Oprah, Vegan? I think not. I happened to catch the tail end of her show today as I was preparing to catch up on the evening news. Lo and behold, Oprah did (or is in the middle of…I didn’t catch that part) a 21 day vegan challenge with her staff. It’s an interesting subject. The guests on the show were Kathy Freston, author of Veganist. Also featured was Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules and In Defense Food:An Eater’s Manifesto.

Michael Pollan's Book

I appreciated the statement from Pollan when he said, “Meat is not bad.” He made it clear that meat, in moderation, is not a bad thing. The “Veganist” even agreed but also mentioned that it was a conviction of hers to stand up for animal rights and to not contribute to animal cruelty. Oprah interjected that not all animals are treating cruelly, and it is important to understand that point. Pollan then commented that animals have a great life and just one bad day (haha).

Kathy Freston's Book

I have to say that I’m not usually impressed with Oprah, especially when the subject is health, diet, or fitness. People like trends and quick fixes and, unfortunately, Oprah likes to highlight those messages on her show with the guise that they are researched to be true. However, I was impressed with what little I saw today. At least with Michael Pollan there he was able to provide balance to the conversation. (P.S. I’ve read a couple of his books, and, for the most part, agree with his ideas.)

My opinion about veganism:

1. It is not the solution to all health problems. However, it can be a healthier option for some people.

2. It has it’s own risks including many vitamin and mineral deficiencies including iron. It is possible to supplement with the correct nutrients, but this needs to be done with care and under the supervision of a dietitian. Additionally, as with vegetarians, protein consumption is tricky and requires research about combining amino acids (again, meet with an RD!)

3. I don’t believe veganism is the best solution for weight loss. I think it should be saved for people who have strict convictions about animals (whether or not the convictions are justified is a whole other issue). Weight loss is about balance and moderation. The kind of restriction required by the vegan diet is just not practical and rarely sustainable.

4. In ALL cases, people who are vegans or are planning to take steps in that direction NEED to counsel with a registered dietitian to be sure that all nutrition related issues are addressed.

I’d love to hear any personal stories about veganism, good or bad. Please comment!

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