I WATCHED OPRAH GO VEGAN: Now What!?

This afternoon The Oprah Show devoted an entire episode to veganism. Her staff was issued a 1-week challenge to go vegan at work and at home. Reporter Lisa Ling went inside a slaughterhouse to show everyone where meat comes from. Author Kathy Freston (one of my all-time favorite vegan authors – she ties in the spiritual aspect of eating a plant-based diet which I love) was on the show promoting her new book Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy and Change the World – and helping everyone at Harpo get adjusted.

You don’t need to commit to being vegetarian or vegan 100% of the time to reap the benefits and still help yourself, animals and the earth. But every time you make a plant-based diet decision, you benefit ALL of those things!

Pizza tart with broccoli almond-walnut pesto and fresh tomatoes on whole wheat crust.

If you saw this show and are thinking of ways to “lean into” vegan eating, or just go “vegan-ish” a few times a week and don’t know how to start – let me help you!

I am available to:

  • take you food shopping! I’ve been on a budget my whole life, and know the importance of saving money and making healthy meals that taste good on a limited amount of money. Supermarkets can be overwhelming and hard to navigate. I can work with you by going to your grocery store (it’s okay that we don’t have Whole Foods!) and showing you how to shop the store, as well as introduce some new local stores (like ethnic markets and farmers markets).

    Marinated mushroom and mixed greens sandwich on whole grain bread; grilled asparagus with peanut sauce

  • help you with the basics of cooking. This includes everything from getting the right kitchen tools to basic pantry staples. The right tools will make cooking EASY and FAST, and you don’t need to spend  hundreds of dollars on fancy appliances. Learning basic cooking methods like how to roast veggies and make tofu delicious will help you infinitely! By having some herbs and spices on hand and knowing how to blend them, you can make very inexpensive, low-fat  meals any time.

    Chilled berry mousse dessert (dairy-free)

  • help you learn about plant-based diets and nutrition. If you want to ask the tiresome “Where do you get your protien?”, I’d be happy to retort with “Where do you get your fiber, B-vitamins, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron…. shall I go on?” You can get ALL THE PROTEIN YOU NEED from a plant-based diet. Did you know, ounce for ounce, broccoli has TWICE AS MUCH protein as steak? It’s true!  There are so many wacky food myths – we can set the record straight!

    Spicy veggie stir fry with wide rice noodles and peanuts.

I believe in welcoming, informative and fun education and would love to help you incorporate vegan cooking into your life in a way that feels right for you. You will save money, increase your health and help the earth and animals as well as yourself.

Please comment here or contact me to get started! savethekales@gmail.com

*Here is the disclaimer where I tell you that veganism is NOT only about food, but a lifestyle and for many, a belief system that shines through in day-to-day life, decision making, etc… There are MANY wonderful resources and people educated on helping you learn more about those aspects.
I’m happy to help with the food since I am most confident in my abilities on that topic. If you’d like help finding more information, me or other readers would love to assist in any way we can! Just ask!

11 thoughts on “I WATCHED OPRAH GO VEGAN: Now What!?

  1. aw, jaime, you rule! i love how you keep the world of veganism so positive, relatable, and accessible!!!! keep up the great work!

    • Aw thank you Tom P! That means a lot. I get into conversations with a lot of strangers (that usually stem from cooking questions, etc…) and always get sad at how many people immediately become defensive about not being vegan, as though they are just WAITING to get into an argument, etc. Just this week I got an email from someone asking for help, and they said “I don’t think could ever do it all the time, but…” and it’s like, hey. No. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. We all do things with different motivations, at different paces, and I think when you can show this sort of thing as welcoming and inviting instead of a secret members only club, it takes some of that skepticism and aggression off.

      Blah blah, I’m rambly, I REALLY appreciate your comment, thank you🙂

  2. I wanted to say that I love that you are doing this! People often do want to make the change but don’t know how. They think it’s hard, they don’t know how/what to cook. It requires a a bit of a different way of looking at food. Most people have been so used to the convention of eating meat. (That’s why they often also get defensive. Our choice not to eat animal products makes them feel cruel (or lacking our compassion) or bad. Colleen Patrick – Goudreau said something about that in a podcast once as well. ) But what I noticed is that people who are contemplating vegetarianism or veganism need is someone who will help them figure out the practical stuff. I always offer to give people recipes. But what you are doing is even better! It’s amazing! Thank you for doing this. By the way have you read “The World Peace Diet?”

