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“We Love Vegans Too”

It’s not often that I get the chance to watch Oprah. But as “luck” would have it, yet another snow storm was raging through New England today. And while that meant slippery roads and more shoveling, it also meant that for once,  I was home early enough to catch her show this afternoon. I can honestly say that I was so happy I did. Today’s episode was all about Oprah’s Vegan Challenge. In case you missed it, the basic premise was that Oprah challenged all her employees at Harpo to go vegan for an entire week. In addition to highlighting some of their experiences, the episode also talked about the meat industry, our food system, and a basic introduction to veganism. (You can watch select clips from the show on Oprah’s site.)

To avoid being redundant, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the show itself. But I did want to share some overall thoughts about it from the perspective of an {almost} life-long vegetarian. And I’m interested in hearing your thoughts as well.

Before I go into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, here are a few interesting facts:

  • We eat about 10 billion animals a year; 33 million of those are cows
  • Heifers at the Timmerman Feeding Corp (a feed lot in CO where cows live to get fattened up before slaughter) stay there about 200 days
  • The cattle gain 3+ pounds per day, and will weigh about 1200 lbs before being sent to slaughter
  • Cargill is the biggest meat producer in the world — they bring in 4,500 cows per day

The Good

  • I really liked that Oprah had both Michael Pollan (author of books like In Defense of Food, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Food Rules) and the General Manager of Cargill on the show. It made for some respectful, educational dialogue.
  • The show was informational without being preachy. Along with Kathy Freston, author of The Veganist, Oprah provided some general information on veganism, and shared stories from those who are sticking with it even after the challenge has ended (along with those who aren’t). Maybe it was all in the interest of being politically correct (or avoiding a lawsuit!) but no one was really pushing the vegan lifestyle, or talking poorly about the meat industry.
  • The producers focused on many of the health benefits you can achieve from eating less animal products. Even including the fact that it made many people more, shall we say, “regular.” ….though honestly, I’m not sure what these people were eating to make them so stopped up before!!
  • They touched on the fact that being vegan doesn’t necessarily mean being healthy. It’s very possible to be a “junk food vegan” (or vegetarian). There are a lot of animal-free processed foods that still aren’t good for you. If you’re not really careful about eating a balanced diet, you could easily gain weight after giving up animal products.
  • Overall, there was a big emphasis on just being aware of where your food comes from. Lisa Ling went into a slaughterhouse and yet still eats meat. But now at least she has an appreciation of how that meat gets to her table. I think that’s a very important lesson for all of us.

The Bad

  • Besides the fact that the entire episode seemed to be sponsored by Kashi, there also seemed to be a huge push for meat substitutes. Now don’t get me wrong, I really like fake meats. Believe me — I used to live off of those things! But as with any highly processed foods, eating too much of them is not good for you. Plus, they are expensive! Those Gardein products that were highlighted on the show cost around $5 a package — and they only serve one or two people. Instead of focusing on how you could replace a real meat with a fake one, I wish the show had talked more about how you can make delicious, protein-rich meals with just vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, etc.
  • Similarly, there wasn’t a big focus on eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Yes, I realized how important it is to show consumers that you can find a substitute for any animal-based product you want. I appreciate the educational aspect of that. But the reality is that the majority of people in the US do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. And one of the great parts about giving up meat is that it encourages you to find new, creative ways to incorporate produce into your everyday meals!
  • I’m sorry, but there’s no such thing as “vegan-ish.” You either eat a vegan, or you don’t.  (Confused? See this post.) I’m not trying to be a stickler here. But let’s be real about it. You can say you don’t eat red meat, or are trying to eat more plant-based foods, or even that you limit animal products. But the truth is, if you eat any meat, dairy, etc, you’re technically not vegan.
  • Veganism shouldn’t be presented as a “diet.” It’s a way of life. If you choose to eat vegan, that’s your lifestyle. Just as if you choose to eat meat.

