so many people saying it gave them energy and made them feel better.

    • Wannabe Chef
      February 2, 2011 | 11:33 am

      I agree with most of these as problems, but I think overall it did more good than harm as it brought the topic into the home in a way that a blog post never can. I mean, so many people watch Oprah no matter what walk of life they have, and even if they weren’t interested in veganism or healthy eating to begin with this might spark them to google the term and start reading bloggers who know how to live a well-balance plant-based diet.

      • jenn @ jennliveswell
        February 2, 2011 | 11:49 am

        That’s a really good point! It definitely has people talking & you’re completely right…no blogger has even 1/10000000th of the influence that Oprah has. 🙂

  5. Erin
    February 2, 2011 | 10:23 am

    oops! I meant to say vegan or you eat meat. I was upset about that but I DO think its great that millions of Americans who watch Oprah’s show might consider their food and lifestyle a little more after that episode.

  6. Amalfi Girl (EatRunHaveFun!)
    February 2, 2011 | 10:23 am

    Great post! I’m interested in the “eating clean” movement, which is more Michael Pollan and “love the ingredients” as you said than it is “vegan.” I would view a beautiful piece of salmon on a bed of grilled spinach covered with lemon juice and capers to be just as clean as if the salmon were omitted. I’m glad the concepts are getting more and more attention, but I do think that it wouldn’t have the allure to most people if they didn’t do the weight loss angle. And that probably annoys the h*ll out of real vegans, especially female vegans who are sometimes subjected to people’s preconceived (and incorrect) notion that veganism is another word for eating disorder.

    In the end, I think people will either be interested in whole foods that they can recognize, or not, in which case they may be willing to eat any old thing with polysyllobic chemical ingredients they’ve never heard of. And I don’t have a problem with that, either. I think it is up to the person and where they are in their own food journey.

  7. Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg
    February 2, 2011 | 10:29 am

    Yeah, I didn’t watch it, but I’ve heard complaints around the blog world about all of the fake meat product endorsement. While I understand their inclination to feature a lot of that “transition” food, I wish they would have actually featured REAL food as well– beans, lentils, etc.– to show an actual whole foods-based diet (though not necessarily from Whole Foods!!).

  8. Ashley @ Will Run for Food
    February 2, 2011 | 10:36 am

    Great post! I agree on all the points you made and really wish they had done a better job at showing real, natural food rather than meat substitutes. Pasta is one of the easiest dishes to veganize, why do you need a “meat” sauce?? I think a lot of people associate veganism with products like faux meats and cheeses already and this didn’t exactly help…

  9. Corey @ the runner's cookie
    February 2, 2011 | 10:37 am

    I didn’t watch the show but have been enjoying reading people’s thoughts. Although there were obviously some aspects of the show that many people didn’t like, to me it seems like this was at least a start. Most Americans probably do not consider where their food comes from and have meat with lunch and dinner everyday. At least Oprah wasn’t afraid to start the conversation. If that episode led even half the viewers to think more about their diet and consider making one vegetarian meal, I see that as a success. It’s going to be baby steps.

  10. melissa @ the delicate place
    February 2, 2011 | 10:51 am

    i didn’t watch the show but i wanted to! i was busy moving some things into my new townhome! i eat meat as well and like a lot of the things pollan endorses. i think a big problem in the vegan community is too many carbs (pasta/bread etc) and not enough greenery. too many fake meats which is ironic to me and dependence on processed to go options because they won’t experiment in the kitchen. i’m not saying all vegans are this way…in fact i follow many blogs and steal their recipes for the nutrition/taste factors quite often. however, the same could be said about us meat eating folk (those who hit up the burger drivethrough, abuse clif bars like candy and find their face in a tub of ben and jerrys. i’m seeking health in a combination of both a vegan and carnivore lifestyle. i do avoid dairy and gluten but that’s strictly because they do not agree with me! it’s taken me to my late 20s to figure it out but hey, better late than never. i now have the bulk of my life to eat, enjoy and properly digest my food experimentation!

