Oprah Winfrey and 378 of her staff members participated in a vegan diet for one week. They did not eat meat, dairy products, or drink milk. In other words, they consumed an animal-free diet. Some staff members really struggled going vegan, and a few cheated on the diet. Everyone learned something about themselves, their eating habits, and more about the beef industry and how cows are processed. Several staff members found the vegan challenge to be quite rewarding; they lost weight, and gained more energy.
On the show, Oprah interviewed Kathy Freston, author of “Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World.” Kathy believes there are moral and ethical issues involved with eating animals, and has evolved into veganism along her path towards enlightenment. Michael Pollan, author of a host of books, including “Food Rules” and “In Defense of Food” was also a guest on the show. He believes that there is nothing wrong with eating meat. He eats meat a few times a week, and supports the small farmers who treat their animals ethically and allow them to live what he calls a “happy life” until they go to the slaughter house. As devil’s advocate, that’s like saying prisoners on death row get to live a happy life until they go to the electric chair, but that’s another story.
The question is, could you handle a diet free of meat and dairy products? The typical meat and potatoes eating American believes it is impossible to get by without eating meat. “What else will we eat?” “How will we get protein?” Wake up people! Meat is not the only source of protein, and based on the health problems in America, it may not be the best source; more does not always mean better. Try eating some baked beans, black beans, black-eye peas, peanut butter, potatoes, spinach, collard greens, corn, tofu, tempeh, and a variety of nuts; and drink almond milk and soymilk. This will give you a sufficient amount of protein for your vegan diet should you choose to challenge yourself and your family. Now all you have to do is include plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, and whole grains in your diet and you are on your way to a healthier lifestyle. It may take a few weeks to get used to a vegan diet, but your body will reward you. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose except some unwanted weight. You can always go back to the standard American diet of beef and chicken. Who knows, you might surprise yourself and decide to stick with an animal-free diet.
Final questions from the ‘devil’s advocate’? Would you eat a cow or pig if you had to look it in the eyes and kill it yourself? If it is okay to kill cows, pigs, and chickens for food, then how come it is not okay to kill horses, dogs, and cats for food? Who decided which animals get to be food and which ones get to be the family pets? What constitutes cruelty to animals? Discuss these questions when you are eating steak with your family and friends.
“Every time we sit down to eat, we make a choice: Please choose vegetarianism. Do it for animals. Do it for the environment and do it for your health.” (Alec Baldwin, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals- Go Vegetarian, Go Vegan). Learn more by visiting PETA.org.