The Ugly

If you watch at least one part of the episode, I highly suggest you watch the clip where Lisa Ling goes into a slaughterhouse. Yes, it is a little graphic, and yes, you may find it disturbing. But as Michael Pollan says, it is important to at least be aware of where your food comes from. This is a completely un-glamorized view of what goes on — a straight-forward, matter of fact tour where the general manager explains the steps and the reasons behind them. For me, that view alone would be enough to stop eating meat (if I hadn’t already). But, I know that’s not true of everyone. Like I said before, Lisa Ling reports she is still eating it.

Anyway, at the end of the show, Michael Pollan (who is not in support of a completely vegetarian/vegan lifestyle I should add) talks a little about responsible farming. He is a huge proponent of free range farms, where the animals have a supposedly “happy” life….and “one bad day.” I have to admit I take some issue with this. It’s really easy to love the idea of a wonderful place where happy cows and chickens are allowed to wander about eating as they please instead of being cooped up in a pen all day. And I’m sure that is a much nicer experience for them. BUT (and this is a big but), if these animals are ultimately being raised for human consumption, does any of that really matter? Sure, it may be easier for us to swallow, but honestly — if a cow is born into the world with the sole purpose of being fattened up to become someone’s dinner, does it make that much of a difference how happy his life was?**

Finally, one of the last remarks made by the General Manager of Cargill was “We love vegans too!” Now seriously…as much as I appreciate the fact that they allowed the Oprah show into the slaughterhouse with their cameras, I found this statement a little hard to believe. Do you really love vegans Cargill?? Because if the whole world were vegan, something tells me you wouldn’t be all that excited about it.

Overall, I thought the episode was a good one. I love that Oprah brought information about veganism and the food industry to a mainstream audience. And now I’m very interested to hear your thoughts.

What did you think of the show in general? It’s portrayal of veganism? And do you think the whole emphasis on the slaughterhouse “respecting the animal” and “showing it dignity” is true or a bunch of media-hogwash?

**(I realize that eating meat is probably going to be a part of our normal culture forever — it’s a bit unrealistic to expect everyone to take up a plant-based diet. And of course I’m not advocating for animals to be mistreated since they’re going to be eaten anyway. So it’s important that the industry change and adopt humane standards for the livestock they’re raising. But, this is still something that I admittedly struggle with.)

44 Responses to “We Love Vegans Too”

  1. Erin @ Big Girl Feats

    I agree on so many points that you brought up in this post! I do think that devoting a whole show to a vegan lifestyle is awesome, especially for a show that reaches a huge population of Americans. While I have issue with the fact that there wasn’t a single recipe you could make that didn’t involve fake meat or processed food, I do think talking about the benefits of a plant based lifestyle is always a good thing. And I love Michael Pollan in everything he does so that part was great! I did want to yell at the TV when Oprah said that the cows didn’t feel pain right before they were killed – so getting shot in the head doesn’t hurt?! All in all, I really liked the episode.
    Erin @ Big Girl Feats´s last post ..An Ode

    • I agree!! And if it’s so humane, why couldn’t they show it?? They had no problem showing the workers taking the skin off the cows, which they claimed is the hardest part to watch. (not that I’d actually want to see it, but still….)

  2. Thank you for posting about this show. I curled up to watch it and next thing I know, it was 4:42! I fell asleep and missed the best parts. I’m really sad that I didn’t set the DVR. The points raised are so interesting and I feel they are very valid. I was raised as a meat ‘n potato eater, but now I struggle with meat in my diet, ethically and nutritionally and find myself eating less of them

    I’m sorry that the show didn’t go into more detail about the value of fresh produce to a healthy diet. I feel like a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables is really important to overall health.

    Now I will have to find this episode somewhere and watch it. Besides the fact that I love Michael Pollan, I just want to see it for myself.

  3. My issues with this episode is pretty simple: eating a plant based diet will not feed the nearly 7 billion people on this planet. Neither will having exclusively free range meat. I think it’s great that more attention is being brought to reducing meat consumption, but most families cannot afford meat substitutes like Gardein and Tofurky. Heck, I can barely afford it. Of course Harpo can afford to adopt a vegan cafeteria and the employees can do so at home. But it is much more realistic to show a snack of an apple and peanut butter than a smoothie with several fruits or toast with Daiya cheese. It also would have been much more appropriate to go into a chain grocery store like Kroger than Whole Foods, it just left a bad elitist taste. I completely agree with your thoughts on the lack of focus on fresh fruits and vegetables. And where were the legumes? A bag of dried beans costs literally $1 and can make at least two meals for a family of four.

