I feel like I'm in the minority here, but I loved the vegan Oprah episode! Also, I think that both Michael Pollan and Kathy Freston were very good sources of information. Both furthered our cause.
First off, in case you missed this story completely, here's the gist:
Oprah decided to challenge the entire crew of Harpo to go vegan for one week. It was entirely optional, but a lot of people signed up!
The entire wealthy staff was handed big bags of freebies from Whole Foods and Kashi (can you tell I'm bitter about this?) to get them started.
In the episode, one of Oprah's correspondents visited a factory farm. One of the "good ones" that "treat the animals with dignity". Pfft.
They showed a LOT. I cried, as I always do when I watch animals walk to their deaths. They started with showing the cows in a cramped lot, being force-fed corn products to fatten them up.
Then they showed the cows being led to slaughter...
Next, though they were unable to film the actual killing (yes, let's call a spade a spade, shall we?) we watched the reporter's face as she watched the cows being stunned with rods being shoved violently through their skulls (from behind, to preserve the animal's dignity, of course).
I don't know why the cameras couldn't show that part even though the next part was just as graphic. Cows being drained of blood, skinned, cut in half. It was pretty graphic. Having just seen these beautiful animals as alive in the previous scene, I was very sad. :-(
Of course, this part at the factory farm wasn't that long, but it was the most shocking.
The rest of the episode was Michael Pollan talking about food from his angle. And Oprah asking the veganist (Kathy Freston) about if it was "okay" to eat eggs from chickens if you know for a fact that they are ridiculously happy to give the eggs away. Kathy said, "Yes, but most people don't have access to that." and Oprah said, "Most people don't. But I do!!!" ...kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but... sigh. (You know what else you could have access to, Oprah? A live-in vegan chef!!!)
Michael Pollan is NOT a vegan. Kathy Freston is. Oprah does not appear to be choosing to remain vegan, but some of her staff is. The benefits of veganism were discussed, as well as the benefits to keeping some animal protein in your diet.
Kathy Freston showed how easy it is to switch from meat and dairy to veganism. I love that she showed a bunch of fake meat and cheese as well as fresh options, like beans, grains, and produce. I think that anyone starting out needs those starter things like fake meat. I still cook with it occassionally, it's really good! No shame in the fake stuff. :-)
Michael Pollan's take on who should or should not eat meat is a bit different from mine. He thinks that if someone knows exactly where the meat comes from and can deal with the knowledge, they should eat meat. Me, I think that the only people who should eat animals are the ones who would be willing to kill the animals themselves (hunters, indigenous tribes, fishermen, etc.).
But overall, I think that this episode is a big step in the right direction, and I thank Oprah for doing this.
P.S. After watching this with me, Stacey has agreed to do "Meatless Mondays" at our house!!! YAY!!!