Oprah Raises Awareness of Vegan Diets
When one of the most influential women in the world recommends something—whether it’s a new movie, a new novel, or a new diet—millions listen. That’s why it was so exciting when TV megastar Oprah Winfrey announced in late May that she would try a 21-day vegan diet.
Oprah followed the three-week “cleanse” developed by conscious living counselor Kathy Freston in her new book, Quantum Wellness. The diet, which is meant to enhance physical as well as spiritual well-being, eliminates not just meat and dairy products, as the typical vegan diet does, but also alcohol, sugar, caffeine, and gluten.
Freston considers a “conscious” diet as the most important of all the wellness practices outlined in her book. "It doesn’t only make a difference to our own personal health and well-being,” she says, “but conscious eating means you stay aware of where your food comes from, how the animals are treated, and how the environment is affected by the foods that you eat.”
The minute Oprah announced she and several of her staff—the Vegan Cleanse Team—would begin the three-week diet, headlines reporting on her experiment began appearing throughout the country. Oprah also blogged throughout the three-week period, sharing both the pleasures and challenges of the cleanse. As she wrote in one of several postings raving about the food, “Wow, wow, wow! I never imagined meatless meals could be so satisfying.”
Oprah also posted many of the meals she and her teammates enjoyed, including Cajun-Seared Portobello Fillets with Avocado Cream. Her site even includes a video of one of the lunches the Vegan Cleanse Team shared.
Although Oprah has not announced that she has gone permanently vegan, her three-week experiment clearly opened her eyes to the environmental, health, and ethical reasons for vegan diets. As she writes in her final post, “What I know for sure is I’ve reached a new level of awareness about food, eating and the whole process of how it gets to my table. I will forever be a more cautious and conscious eater.”
As for the impact on the rest of America? We know that countless fans tried the diet along with her. We know that Kathy Freston’s book is on both The New York Times and Amazon.com bestseller lists. And we know that legions of TV viewers who may never have heard anything about vegan diets now are better informed. Thank you, Kathy and Oprah.