    • Your comment made me so happy🙂

      I love Colleen’s work for that very reason. When I was in the midst of a deep depression, I would take long walks and listen to her podcasts and would often times get moved to tears (I’m a mushball anyway, but still) because her kindness and genuine LOVE just radiates. It draws people into what she is saying. She is one of the most prominent influences in me deciding to start this blog in the first place.

      When you’ve had the mental shift long ago, about respecting animals and living as best you can not to harm them and thus leave more peacefully in your own mind, it can be REALLY hard to understand how other people don’t see that. I completely understand why people can take an aggressive approach – it’s maddening. What we do it animals in this world is absolutely maddening. Every time I hear someone complain about Michael Vick being cruel to dogs I wonder if they think about other animals the same way they think about dogs. It’s upsetting.

      But (as you know) people have done such a good job in shielding cruelty, or making it commonplace or “the natural order”, that we get upset if a dog or cat is left out in the cold too long but think nothing of eating animals literally bred just to be abused and then killed for us to eat. Because meat tastes good?

      It takes initiative to find out about this stuff, and that’s what we have to remember. I think making this topic accessible and inclusive will always be, for me, a better approach than guilt or a “how can you not do this, you are a horrible person” attitude. Thank you for the support!

      I know for me, food was the thing I wondered about the most (“What CAN you eat, then!?”) and for most people I talk to, it’s the same thing. I am confident in my ability to help guide people by starting with food. There is a lot I am continuing to learn and want to learn about all of the other aspects.

      And I have NOT read that yet, but listened to Colleen’s podcasts about it and how great it is. I think I’m going to seek it out online right now. Thank you for reminding me about it, and for your wonderful insight.🙂

  3. Love your tiny disclaimer! Wish that came on all shows, articles, panels …. about veganism. Pretty much 100% of “ex-vegetarians” or “ex-vegans” I’ve met never understood this in the first place, methinks!

    • Pam, I realized after I posted this (and the help of some friends reminding me of it) it’s an important point to make. Oprah’s staff “went vegan” in terms of food, but didn’t necessarily touch on other aspects.

      It would be hard to cram all of into an hour long show, about 40 minutes with commercials, and even less time when you have folks like Michael Pollan negating everything you try to say. It would be like saying “Today’s show is all about Buddhism!” and attempting to touch on every single point of the lifestyle, belief system, decision-making, etc…. that goes into it. I’m glad it happened, I’m glad it got people talking. I am about halfway through Freston’s new book and I love her because she is kind and understanding of the process. I think she was a WONDERFUL person to speak about it, I just wish she had more time to touch on things besides food. I think her warmth and kindess appeals to a lot of people that are otherwise put off.

      • “It would be hard to cram all of into an hour long show”

        This is a valid point. 37-40 minutes of TV time does not allow for in depth discussion of anything (especially something with so many aspects, like veganism). It would honestly take a week of episodes that length to cover everything, and it isn’t likely someone like Oprah would dedicate an entire week to one subject (especially in her final season). Particularly when you consider that veganism is one of those things that you find out new things about all the time (did you know that plastic supermarket bags contain fish oil? That’s a new one to me.)

        Still, it might have been nice to see them mention, even in a quick sentence, that veganism extends beyond diet. But, that might be a bit much for the average Oprah viewer. I’m glad they (Oprah+staff) did at least have the courage to talk about factory farming/slaughterhouses, even if they did it in a sorta sugar-coated kind of way.

  4. It was weird when the lady who owned the slaughterhouse was describing the kill process. “We put a metal spike into their head which renders them unable to feel. Then in ONLY ABOUT A MINUTE OR TWO, all their blood drains out and they are dead. They die from the blood loss, not the spike. BUT THEY DON’T EVEN FEEL IT, GOLLY GEE!”

    I will say, Pollan made a point that I was surprised he stated to blatantly, which was “If you are going to eat meat, you should know where it comes from and how it gets to your plate.”

    I don’t like the idea of telling people how they should or shouldn’t do something (even if it’s eating meat or whatever), but that seemed like a responsible point to make. Even if people couldn’t care less about the animals, it’s good consider what they are ACTUALLY eating anyhow. I think the “you should know where it comes from/what it is” idea expands across the whole spectrum of food!