  11. Lauren at KeepItSweet
    February 2, 2011 | 10:51 am

    I wish I had seen the show since everyone is talking about it, but I enjoyed reading your recap and perspective. Given that I just did a 7-day vegan challenge, I am not all that surprised at what people learned from theirs. Just to note, I did not lose weight from my vegan week, but I think that is because my non-vegan diet is already healthy.

  12. Danielle
    February 2, 2011 | 11:02 am

    I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said here. I rarely eat meat, but still do here and there. After watching the episode myself, I found plenty of things I agreed with, but also some I disagreed with. I suppose it really all depends on your own personal reasons for eating what you do eat, and what you don’t.

    I definitely think that those new to trying to eat healthy (with or without meat) diet, should know that you can find healthy food everywhere, not just at Whole Foods! I love Whole Foods, but shopping there is a treat, not a regular occurance. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be super expensive, if you know how to do it right.

    And while I appreciated the information on meat replacements, I not too long ago learned just how great a homemade bean and grain burger can be. Sure every once inawhile I’ll crave a Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burger out of sheer convenience, but the homemade ones are so much better!

    Thanks for such an awesome post – it’s got me (and I’m sure a lot of others) really thinking, which I also think was part of the point to Oprah’s show. Just that little spark to get people thinking about what they eat, for so many who probably don’t even let it cross their mind, is a step in the right direction.

  13. Laura
    February 2, 2011 | 11:06 am

    A-Greed! You took the words out of my omnivore mouth.

  14. Sara (Miles and Manhattan)
    February 2, 2011 | 11:07 am

    Very much agree with you. My issue is eating out at restaurants. MOST do NOT have humanely raised meat. I still eat it. But, I do not eat meat that is not grassfed/humane/organic etc. in my own home. Sometimes you just have to do what works for you.
    Sara

  15. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday
    February 2, 2011 | 11:08 am

    Best recap ever. I completely agree with you.

  16. Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin
    February 2, 2011 | 11:12 am

    I didn’t watch the show but have heard so much about it and I’m bummed I missed it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

  17. Sarah
    February 2, 2011 | 11:13 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Evan. I had many of the same reactions that you did and agree that it’s crucial to know where your food (and ingredients) come from!

  18. Leah
    February 2, 2011 | 11:15 am

    I lurve Michael Pollen. I think everyone should read his books.

    • Wannabe Chef
      February 2, 2011 | 11:37 am

      I read In Defense Of Food 2 Summers ago and really enjoyed it; it probably sparked how I eat now. I’d be interested in reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I looked at his new one, Food Rules, at Target but it seemed to me to be just like In Defense Of Food only more succinct, so I didn’t bother buying it.

  19. Kristina at spabettie
    February 2, 2011 | 11:18 am

    Great review, Evan.

    I completely agree. I am not really surprised with the faux food focus. It is similar to a vegan / vegetarian at a restaurant – they are offered salad… the common perception is that vegans eat soy and salad! 🙂 Oprah looking at the camera and saying “I love apples” wouldn’t bring the ad revenue than her saying “I love Kashi”.

    As a media powerhouse, though, I am happy she did this – it’s a start. If it makes someone look into the vegan diet, that’s positive.

  20. Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun
    February 2, 2011 | 11:23 am

    Have to type fast but i love all your points. Ditto to each one.

  21. Kelly
    February 2, 2011 | 11:24 am

    I think you did a great job analyzing the show for it’s pros and cons. I mostly agree with everything you have said. I especially agree that people found themselves losing weight after being vegan for a week because they had to incorporate more healthy foods into their diet. I know we have been discussing this on twitter but I don’t think that faux meat products are inherently bad. Yes, completely basing your diet on processed meat and dairy replacements would be bad. But I think faux meat products are a great way for American’s to still enjoy their hot dog or burger and reduce their meat intake. It’s all about moderation in everything.

    • Wannabe Chef
      February 2, 2011 | 11:41 am

      I wouldn’t say that faux meat is inherintly bad either. There are certainly some companies that use the right ingredients and spices to keep it healthy and less-processed. But I think if you’re marketing them for vegan meals and them alone as the episode die, you’re ignoring the fact that beans, tofu, and tempeh are less-processed main meals that are still easily accessible in the home.