    • I agree that it is not realistic to think that the entire planet can survive on a plant-based diet, and that it was in poor taste to show them only shopping at Whole Foods buying expensive meat alternatives. I really wish they had talked more about how the average person can easily make vegan meals on a low budget shopping at a regular grocery store. There was a lot of product placement, which made the show seem less than genuine. However, I think it’s tough because the show wasn’t really about increasing access to healthy foods…it was more about trying to educate their typical audience about veganism and eating less animal-based products to get healthy (or maybe I should say “to lose weight”). While I don’t think the two should necessarily be mutually exclusive, maybe the producers felt otherwise….maybe the demographic that watches Oprah does have the money to shop at Whole Foods…I don’t know.

  4. As much as I wish to become a full fledged vegetarian, it just will not happen for me. I have given up all meat, but yogurt, cottage cheese, egg whites, cheeses in general and creamer are items I just cannot seem to give up.

    My motivation for giving up meats was seeing the slaughter house scene in the Fast Food Nation movie last year. Seeing the same type of slaughter house on Oprah today just reinforced how I feel about it. It just totally breaks my heart.

    As for showing respect and dignity for the animal… it was media-hogwash that I couldn’t, didn’t and won’t accept.
    Jan´s last post ..A guy- a hotel room and a video spells relief for me!

    • Same here. I can’t look at the sad eyes of those animals and think about eating them. Plus, the condition in a lot of slaughterhouses is way worse than the one they showed. Seeing the chicken coops on “Food, Inc” made me sick.

  5. Sounds like an interesting show. I am energized and enthusiastic about the diet/lifestyle we chose several months ago. Wish we would have made that change years ago. We are following a plant based diet and feel great.

    • Hi Bonnie! I can’t seem to get onto your blog. I would love to see what you are up to. Can you email or forward the link to me again? Have you had a check up since you started eating this way? Any major changes Any challenges?

  6. I agree with SO much of this! I personally laughed out loud when Pollan said the thing about “one bad day.” I’m guessing a lot of those animals have more than just one. Oprah really latched onto that “vegan-ish” concept didn’t she?! And I didn’t like the emphasis on weight loss (although that was a good thing) because you’re right, it made veganism seem like a diet/weight loss tool. Ahhh! Either way, I’m really glad Oprah is getting the word out about veganism.
    megan @ the oatmeal diaries´s last post ..sweet n salty oats- a delicious din- &amp a new nut butter find

    • Yeah, unfortunately it seems like marketing something as a way to lose weight is what’s going to appeal to a good portion of Americans (or at least American women….)

  7. I just couldn’t believe that woman only went to the bathroom once a week!

    I also thought that the fake meat thing was a little odd. First of all, most people cannot afford to clean out their entire fridge and fill up a cart at Whole Foods. While Michael Pollan talked about how processed food is something that we need to get away from, it just seemed weird for them to then go on and talk about fake meat so much.
    Lee´s last post ..Not a Great Meal

    • Agreed!! All that fake stuff they showed is highly processed!! Honestly, I used to eat a lot of it when I first became a vegetarian, so I can see why they showed it — the meat alternatives can be a great “first step” of sorts for people who can’t see how to make a complete meal without the meat. But, you’re right…it was weird to have Pollan on talking about not eating processed foods while the entire shopping scenes were like one big advertisement for them.

  8. I didn’t see the episode but I wish I had! I hate to hear people say that they “just don’t want to know” about the slaughtering process and 100% agree with Michael Pollan’s point that it is important to know where your meat comes from. However, I do understand since I can be guilty of the same when thinking about dairy. Even organic dairy cows eventually become meat and their male calves become veal…but I don’t think about it every time I eat yogurt. Also, I agree with your point about the meat substitutes & Alex’s point about the cost issues. A limited income family can not afford to eat copious amounts of tempeh & chicken substitutes, but they can afford to eat more fruits and vegetables if they are smart. And while I know there is no such thing as vegan-ish, I am fully supportive of people limiting their meat intake if they can not commit to give it up completely (even though this is obviously better). Some people will NEVER be vegetarians, but if they realize how easy/healthy/cheap it is to eat vegetarian meals there are definitely benefits.

