This week, the big news in the vegan community is that Oprah is trying a 21-day “cleanse” in which she is eliminating caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten and animal products from her diet as a way to jump-start an inner makeover. Oprah is following this plan from a book called Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston. I have not read this book, but I know that Kathy recommends conscious eating, which not only includes being conscious of every bite you eat, but also includes “spiritual integrity” which means eating healthier and in a way that involves no animal suffering. In her blog, Oprah writes, “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?”
While some people switch to a vegan diet for health reasons, others, like Oprah, are switching over for ethical or spiritual reasons. Whatever the reason may be, I have to admit I’m thrilled with Oprah’s latest trend. Whatever this TV icon touches turns to gold, and I see nothing wrong with fans jumping on the meat and dairy free “bandwagon” Oprah is driving. We could all use a little nudge in our strive to be healthier. While I’m all for Registered Dietitians (ahem, ahem) being THE experts in nutrition, I certainly don’t oppose someone as influential as Oprah promoting a diet that significantly reduces consumption of foods that contain saturated fat and cholesterol – which is found in meat and dairy products – and can in turn reduce your risk of heart disease. I don’t love the fact that the book’s author is promoting a “cleanse,” when in reality, a healthy lifestyle and eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol should last a lifetime and not a mere three weeks.
I am curious to track Oprah’s progress and see what happens after her 21 days are up. For now, though, she seems hooked and satisfied with this way of eating, as she wrote on her blog, “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.”