  22. Stephanie
    February 2, 2011 | 11:26 am

    I missed the show but think your points are spot.on. 🙂

  23. Steph
    February 2, 2011 | 11:45 am

    This post was dead on – great job! Now I must track down that episode…Do you ever catch the Daily Show? Lewis Black had a hilarious piece on Taco Bell Beef last night.

  24. Brittney
    February 2, 2011 | 12:01 pm

    I think the intention was to wake up the average American with no concept of NOT eating meat. While I agree that the product placement was a little overboard, I think they were trying to show that there are similar alternatives to the “favorite” foods so many Americans commonly eat. Love burgers? Here’s a vegan alternative… -that kind of thing. It’s somewhere for someone with no clue to start. I absolutely agree that a normal Vegan diet should include tons of veggies, but this is a baby step for a person who eats lots of meat and maybe isn’t ready for the total overhaul, which is probably who most of Oprah’s audience is.

  25. Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete
    February 2, 2011 | 12:05 pm

    So agree with you. “Sarah for Real” and I were tweeting back and forth (some DM) during the show yesterday exactly about all of what you said.

    I feel like Pollan was sort of brushed aside some of the time as well. I love him, so I was just a tad offended. Reading In the Defense of Food and The Omnivores Dilemma changed my life.

    I didn’t like how they also linked weight loss with veganism. I know some really healthy vegans, and I know some really unhealthy vegans.

    I consider myself a “flexitarian” like yourself, and I’m a pretty healthy individual.

  26. amy@healtyhungryhappy.com
    February 2, 2011 | 12:15 pm

    i totally agree with the michael pollan quote you have in your post. if you don’t want to see how meat’s produced, don’t eat it. i actually went hunting for the first time in my life a few weeks ago and i decided to try it because, i do eat meat. i felt like i should be able to do this if im ok with eating meat at the store. i actually did it (wasn’t easy…there was a lot of crying and shaking). but it was very eye opening for me. makes me think about all the animals that are easily forgotten when buying meat at the stores, restaurants, etc. pretty interesting stuff.

  27. Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn
    February 2, 2011 | 12:21 pm

    Unforch, I was napping and totally missed the episode. But, I loved hearing your perspective on the episode as a meat-eater! I agree that it should not be all about shopping at Whole Foods; I don’t even have one nearby, and I take advantage of the produce and natural foods section at Wegmans and at Co-ops, our natural foods stores, and the public (farmer’s) market. In fact, people would save a ton of money just purchasing most of their groceries at a public market, or from the produce section! Indeed, I am very happy that Oprah took the initiative to do this, which teaches people to read the labels of their food and understand where it comes from in the first place. Otherwise, we’d all be putting unpronounceable chemicals in our body at every meal! Great review:)

  28. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair
    February 2, 2011 | 12:30 pm

    I didn’t see the episode but I think this is a great recap!

    I think the healthy living blog world knows A LOT more about this kind of stuff than most people so I bet Oprah’s episode was really educating to the majority of North America. I know some people can’t even grasp the CONCEPT of being vegan/vegetarian and that’s just because they do not understand or have the right education on how to fuel themselves that way.

  29. Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    February 2, 2011 | 12:31 pm

    Great post! I didn’t watch the episode, but agree with pretty much everything that you wrote. I’m not a vegan but my diet does tend to gravitate that way. I’ll whip myself something up and only realize after that there was no animal product in it. In general, though, I think that balance is key. And if not eating meat is purely a health driven thing, a pork chop here or there really won’t hurt you. It seems a bit far-fetched that Oprah’s staff lost over 400 pounds over a one week period. Guess it depends on how large the staff was. But you’re right in that it probably had to do with them ditching their junk food and eating healthier foods, not the vegan diet.

    Anyhoo, again-great post!

  30. Jo @ Jo In the Kitchen
    February 2, 2011 | 1:16 pm

    Well put! I didn’t get to watch the episode, but the twitter stream was pretty awesome. Great points, I agree whole heartedly!

