Oprah’s Vegan “Cleanse,” Part Deux
I started replying to some comments then decided to post my response as a post instead, hoping more people would see.
It’s 6am and I just reviewed the latest comments on Oprah’s discussion board about her "Look 10 years younger" show (wherein she introduced the idea of the 21-Day Cleanse), and I think there’s one other abolitionist one in addition to the one I left yesterday. The idea is ignored. No surprise there. There’s a lot of talk from farmers who want everyone to see how well the animals are treated, to a dozen people who say: What’s wrong with cheese and eggs? (despite people telling them what’s wrong), to talk of God (blessing farmers and such). Thankfully, a couple of people have listed books–they’re probably PCRM people from the look of the lists. And there are links to the Pew study, Livestock’s Longshadow and the University of Chicago Study–so that’s great. One person, katybkaty, whom I think does not have a job, has been on the board since it started and is a reasonable, educated person who has been providing a steady stream of useful information, though none of it abolitionist in nature.
There’s a fair amount of ranting, however, and I think that, in addition to Oprah perhaps going the way of happy meat, will indeed create a situation in need of damage control (as Dan commented yesterday). And it’s simply up to Oprah and her producers to decide whether they want to present a different story. That’s why I suggest designing a show and sending your ideas in. Someone suggested katybkaty be a guest on Oprah because she’s been so helpful, and after all of the people recommending certain authors and doctors, I can’t imagine them not doing a show on veganism. It’s begging to be done and it would take very little effort as an enormous amount of research has been handed to the producers through the comments on the boards.
Now, Bea directed me to all of the other threads that have developed, including "frustorated [sic] miss understood eating meat," by a farmer who wants to see Michael Pollan on the show (that was inevitable), and "21 days toward better health," which informs us that Erik Marcus will be doing a podcast every day during the 21 days. I think that’s a great idea (though I do disagree with his welfarism).
Here’s the best we can hope for:
- The producers do a show on where your food comes from or on veganism. Michael Pollan is a given for the former show, and I’d assume that Ingrid Newkirk is a given for the latter, as PeTA is the largest "animal rights" organization in the country.
- For where your food comes from, the upshot is happy meat and SOLE (sustainable, organic, local and/or ethical, and ethical means happy meat).
- For veganism, there are myriad points of entry as well as many perspectives, and as you know abolitionists are a minuscule percentage. I’d at least want a voice that tells the world what abolition is, and compares it to past struggles for justice. My pick would have to be Gary Francione as he is an academic and has written books about this topic. Someone needs to plant a seed that isn’t about suffering. My other pick would be Rae Sikora, whom I think would be better received (not to mention she is within Oprah’s demographic), and whose style I greatly admire. I’d love to see Dr. Steven Best on the show, but I don’t think the world is ready for him. Dr. Kerrie Saunders would be perfect for the health perspective, as she also is within the demographic AND she had a successful vegan pregnancy and has a healthy vegan child. From the cooking camp, I’d choose Colleen from Compassionate Cooks. Sistah Vegan would be required, in my perfect world. Jeffrey Masson would be fabulous as he has a great story of evolution to veganism and abolition, and he’s a best-selling author and has a new book coming out next year called THE FACE ON YOUR PLATE. This year’s release of Peaceable Kingdom would be a great tie-in, as well.
Again, I suggest all of you creative types dig into whatever bag of tricks you use to develop a show idea (and submit it here, and keep it to 2000 characters). We may never get another opportunity to do this, so let’s at least do our best to be heard. And I don’t like raising this topic, but remember that television is a visual medium and remember who Oprah’s audience is. You don’t want to alienate her viewers. Furthermore, you want to provide them with alternatives to the image they have in their minds–right or wrong–about who vegans are, what we look like and how we present ourselves to the world.