    Also, to answer your question: I DO think the whole respecting the animal’s dignity thing is BS. Like you said, his life is only created so that he can eventually be killed. Eat meat if you want but don’t try to make me think that that cow’s life was honored when he was born for the purpose of eventually becoming a packet of hamburgers.

    • Totally agree!

      And I have to admit I’m the same way about dairy as you. Maybe it’s a bit hypocritical of me to just not think about where it comes from/what happens to the cows. It’s something that I do struggle with a bit, but I still haven’t been able to give it up.

  9. I didn’t get to see the show, so thank you for the recap and your thoughts! I think it’s disappointing that the show portrayed fake “meat” as the primary substance of a vegetarian/vegan diet. I personally eat meat and believe that each person needs to make the choice that is right for them, but I do believe in being informed and making informed choices. I think to make it seem like vegetarians eat tofu-like things all the time just turns people off from considering making a vegetarian meal. I wish the show had focused more on eating more veggies and fruits and less processed foods, because that really is the root of so many of our health problems as a country.
    But hey, I guess this episode was a start. Hopefully gradually people will become more educated about healthy eating and vegetarian and vegan lifestyle.

  10. I think it’s great that we’re finally really talking about this on Oprah. But based on the tone of the show, I got the sense that people aren’t ready! I adore Oprah, but she’s not even ready yet. Hey, at least the conversation has started!

    Here’s my reaction to the show via twitter (@VeganMusic & @joyvalencia) Seriously, Michael Pollan said “growing meat” twice.
    – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

    See @Oprah yesterday?? #VeganOprah The staff went vegan for a week. @kathyfreston was fabulous!! But a lot of what was said by everyone else didn’t sit well with me. Things like “harvesting” animals and “growing meat”… And on top of that, at the end, Oprah said, “They don’t make them suffer.”

    Yes, maybe this one slaughterhouse is more humane * because it was designed by Temple Grandin, but let’s not give people the wrong impression here. This is one slaughterhouse that allowed the cameras inside (they were turned down by 20 others). You want to talk slaughterhouses? We should be talking about WHY the others feel they can’t allow cameras inside. Yes, it’s THAT BAD.
    *(I have issue with the word ‘humane’ in this context – it belongs nowhere near the thought of murder)

    DID I MENTION I LOVE PAUL MCCARTNEY?? <3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bip225MiDac "If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls.."

    "But there are farms in this country, and more of them all the time, where animals lead very happy lives and have one bad day." – Michael Pollan. Just wow. Those aren't the ones I pass on the freeway…
    Joy Valencia´s last post ..photo by Mark Duncan

    • I hate when those words are used in terms of animals too…but I guess, in essence, that’s what they’re doing.

      And I agree — the fact that Cargill let the camera crew in means it must be one of the better (if not the best…) in terms of how they treat the animals. However, scenes from that “humane” slaughterhouse were still highly disturbing.

      • Thanks, Lauren. Yeah, that is what they’re doing. And it’s their playing God that gets under our skin. The lack of respect for life. I agree, even this place was disturbing. Here’s my second post after I thought about it some more… ;)
        – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -
        Ok deeeep breath! lol Was getting a little riled up after reading all the tweets about #veganoprah. I feel like all in all, the show looked at the vegan lifestyle from a standpoint of health mostly. (Talking about it like it’s a diet to lose weight! They even asked the man who lost 11 lbs why he thinks he “succeeded”)

        I’m thinking the reason the show irked many vegans like myself is because we can tell that the people on the show think of animals as “livestock”.. as “product” or “crops” even. You can just tell when words like “harvesting” animals and “growing meat” slip out of their mouths. This is the difference. Because most vegans are not vegans for health! Sure, this is a great benefit and just another of the many reasons to be vegan (and the environment.. there are SO many reasons), but we are vegans out of COMPASSION. The main reason why *I’m* vegan is that I don’t want to contribute to the culture of suffering. Like Kathy Freston said, it doesn’t sit right with my soul. If people knew, I mean REALLY knew what it felt like for those animals…