  31. liane
    February 2, 2011 | 1:55 pm

    I completely agree with all the points you mentioned above. I understand why there was so much product placement but it kind of drove me a little nutty though that they didn’t even bother to show actual vegetables while in the grocery store, or in the meals they prepared for the family.

  32. Brittany
    February 2, 2011 | 2:17 pm

    I didn’t see the show, but I think you’re post was very well-written and you made some great points. The whole “lets-be-vegans-and-eat-mostly-processed-foods-while-acting-like-we-eat-healthy-and-are-more-highly-evolved-than-all-our-other-friends” trend is really, really annoying. I’m all for how you characterized yourself, being mindful of where food comes from, eat real food, and do it all in moderation.

  33. Holly
    February 2, 2011 | 2:40 pm

    interesting. i’ve heard from other people who recapped Oprah’s show, and while i completely think one can eat a vegan diet and be oh so healthy, i saw so many people being like, “everyone should be on a vegan diet,” “the world should be meat-free,” and i just hate when people peg one this to work for everyone. that being said, i really appreciated this post, and i think everything you said is spot on. amen for giving a balanced portrayal, and i’m with you – i’d rather see oprah and gayle camping 🙂

    hearts,
    holly

    p.s. how is marathon training going?

    • Wannabe Chef
      February 2, 2011 | 3:32 pm

      Well, I haven’t quit yet so there’s that 🙂

  34. Suzanne @ continuing my education
    February 2, 2011 | 3:25 pm

    Thanks so much for the recap! I didn’t get to watch it myself but I have read several other reviews and complaints. I definitely agree that you should know how everything you eat is produced. It definitely makes you question what you eat!

  35. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    February 2, 2011 | 4:16 pm

    “The idea that veganism exists at Whole Foods only”–
    Amen. I hate it when ppl write to me thinking that i shop/feed my family at WFs. NO!!! I have written a zillion times if that was my option, i’d be broke! There are a million ways to eat a plant based diet and do it much more economically than at WFs and WFs doenst hold the “copyright” on a plant based diet…it’s been around for a few more thousand years than WFs has!

    I didnt see the show but have just heard about it.

    Was interested/surprised to see you say you arent doing meat at all anymore, other than in restaurants. But what about all the dorm room burgers? Will i never get to read about those again? I miss those posts!

    🙂

    • Wannabe Chef
      February 2, 2011 | 5:05 pm

      Meat’s good, but I could never keep it in my refrigerator longer than 2 days before it’d spoil. The great thing about tofu/tempeh is I can buy a ton over the weekend and eat it through the week.

  36. Ginette
    February 2, 2011 | 4:24 pm

    I was disappointed with the show. It did not seriously address what Veganism is about. I have only become Vegan last year n January. I can only say after a lifelong struggle with health problems I am finally freed of them. I was on the verge of having to take cholesterol medication, but that was not the reason I became a Vegan. I saw some images and undercover video of brutality committed in the name of meat, dairy and eggs. After lots of research basically to debunk it all, (After all I ate the basic diet most people eat all my live and had no intention of changing it) I only found out it’s actually worse then I thought. My conscience simply could not rest. I became Vegan after two years of being a vegetarian. The final straw was when I learned and saw that in the egg industry the male baby chicks serve no purpose. So they are sorted out and thrown alive in top meat grinder. Some places stuff them in to trash bags and they suffocate. I’ve seen images of baby chicks trying to get out of the bags. I can only say that most good hearted people that I know, if they knew what I know and if they seen what I saw they would also be Vegan. I can honestly say that I would share this good Vegan news with every friend and family member, for no other reason then… Not eating animal products is a true blessing. I really wish I had learned this truth sooner. But it is better late then never. I am 50+ years old, at one point I felt my life was winding down with the cholestorol problems I had, the swollen feet, the aching joints that kept me from exercising, but now one year after going Vegan, I have zero joint pain, my cholesterol went from 270 to 114, my skin is radiant, my energy is back to they way I was when I was 30. All this is the simple truth. I can move again all day long with no loss of energy and no pain in my joints. My lifelong constipation which I though I was stuck with is GONE. I have bowl movement every day and it feels great. I have total rid myself of hemorrhoids too, which plagued me a lot. In my heart I feel great joy that my eating is that of non violence toward animals and I can now say “I Love Animals” without feeling a but hypocritical.

