Saturday, February 5, 2011

Oprah & Dinner Peace, Part III

Along with Michael Pollan, Oprah invited Kathy Freston, best-selling vegan author. Freston is not a nutritionist, but she has been vegan for 7 years, and she’s a pretty good advertisement for the lifestyle. One Oprah staffer even told Freston that she would become vegan if she could look like Freston! Kathy is responsible for encouraging Oprah to try a 21 day vegan, gluten-free, caffeine-free, and alcohol-free cleanse last year, and she led Oprah and her staff in their week-long vegan challenge.

Kathy’s main message is to “lean into” a vegan diet, taking small steps toward living a life free of animal products. I am hugely in favor of this idea. My first experience with veganism was a whole-hearted leap into the lifestyle. During the six weeks of Lent, I vacillated between enthusiasm and reluctance toward this lifestyle. After Lent was over, I knew I could never go back to the way I had eaten before, but I was unprepared to never eat another hamburger, or eggs benedict, or lasagna. I spent the next few weeks having my last animal products, and quickly felt ready to let it all go for good. For me, “leaning in” was the key to committing to a vegan lifestyle.

“Leaning in” can mean a lot of different things, from “Meatless Mondays” to Mark Bittman’s “vegan before 7:00 pm.” Writing this blog for the last six months has been my way of promoting the idea of “leaning in.” Embracing a vegan diet even once a week can have a monumental impact on the environment, the food system, and your health. Directing your money toward plant foods rather than animal foods sends a strong message to the American food industry about our desire for a more humane and sustainable product.

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