In 2011, Oprah Winfrey and her 378 employees stopped eating animals for a week. Oprah acted like she survived a second eruption of Mount Vesuvius and quickly gave it up. Her vegan adventure was hailed as the coming of the Messiah until people realized that not all exposure is good exposure. Showing how she couldn’t continue to live on delicious plant-based food while sparing animals from being punched in the face wasn’t exactly an endorsement of the lifestyle.
You may have forgotten Oprah tried going vegan–personal chef included–for 21 days in 2008 and just couldn’t continue.
Recently reminded for the thousandth time that the animals she eats suffer miserably and that eating them is indefensible, Oprah is climbing the five foot high mountain again.
This time Oprah announced to her 33 million Twitter followers that she is going to participate in Meatless Monday. A cursory scan of the response on Twitter appears positive with most people saying they will join her or that they already go meatless every day of the week. This is a good outcome that can also lead to people giving up eating animals completely. But let’s not go overboard.
“Oprah Goes Vegan!” a frenzied internet exclaimed. No. Oprah is not vegan. Everybody calm down. And let’s keep it real: Simply because someone has 33 million followers doesn’t mean they all read a tweet or listen. A few thousand people liked the post, most of whom are probably already on board since the announcement was publicized in pro-animal social media circles. “Oprah’s followers will probably all go meatless on Mondays now!” one historically optimistic person declared. No.
It is instructive to take note of how absurd it is that someone worth more than $3 billion with personal chefs who can make plant-based meals indistinguishable from animal-based meals portrays the lifestyle as such a struggle. It is also alarming that someone who stands on one of the highest pedestals of compassion is so married to cruelty and continues to refuse to choose kindness over killing when it requires her to make such a slight adjustment.
Oprah is fully aware of the violence in animal agriculture and its impact on the environment. She chooses to continue to eat animals. Her example should serve as a sobering wake up call to people who think the world is going vegan. Imagine how far the animal rights movement has to go if it can’t even convince Oprah, widely considered the most empathetic person on earth outside of her disdain for farmed animals, to stop eating animals.
Discerning animal advocates are still waiting for the day when Oprah looks at all animals–the chicken, pig, cow, turkey, goat, and fishes–and says, “You get to live, and you get to live, and you get to live!” Maybe we should put a free veg starter guide under her chair.