    Today offering someone a steak or fried eggs would be no different then offering them a cigarette. Meat, Dairy and eggs makes people sick sooner or later and it is so cruel to the animals and bad for the environment. It is so sad that people can not see that. I am sad to see obese people, especially children with diabetics and even cancer now and most of the population my age, with high blood pressure and heart disease when I know this need not be, if we could only get off the meat and dairy and egg train. It is all so sad.

    • Wannabe Chef
      February 2, 2011 | 5:24 pm

      Firstly, I’m glad to hear that your health has improved significantly and congratulations on that.

      I’ve seen the video you’re referring to and I do agree that the system is deplorable in its practices. In my ideal, meat, dairy, and eggs would be purchased from small, singular farms. That’s at least what I try to do when I can.

      I do disagree that meat in proper portions can’t be part of a healthy diet. A serving of meat or eggs in my mind is more nutritious than a processed snack without animal ingredients.

      • Ginette
        February 2, 2011 | 6:44 pm

        I don’t think people should replace meat with processed foods. I just ate a bowl of Chickpeas as a snack, seasoned with herbs and spices and ate enough plant protein for a whole day and fiber too and little oil. There is a very insighful series six about 10 minutes parts, shedding some light on what is the number one killer in America and why. This is just a lecture and not any images of suffering animals. Totally save to view. This is basicclly from a medical standpoint done by a physician. People are dying and all the talk over decades about food, and all the diets have not changed anything. More people are getting ill and more people are getting obese and are dying sooner or live miserable lives taking more and more pills. Children are getting sicker and we must pay attention. Sharing the idea of a plant based diet can’t hurt anyone.
        I hope you view this and maybe share it. It would be great. Thank You Kindly!
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyYdbOuIxe8

        • jenn @ jennliveswell
          February 2, 2011 | 6:58 pm

          I think nutrition is a personal choice for everyone. While I do agree that a vegan diet is what’s best for me – it may not be for everyone and it’s critical to let people make their own choices about their health.

          Speaking of videos – there is a documentary coming out on 3/11 called Forks Over Knives. It’s produced in conjunction with a lot of the people involved in Eat to Live and The China Study and discusses the health benefits of a plant-based diet. I think it should be very interesting & can’t wait to see it!

  37. Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons
    February 2, 2011 | 4:30 pm

    Hello twin,
    well obviously you’re my twin b/c you are totally in my head with this! I agree with a lot of what you are saying. I haven’t had a chance to watch the show online yet but reading your run down was very interesting. Thanks Evan! =)

    xoxo
    jenn

  38. Adam
    February 2, 2011 | 5:39 pm

    In total agreement with you about most everything you have illustrated in this post. I am guessing that Tofurky and Daiya made out pretty well after the show aired yesterday. No doubt their quarterly earnings will sky rocket, and people will be disappointed that they are not seeing “results”. To me, veganism is not about processed junk rather a term that encompasses both health and vegetarianism. I HATE putting a label to anything and I definitely don’t have any issue with those who chose to include animal products in their diet, because in the long run, over-processed, high-sodium junk will lead to bigger health problems down the road as well. Your tag line sums everything up perfectly, and you should have your own book deal, as long as you remember that I am pretty good at tasting/writing reviews 😉

  39. Kaitlin With Honey
    February 2, 2011 | 6:41 pm

    Evan, I didn’t see the episode, but I LOVED this post. You’re so thoughtful and clearly know what you’re talking about.