        This describes how I feel about respecting life:
        Ahimsa – belief in the sacredness of all living creatures and urging the avoidance of harm and violence
        Joy Valencia´s last post ..photo by Mark Duncan

        • I didn’t even think about that! But I think the reality is that it’s a lot easier to market something as a “weight loss solution” these days. And I can also imagine that there were political reasons that factored into why they completely skimmed over that reason for being vegan. Oprah already got sued once by the meat industry…

  11. Great post Lauren!

    I thought how she presented vaganism was great. I’m guessing most of her regular viewers are not food bloggers and have no clue what being vegan really is.

    That being said, I hate how they focused on the two main health benefits of a vegan diet were being regular and attaining a healthy weight. True these are important parts of health, but they’re not the whole picture. And you can certainly get the benefits without being vegan.

    They also didn’t make a point of saying that veganism or vegetarianism for that matter isn’t for everyone. There’s one reason I still eat chicken once a week or so, because when I don’t eat any meat, I feel completely warn down despite getting adequate veggie protein.
    Jen´s last post ..New home

  12. I think you have raised a lot of interesting points here (as you aways do) and I think there will be varied opinions. With repects to the question: “BUT (and this is a big but), if these animals are ultimately being raised for human consumption, does any of that really matter?” My answer, as someone who eats poultry and fish but no red meat, is yes it does matter. I expect that humans treat all creatures with dignity and humanity regardless of the animal’s “purpose”. No animal deserves to suffer and I truly hope that no meat eaters would condone mistreatment just because the animal is going to become their dinner at some point. Eating meat is not synonymous with not caring for animals (I am not suggesting that you believe this in any way) and the food industry should reflect that sentiment.

    • You’re right and I do agree with that. I’m glad there are systems in place that are designed to minimize the suffering as much as possible. I guess it just seems a little crazy to me when people claim the animal doesn’t experience any suffering. It’s like they downplay what’s happening to make them feel better. A bullet through your brain may dull your pain receptors, but it’s hard to believe that there is absolutely no suffering that occurs when it takes several minutes after that to bleed out and die. Sorry, I’m not trying to be harsh or imply you feel this way…just trying to show that it’s not the fact that people are trying to treat the animals with some sort of dignity that I take issue with, just when some act like it’s completely painless and not a big deal.

  13. I’m sad I didn’t record or see the episode. Did they touch on anything about the dairy industry? I have seen information about the meat industry and slaughter houses, but I still feel uneducated about how ethically the dairy industry is run.
    Liz´s last post ..No Plans Sunday

    • They did not. It seems like most things shy away from talking about the dairy industry and I wonder why…? Is it just because the meat industry is so much worse, or is there another reason? I also feel super uneducated about it and sometimes feel like a hypocrite when I say that you should be aware of where your food comes from…and then I’m completely in the dark about all that.

  14. I watched the show at Lauren’s urging and felt the main idea to take away from this show was that we start being a bit more congizant of what we are putting in our bodies. It is completely unacceptable that we are more concerned with the quality of gas we put in our cars than about the quality of the crap we put in our bodies (no matter where we get it or what lifestyle we choose). Pollen says that if you do not know where your meat is coming from, you have no business eating it. In the same vein, if you do not know where or WHAT those chemical substances are in your processed/fast/packaged foods, you have no business eating that either. Unfortunately, EVERYTHING is now just a commercial for something. Kaishi sponsored this show as did Whole Foods, so you have to dig around the nicely placed commercials to get to the ‘meat’ of the message underneath. As a vegetarian living in a small town I can say that there is no Whole Foods or Trader Joes, we have small grocery stores that have a limited amount of fake meat and a Super Walmart (enough said about that). I think it would have been more beneficial if Kathy Freston had worked with the Harpo folks creating and cooking foods from basic items that one can find in any grocery store. But all in all, an interesting show. Love your blog Lauren! ;^)

    • Amen to that!! But I just don’t think it was geared to the demographic of the “typical” American. Maybe Oprah’s demographic tend to be people who can afford (and have access to) that stuff? I also wonder if they focused on a lot of fake meat (besides the advertising, of course) because many people who don’t know much about veganism/vegetarianism can’t imagine having a meal without meat in it…so finding a replacement is a first step.

