Oprah’s Vegan Challenge

By DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

Tuesday afternoon I sat down with my pen and paper to watch Oprah’s Food 201- The Vegan Challenge. For those of you who remember my article “Rejected by Oprah,” you know that I have been an Oprah fan for years, but it had been a while since I had watched her show.

The last time I wrote about Oprah I was fired up about guest, Michael Pollan spreading mis-truths about modern ag production. What made me even more angry was that my comments to Oprah about these assumptions where not only deleted but that I was banned from making any additional comments to her Facebook page.

During Oprah’s Food 201 show, she encouraged her staff to sign up for a week-long vegan challenge. 378 employees signed up for the challenge. Some fell off the bandwagon, some decided to continue to be vegan (or “veganish”) but for all, it was an eye-opener.

There’s a lot that I actually liked about this show. I enjoyed watching as Cargill opened up their plant in Fort Morgan, Colorado to investigative reporter, Lisa Ling and showed that they are committed to treating the animals with dignity and respect. The cattle are harvested carefully and Ling said she was impressed that everything ran like clockwork. Ling says she will continue to enjoy eating meat but that she has a new appreciation for the animals.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again- many consumers are completely disconnected from the food chain. That’s why it’s important for farmers to continue to make the connection of how our food gets from the farm gate to the dinner plate. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and other forms of social media have all proven to be valuable resources for farmers and ranchers to get their message out in this day of age.

I laughed to myself a few weeks ago when reading a friend’s blog who left Iowa for a few months to be Ag Education student teacher in Houston, Texas.

She writes: “My first week here I went with a couple students and Mr. Arkadie to some surrounding elementary students to host livestock petting zoos for students. One group of 2nd graders came out of the building and the principal told the teacher they were to visit the lamb first. The teacher nodded at the principal and said “the lamb? Ok, which one’s that?”….I wish I had this story to tell three months ago when people were asking why on earth I thought I needed to go to Houston to teach agriculture education.”

The disconnect, however, isn’t happening just in the cities. It’s also taking place in our rural communities.

Let’s take this vegan challenge a step further. I enjoyed Mike Haley’s blog post about the challenge in which he stated, “In essence to fulfill Oprah’s challenge I began to make a list of things I would have to sacrifice for the week.  I began with the logical answers of steak, chicken and milk.  Then I started thinking about the definition of a vegan, I would have to give up all animal products, so I broadened my list to include gelatin, lanolin, rennet, whey, casein, beeswax, stearic acid, and broccoli. So I know what you are thinking, “why can’t a vegan eat broccoli?”  Well as I made out my list I noted stearic acid was a byproduct of animals, a byproduct that makes tires.  Tires are used by the farmer that grows the broccoli, by the truck driver that delivers it to the grocer, and would require that I walk to the store in…. I guess bare feet as even rubber shoes have animal products in them.   So in essence I could grow the broccoli in my garden using organic methods and fertilizing it with manure; oh wait that is an animal product as well.”

That, in its self, really puts the importance of animal agriculture into perspective don’t you think?

Also check out:
There Is No Such Thing As a Vegan
Oprah Goes from Godiva to Vegan


One response to this post.

  1. This is a great article and she talks about Shakeology. It is a great source for your vegetables and fruits.


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