  40. Hannah
    February 2, 2011 | 7:38 pm

    I don’t watch Oprah so I don’t know if this has been shown in Australia, but as someone who seems to have pretty much the same approach to eating as you do (not technically veg*n, but generally eat that way), I really like your response here. Couldn’t help nodding at your weight loss comment – in fact, I’m trying to use raw vegan desserts at the moment to gain weight! 😀

  41. Ellen
    February 2, 2011 | 7:47 pm

    i thought the episode was valuable because it draws attention to an incredibly important issue, however, i thought kathy freston was totally overbearing and did her best to obscure michael pollan’s message. i just have to say it– newsflash– a vegan diet is NOT healthiest for everyone. i have never been so unhealthy in my life as when i was vegan, or even vegetarian. my body thrives on a free range eggs, grass fed meat, and even (gasp) organic whole fat dairy. i really hate the view point of so much of the healthy living blogosphere that acts like vegan is the holy grail and all others are just doing their best to be as close to vegan as they can stand. HEAB has to be one of my favorite bloggers for that very reason. anyway, that was my main beef with the show. i totally respect vegans, and admire them for their conscious eating, but it’s treated like some sort of religion. one that doesn’t work for all!

    • Wannabe Chef
      February 2, 2011 | 7:51 pm

      I thought it was really funny when Michael Pollan started to say something about how a little meat in your diet can be good for you and then Kathy butt in and said “And I agree with you…” and then went on to say something completely against what he was saying.

  42. Claire @ Un Bello Aperitivo
    February 2, 2011 | 8:11 pm

    I’ve always heard the “support your local farmer” thing, but I never really thought about how important it was until now. If we don’t support and buy from honest people who know what they’re growing, we run the risk of having big corporations grow our food, which is the slippery slope into GMOs and a sole focus on profits.

    And with the number of farmers on the decline, it’s already a precarious situation.

    I also disagree with the amount of processed vegan foods…I don’t think that someone should be eating meat substitutes for health reasons because often, they’re just not healthy. The more straight up plants you can eat, the better.

    Great post.

  43. Ela
    February 2, 2011 | 9:29 pm

    Great that you’ve highlighted this. And I totally agree with your ‘disagree’s: I know some former raw-vegans who actually went to animal products (consciously sourced, high integrity ones) after consistently gaining weight as raw vegans! So your focus is right, that it’s the quality and source of the ingredients that’s more important for health than the total ban on animal foods. Although I don’t choose to eat them myself, I am surrounded by folks who thrive on them, and up here in AK, we get most of them wild…

  44. Stephanie @ The Brunette Foodie
    February 2, 2011 | 9:46 pm

    I didn’t see the episode {we don’t own a tv…truly}, but I love your post.

    We’re obviously meat eaters, but I was a vegetarian for almost 15 years. Even now we don’t eat a TON of meat.

    I hate Whole Foods. There I said it. I wish that they weren’t the icon of the organic movement, because the word “organic” doesn’t immediately make something better for you. Does that make sense?

    Anyway, my point is that what you said is right. Our Kroger has a HUGE organic section that is better than anything I’ve ever seen in a non-Whole Foods. I wish people understood how accessible good for you food is. {says the girl who is eating brownies…}

    • Wannabe Chef
      February 2, 2011 | 9:51 pm

      I agree that organic is another one of those “health halo” words that get thrown around. You can make organic candy bars(in fact they do and I’ve eaten them and they’re quite good but not at all healthy). I should have disclosed that I do do 95% of my shopping at Whole Foods, but that’s because there are 2 each about 1 mile from my house and the other nearest grocery store is kind of sketchy…

  45. Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}
    February 2, 2011 | 10:13 pm

    I posted about this today as well and agree with your thoughts. I was especially upset with all the fake food endorsements. I still appreciate that the episode as a whole may have gotten some people to think twice where their food is coming from.

  46. Lee
    February 2, 2011 | 10:18 pm

    I thought that it was a good introduction to veganism for people that had no clue. However, I agree with you about the fake food. For one, I think a lot of that stuff doesn’t taste good and secondly, it’s expensive. Both turn offs for people.

    Also, how did that woman not poop for 8 days?!

  47. Emily
    February 2, 2011 | 10:38 pm

    Thank you for posting this… I didn’t really watch the show and only heard bits and pieces about it on twitter from other bloggers. While I think its great that the Oprah show raised awareness about the food industry and veganism, I totally agree with you that encouraging fake food is not the answer. Great recap!

  48. Kimba's Kitchen
    February 2, 2011 | 11:25 pm

    What a brilliant post. Thank you for taking the time to write all this info. Very valuable!!