  15. I watched it and I think your recap was pretty much right on.
    In reference to your disappointment about the show not touching much on a Vegan diet that does not just focus on meat substitutes, I will say that I think the episode was designed for the average meat eating American, not someone completely open to an overhaul of their entire diet. I think they were trying to appeal to “Joe Shmoe” that eats tons of meat and fast food for whom changing to a completely plant based diet with a huge overhaul of every day cuisine might seem really extreme. The strategy was to say, “hey, you can still have a burger, or spaghetti with meat sauce, using these products.” This way it’s less scary for someone who eats meat in every meal and you kind of open the door to moving into the vegetarian/vegan diet world. That’s how I saw what they were doing.
    Brittney´s last post ..A French Feast

    • I think you’re right, and that’s a great point! The typical American meal centers around the meat, so it can hard to imagine a meal that’s based solely on grains and veggies if you were raised on a “meat and potatoes” diet. It is good that they showed how there’s a non-meat/non-animal based alternative to pretty much anything.

  16. I love this post. I didn’t see Oprah yesterday so can’t really comment on the episode itself, but as a meateater I can comment on the way animals are treated while they are alive. I firmly believe that humans have always been meat eaters, and that a healthy diet does contain at least a little bit of meat (not every meal, not every day, but some). The truth of the matter is that humans (especially Americans) eat too much meat.

    That being said, I would much rather eat the meat of a cow who had been free to graze on grass (like nature intended) and move around, rather than a cow who has been fattened up with whatever the farmer could find while she was living in a stall.

    I have toyed with the idea of becoming vegetarian in the past, but it’s just not for me. I have a lot of respect and admiration for those that choose that lifestyle, however.
    Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle´s last post ..Ten Guilty Pleasures

    • I can definitely understand this. And I know if I ate meat, I’d feel the same (I guess even not eating meat I’d still rather they were raised in a way that let them develop freely than stuck in tiny stalls to get fattened up.)

      I also believe that being a vegetarian/vegan isn’t for everyone. I know some people just do not thrive on it. And heck — if our ancestors had never eaten meat, we wouldn’t have developed into the big-brained people we are today! :)

  17. I didn’t see the episode, but I just read about it elsewhere and I find it interesting. I’m all for starting a conversation of healthier and more balanced eating. I need to find this show online somewhere so I can see what I missed!
    Rach´s last post ..081608

  18. Great recap and breakdown! I didn’t get to see the show but I’ve been watching the reactions on twitter and the blog world. I really really wish she hadn’t advocated for so many faux meats and had simple said add more fruits and vegetables to EVERYONE’s diet! I do think that shifting towards a more plant-based diet (vegan-ish) is a step in the right direction, if you are adding in fruits and vegetables.
    Thanks for another great post!

  19. I happened to catch this episode as well (thanks to people mentioning it on twitter) and I’m really glad I did! I love Michael Pollan because I think his views are realistic….he’s okay with people being vegetarian, but he’s also okay with people not being vegetarian, as long as they think about their food. Most people don’t think about their food, which is how we got to where we are today.

    I really didn’t like how much they focused on fake meat…although I have no interest in eating it, I see why they have it, but to have most of the show focused on it? That was silly. It’s more important to focus on how you can use fruits and vegetables and beans and such instead of just fake meat.

    The “vegan-ish” comment also threw me…either you’re vegan or you’re not. It’s like being vegetarian but eating fish…you’re not vegetarian! The need for labels drives me up a wall…I don’t care what you eat, but don’t claim to be something you’re not. Annnd that’s that.
    Susan´s last post ..probably too much randomness

    • Exactly!! I hate that there’s like 20 different kinds of vegetarianism and a label for any possible way you want to eat. But…that being said…the whole point of labels is that they define something specifically. So you can’t be a vegan and eat meat sometimes. It’s just not possible, so why bother putting yourself in that box?

