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Living Well

When Oprah Speaks...

May 23, 2008

People listen. A few months ago, millions of viewers watched an episode of Oprah that exposed the horrors of puppy mills, and learned the truth about what exactly their money is supporting when they buy a dog from a pet store.

Now, Oprah is embarking on 21 days of veganism. Yup, that’s right—the word ‘vegan’ was spoken on her show, with countless viewers paying close attention. Her diet will actually be more restrictive than a vegan diet; she is going on a 21-day “cleanse,” avoiding not only red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy, but also sugar, gluten, and alcohol. That makes plain ol’ veganism look downright easy!

Kathy Freston, vegan, spiritual counselor, and author of Quantum Wellness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Health and Happiness, is guiding Oprah as she walks this path. Oprah is also keeping a daily blog, and one of the lines in her first blog really made me happy:

How can you say you’re trying to spiritually evolve, without even a thought about what happens to the animals whose lives are sacrificed in the name of gluttony?

Though I’m generally skeptical of “fasts” and “cleanses,” which are usually undertaken with the expectation of quick weight loss, I’m glad to see that Oprah is thinking beyond herself with this one. Hopefully, she’ll stick with it longer than 21 days. With the extra restrictions she’s placed on her diet beyond veganism, I hope it’s not too much for her and doesn’t get written off as impractical or extreme. Another risk I see is Oprah potentially turning into a fan of “happy meat”—free-range animal products or really, any product featuring a smiling cartoon version of the creature about to be eaten—and offering that as the spiritually evolved solution.

I’ve got my fingers crossed, though—this is Oprah, and she has access to a lot of great vegan experts who can help her through any challenge she encounters in the next couple weeks. So far, she seems to be open-minded and enjoying the experience. From her blog on Monday:

Wow, wow, wow! I never imagined meatless meals could be so satisfying. I had been focused on what I had to give up—sugar, gluten, alcohol, meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese. “What’s left?” I thought. Apparently a lot. I can honestly say every meal was a surprise and a delight, beginning with breakfast—strawberry rhubarb wheat-free crepes.

Hey, we could’ve told her that! But seriously, best of luck to Oprah; I’m glad she’s open to giving this a try.

—Lisa Barley, Associate Editor/Web Editor

As seen in Vegetarian Times Magazine

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