    I just live on some food expert’s motto “Eat Less, Move More” easiest thing to remember!

  49. Heather
    February 3, 2011 | 12:12 am

    Great recap. Like you I can’t really call myself a vegetarian, but I don’t eat meat often and the source of my food is very important. I kept wondering if they were going to do a cost comparison for some people for the week. You know those WF trips were ‘spensive and that scares people into thinking this way of eating is not for them. Too bad about that one.

  50. Kate (What Kate is Cooking)
    February 3, 2011 | 12:58 am

    I think I’m living proof that veganism will NOT necessarily lead to weight loss. Sure, if you eat the right things- but you don’t need to be vegan to eat healthy. I fell into the trap of buying anything because it was vegan and ended up gaining a significant amount of weight. Vegan food can be junk food sometimes!

  51. Allison @ Happy Tales
    February 3, 2011 | 1:21 am

    Your blog is incredible. I can’t believe it’s only 3 months old! Your tagline = superb. If I were ruler of the universe? Well, you would’ve had a book-deal *yesterday*.

    Anyway, I agree with every single point you made. Both the agrees, and the disagress.

  52. Melissa @ TryingToHeal
    February 3, 2011 | 1:45 am

    I didn’t watch the show about this episode but i agree with everything you said evan!

  53. Gena
    February 3, 2011 | 8:23 am

    Love this post.

    You know, I had a sort of mixed reaction to the Oprah thing — call it the proprietary feeling we all have when something we’ve been devoted to starts getting mainstream. I love veganism, but I also don’t want it to be misunderstood, and I wonder if this kind of big media can hand down some false ideas (like the Whole Foods bag, or the idea that it’s a weight loss miracle).

    G

    • Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen)
      February 3, 2011 | 8:47 am

      Gena-Oprah now owes it to society to present a healthy vegan lifestyle on the show–Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Esselstyn and others. Do you think you can get her producers to listen to a group of healthy vegans?

  54. Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen)
    February 3, 2011 | 8:45 am

    I love you Evan! Great, great perspectives on “The Oprah Incident.” I linked you in my blog post today!

  55. Michelle
    February 4, 2011 | 2:42 pm

    I think your article and review of the show is extremely well written, and I agree with every word of it. I must say though, that I was extremely disappointed with the show, because it seemed as though Michael Pollen, who I would consider the compromiser of the three guests, barely got a word in edgewise. He would have done a great job of bringing together both the meat lovers and vegans, into a healthy compromise of sourcing meat and eggs from a local farmer, or reputable producer. The issue at hand is really not whether or not to go vegan, rather it really is, do you want your food to be sourced from a terrible and unhealthy environment, or would you rather support a local farmer, and know that animal you are eating had a wonderful and happy life.

  56. Heather
    February 5, 2011 | 11:19 am

    I loved reading your take on this. I didn’t see the show, but I’ve been hearing a lot about it, especially about the pushing of “fake meat” products, I agree with you 100%. I am a meat eater on occasion but I understand that a vegan/vegetarian diet is not all about food substitutes. Like you said, so much of that stuff is just as processed as the “junk” that people eat in a non vegan diet! I eat tempeh/tofu here and there, but I eat it because I like the taste of it, not because I’m looking for a replacement for meat!

    Love your tagline! Simple, but SOOO true!!

  57. Stephanie
    February 7, 2011 | 3:15 am

    Great review of the show Evan. I wholeheartedly agree with all of your observations – especially with regards to fake meat/dairy products. I attempted a Vegan diet about 10 years ago – without doing my nutritional homework. As a result of my ignorance, I nearly destroyed my health. For example, I substituted Seitan, Soy milk, and soy cheese for many meals (I also ate lots of whole wheat bread and grains). About a year into this diet, I became extremely ill. In 2003, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. I also discovered that I had osteopenia, B12 deficiency, anemia, and low levels of vitamin D. Today, I eat a mostly plant based diet – but I finally know how to do it properly with whole foods. I’m concerned that people will make the same mistakes that I did. It’s so important for people to do their homework when embarking on any new diet. There is so much to take into consideration…