    • ” It’s like being vegetarian but eating fish…you’re not vegetarian!”

      I eat fish. When people ask me if I’m a vegetarian, I say yes. I think it would be ridiculous to say, “No, I’m not technically a vegetarian, but here is a list of what I do and do not eat.” That’s not practical. I think it’s silly to think that you, or anyone else for that matter, gets to determine who is and is not a vegetarian.

      I think the fact that many people see vegetarianism as all or nothing (as portrayed but militant vegetarians) scares them away.*

      • Hi Amy — I am certainly not saying that I get to decide who is and who isn’t a vegetarian and I don’t think Susan is either (especially since she herself is not one). Like I said above, I think it’s really dumb that we have the need for a million different labels to define every single thing about a person. But people like to put things into categories, and so they create all these labels to do just that. The basic definition of a vegetarian is someone who doesn’t eat meat. Fish is meat, so technically speaking if you eat it you’re not a vegetarian. I’m not trying to be militant about it or scare anyone away from the diet by saying it’s all or nothing. Food choices are highly personal and I don’t believe that not eating any meat at all is the right choice for everyone. And when it comes down to it, if you want to say you’re a vegetarian, then go ahead. But if you want to be technical about it, you could just say you’re a pescetarian…I would think that’s just as easy as saying you’re a vegetarian that eats fish.

        • As a “vegetarian who sometimes eats fish,” I too typically just say I’m a vegetarian, both because I eat fish increasingly rarely (and usually only in small amounts) and because if I say pescetarian, I’ll probably still then need to explain that that means “vegetarian who eats fish”! That said, I don’t usually feel a need to use a label, but if someone asks if there are any vegetarians in the room (when ordering pizza or food for large groups), I generally raise my hand because I live in Wisconsin and the odds of the “meat” in question being fish are slim, and I don’t have a problem not eating fish if it is for some reason offered either. Sorry for the long-winded response!

  20. This is a fascinating post and a great recap both of the show (which I didn’t see) and the vegan world in general. You made so many great points it’s hard to know where to start. First, I can imagine how frustrating it is to see them promote the fake meat products… but as Jen mentioned, it is amazing how much the average person doesn’t know about being a vegan or vegetarian. Honestly, it really amazes me how much processed foods the average even “healthy” person eats. You should come to my office and hang out around the microwaves at lunchtime. Everyone eats those microwavable meals with the processed meats and they think its good for them. I guess if you want the average person to enjoy a “vegan” lifestyle they may want to eat meals that are similar to what they eat now. And maybe thats just a starting point. Once they go vegan, hopefully people will drop the fake meats. Although I didn’t see the show, I also wish they talked more about fresh veggies and fruit as well as the amazing grains that are out there- barley, quinoa, etc. It also would have been a great opportunity to talk about CSAs, something I’m sure most people don’t know about. When I joined my CSA in june, I started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables and eliminating meat. I will never be 100% vegetarian but if I cook 5 nights a week, 3 of those are vegetarian.

    Thank you for this post- you always bring up such amazing topics.
    Lizzy´s last post ..10K-Speed-Monthly Recap

    • CSAs are definitely a great thing that they could have at least touched on!! That’s something that could do a lot more for a person’s health than eating fake meat.

  21. The vegan diet still is a really good way to lose weight though. And yeah, I read it, not all vegan food is good for you. But still, I’ve heard of many people who have lost weight on it.
    BeautyRun´s last post ..Dinner Today Blog Updates-

  22. Love this post title. I was actually really impressed with the rep from Cargill and the fact that they opened up their slauterhouse to such scrutiny…and then at the very end she had to go and say “we love vegans too.” Seriously lady? Also didn’t love the push for fake meat products.

  23. i hadn’t heard about this at all, so thanks for sharing. i’m super guilty of eating a lot of meat replacement. mr. dawn gets after me about it all the time. we’ve started to move towards fruits/veggies being our main intake and supplementing that with occasional fake meat….it makes a huge difference!
    the dawn´s last post ..how to spend a snow day

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