Have you gotten a lot more questions about vegan foods in your store these past few days? If so, you probably already know that Oprah and nearly 400 staffers pledged to go vegan for one full week: “That meant no meat, no fish, no milk, no eggs—nothing that comes from an animal—for seven full days,” stated the media queen’s website.
The episode aired this week (hence the increased interest levels). I could not find out specifically how Oprah did herself, but “by the end of the week, 300 of the 378 Harpo staffers who signed up successfully completed the challenge. Collectively, they lost 444 pounds and gained 84 pounds...and used a record amount of toilet paper,” the website said.
The vegan lifestyle is not easy (nor comfortable, apparently), and must be taken seriously. Followers need to make sure they eat a balanced diet that includes enough protein. Oprah was smart to include an online Vegan Starter Kit with plenty of advice and guidance.
One of the most common comments from Harpo staffers in the follow-up report that aired was that — besides the amazing weight loss — the week-long test made them think about what they actually eat. In many cases, that statement was followed by affirmations to watch what they put into their mouths a little more closely and to become more aware of their daily diets.
Vegan diets will get an additional boost this spring, with the release of a new film with the provocative title “Forks Over Knives.” The film posits that food is medicine, and should be used as such. Writer/director Lee Fulkerson crafted it as a documentary that puts the idea to the test, following a number of patients suffering from conditions ranging from heart disease to diabetes.
The principles outlined in the movie come courtesy of two doctors — T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist from Cornell University, and Caldwel Esselstyn, a former top surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. In fact, former president Bill Clinton says he’s alive today because of the duo’s vegetable-rich, heart-healthy lifestyle suggestions.
Approximately 1% of the U.S. population describe themselves as vegan. Based on the 2010 Census, that means there are about 3.8 million vegan consumers in the country. It's a large number and seems a bit overstated to me (though I have to note that nearly 21,000 people have “liked” Forks Over Knives on Facebook). But if we accept that there are 3.8 million vegans, one can only imagine all the others in the “in-between” stages — the meat reducers, semi-vegetarians and vegetarians.
That’s Oprah and her crew. That’s Bill Clinton. That’s me. That’s a number to reckon with.
[Photo credits: The Oprah Winfrey Show (top left); Monica Beach Media (bottom right)]