  5. Oh Treebark! I love you and miss you!

    Can you do a CCC-sister a big favor… in your quest to educate the masses, don’t forget to tell them not to bite the flesh-eaters! I try to treat food choices like religion. You (meaning anyone) are entitled to whatever beliefs are right for you. I have no right to criticize them, and if you are invited into my home or social sphere I will do my best to accommodate you. But in return, you should extend the same courtesy to those who don’t hold the same beliefs.

    I’m constantly amazed by the snidely superior, aggressive, or pushy behavior of some vegans and vegetarians I’ve met… and all that attitude does is help create a negative stereotype.

    Westboro Baptist doesn’t have hordes of new converts who have ‘seen the light’ because of their protests and angry signs… your positive actions should speak much louder than your disapproving thoughts.

    • This is something I believe whole-heartedly, and I NEVER want to become the person that is critical of someone else. It’s interesting you mention veganism/vegetarianism is like a religion – I feel exactly the same way. It is a structure of beliefs that you believe in, live your life by, and explain to others when given the chance.

      I do not want someone trying to “convert” me to their beliefs, and I also know that sometimes the criticism in the way of animal rights is, essentially, the same thing as someone saying “You can’t be a part of our church anymore because you had a baby out of wedlock, and a ‘real’ Christian would never do that”, that sort of thing.

      That said, if people choose to use aggression to “educate” others about animal rights, etc… it’s not my place to say they can’t. I choose not to do it, but I understand where the passion comes from. I do my best to make this site (in whatever control I have over the content) be a place of welcoming new perspectives and education.

      I’m not sure if your comment came from something I’ve personally said? But in any case, we’re on the same page about that. I’m going to keep fighting the good fight, but respect others for doing things in the way they choose, whether or not I agree with the tactics.

      Miss you too!

      • Never from you darling! Never from you… you always opened my eyes and ears. (I still think of you and muffins when I hear the badger song). I think in some ways, we are just from TOTALLY different planets.

        I feel that just like sharing religion, if someone expresses an interest in your point of view, or even an openness to hearing about it, then educate away! I’ll try to participate in a conversation anytime. I’m always curious as to how people overcome issues when it comes to food. Our diet is soy protein, shrimp and raw tomato free due to our combined allergies. I’ll gladly share my tips for making my own tomato sauce when I can’t touch tomatoes (very thick gloves, open windows, and a girlfriend to do the chopping) with anyone who asks, and I’m always curious to hear about natural sources of B12 to share with Heather’s vegan co-workers.

        I’ll also gladly educate people on why I DO choose to eat meat, but am very selective about the standards for it. Whole Foods has a great new Animal Welfare rating system. I vote with my wallet every day. I choose to spend more to ensure that the chicken I buy had access to natural foraging, never had its beak clipped, and never had the trauma of being packed into a shipping container to spend hours on the road before slaughter.

        I also feel that Americans today are so far removed from their food that they no longer understand it. Kids today are raised to think that meat comes from the grocery store, but animals live in petting zoos. I often wonder if early education about the food industry would increase or decrease the percentage of meat-free Americans. I grew up in a rural area. My father hunted, I helped my mom clean pheasant and scale fish. I knew and respected where my food came from.

        Back to cranky-pants folks…
        I was thinking more about Heather’s customers at Whole Foods… and even some of my coworkers. I once almost snapped at a woman who made some *just-loud-enough-to-barely-hear* comment about meat and obesity. I turned around to see her toddler eating puffed soy snacks. There’s nothing wrong with that in her mind. But I’m more morally opposed to eating Monsanto GMO products than I am to eating meat.

        Another example, I have a coworker who is vegetarian. Every year around the holidays, we get to leave the office and go out for a long lunch as a unit. Every year, our supervisor asks for suggestions of where to go. And every year this coworker says, I can find something wherever. So, we pick a place (this year, a nice little family owned Italian place) and send the menu around so people can veto if they’re not OK with it. And every year without fail, she says nothing, then announces at the restaurant that she’ll just have to get a salad because there’s nothing she can eat. When we pointed out this year that there were at least 8 meat free pasta entrees or a grilled veggie anti-pasta platter… she mumbled something about not liking the offerings.

        It drives me up a wall. In my book, if you refuse to contribute to the when given the chance, you have to make do with the outcome.

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