Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What's that wacky Oprah up to now?

Somehow, my little blog has far too much content about Oprah Winfrey. I don't know why it keeps happening. Part of it is due, obviously, in that she chooses to cover certain subjects that are relevant to the topics posted here. But it's still surprising to me how often I stumble upon it since I never watch her show.

No, really. It's true. I never watch it. I swear I don't. I don't record it either. This isn't some attempt on my part to reinforce my masculinity either, I really never see her show. Besides, I've already established that endeavour to be a lost cause.

Most recently, one of the great many newsletters I subscribe to pointed out that the divine Mrs O went on a body cleansing program of sorts by which she became vegan for three weeks. In fact, she went BEYOND vegan.

The plan is to eliminate caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten and animal products from your diet for up to 21 days.


This generated some excitement among the usual suspects of the treehugger world. There's no questioning the reach and influence that O-Dub has so if she gives this a pass, it might convince a great many people to give it a whirl too, right?

So how did it go? Well, I haven't read her entire blog about it (I swear I haven't), but it seems to have gotten off to a nice start...

Week One: Wednesday
I just cleaned my dinner plate, down to the last grain of brown rice left under my oh-so-deliciously seasoned soy chicken. I can not believe how tasty, spicy and wonderful it all was. I'm ever more surprised at how I don't miss anything and feel so satisfied at every meal. Bravo to Tal! By Day 4, I'm usually climbing the walls or craving sweets—or ready to throw in the towel on any other diet plan. I'm a little nervous about the weekend. Tal cooks our last meal for the week tomorrow, and I've got to go to Las Vegas for Tina and Cher. Vegas and vegan don't seem to mix. — Oprah

And she concludes, at the start of week four, with...

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 used to say thanks before a meal out of perfunctory habit. Now I consider it true grace to be able to eat anything in a world of increasing food shortages and starving people.

This has been exactly what we intended: enlightening. I will forever be a more cautious and conscious eater. That's my commitment for now. To stay awakened.

Thank you for escorting us along the journey to wellness.

We're not quantum quality yet, but "leaning in."

Does that mean she's remaining vegan? I doubt it. It would be interesting if someone would contact her a year from now to see whether her mindset has remained as enlightened as she felt right then.

That's all fine and good and I appreciate that she approached the whole thing with an open mind because certain habits (wine, apprently, in her case) required considerable effort to break. And it's not as though she has any specific reason to try this.

But in terms of being intrigued by the vegan lifestyle of people in the public eye, there's someone I find far more intriguing. This guy:

This is Mac Danzig and as you might have peiced together, he's involved in mixed martial arts. I don't watch Ultimate Fighting, and I don't know this guys from a hole in the ground.

So why do I find his potential impact more interesting? A couple of reasons.

a) Not everyone has someome cook for them like Oprah does (I do, but it's hardly a point of pride. I love you, Christine!). No matter how much she gushes about her various experimentations, not everyone has expert advice.

In fairness, her chef took off after a while, and Danzig has a trainer, but he would seem to be closer to the level of the average person in terms of resources. When I mentioned Oprah's little project to an acquaintance, that Oprah will have everyone else do the work (besides eating, presumably) was the first thing out of her mouth. So the credibility factor may not be all that high after all.

b) Target audience. There's a perception that vegetarians and vegans are missing key nutrients. This guy doesn't look in too bad shape to me, and it doesn't appear as though he's reinventing the wheel diet-wise. Plus he was named one of the 25 fittest men in America by Men's Fitness magazine. He may be better able to dismiss some myths, whereas when women think about the body they'd love to have, I doubt Oprah is the first person that comes to mind.

c) Dedication. Oprah tried it and is non-commital about it in the end. This guy lives it, has for years, and has been succesful with it.

Unfortunately, the impact of these endorsements is difficult to evaluate. It's not like anyone keeps statistics about how many "converts" these two have created.

Either way, any contribution to changing perception that this is such an unusual way to live is appreciated. I actually believe that this is going to become more and more common in the future as more and more celebrities come out of the closet about this. Or pantry?

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