Oprah Goes Vegan–Again–Sort Of–Not Really

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.

In a few weeks, expect Oprah to announce that not eating tortured animals one day of the week was just too dang hard. Forgive my skepticism but I’ve seen this episode before. It’s a repeat.

6 thoughts on “Oprah Goes Vegan–Again–Sort Of–Not Really

  1. Much of this is true, Andrew. However, we also don’t know how many more viewed that episode and did not respond on social media but were affected, just the same. While Oprah may not continue with her Meatless Monday pledge or ever go vegan, there was important information shared during that episode that will affect some folks who may not otherwise have been exposed to it. So, we can either focus on Oprah herself or be glad that an influencer (even if a bit hypocritical) helped raise awareness among her followers. I’m glad this got out there because she has far more among her network than most of us.

  2. It was nice to see Wayne Pacelle explain so easily that anyone who truly loves animals should not be eating them. Why can’t Oprah get it???

    1. She gets it. She just has issues with food. That’s fine. But she should OWN it. She can’t bill herself as the world’s beacon of kindness as she knowingly continues to contribute to the ruthless abuse of animals for so many years. She is capable of doing better. I’ll continue to hope for a more sustained outcome–for whatever it’s worth–given her platform.

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