Is this a great print or what? Based on the Keep Calm and Carry On poster phenomenon, this parody made me smile and well, resolve to keep my vegan chin up. Timely too, given the recent Oprah debacle, although I'm starting to think a bit differently about the show too. Oh sure, I'm still annoyed and think the many criticisms raised absolutely valid, but I'm chilling out somewhat. Bea, of Provoked, did a wonderful job of gathering reactions, and reading through the original posts I came across some interesting viewpoints.
Vegan Machine's review was probably the most positive of the bunch, and while I didn't agree with all of her observations, I was glad of the mathematical reminder of how many animals were spared that week. And I found some of the comments in Dreena Burton's post quite fascinating. Consider the following by a nonvegan poster:
For people (like me!), the vegan life seems radical, difficult to sustain and dare I say weird. I would have never considered trying it until watching her episode. I'm not certain it's a lifestyle choice I could make, but it got my wheels turning... You have to remember the audience, I think. Majority of those watching having, like me, don't understand it. The show made it seem more attainable... You have people thinking about who otherwise wouldn't be. That' a success.
It made me wonder what other nonvegans thought of the show, and how many of them were inspired to think of veganism differently. It would also be interesting to know how many vegan starter kits were ordered from Oprah's site, or how many clicks there were on the various information links (like the Going Vegan FAQs answered by Dr. Neal Barnard) and vegan menu plans. And what about this last comment?
Well, as someone who watched the show as a certified meat eater I can happily tell you that I went completely vegan on 2/6 after reading most of Kathy Freston's book. I have attempted the vegetarian/vegan conversion intermittently over the past 15 years, but her approach really won me over... The bottom line is that if this gentler approach can get more people on board with a plant based diet then ultimately everyone wins. You really do not win people over to your point of view when you take an antagonistic, I hate to say it this way, but " I'm more evolved than you " attitude because people automatically leap to defend their position no matter how misguided... Just a few thoughts from someone who was affected enough by the not so pc vegan presentation to change her dietary choices.
Bingo! I call that a good result. Apparently, Kathy Freston's Veganist shot to the top of the Amazon list February 1, and is still the #1 book in the Cooking category. Not bad. Her book will fill in the gaps and present the ethics, health and environmental benefits of veganism as well. And what about the term veganish that I wasn't particularly enamoured of? I like This Vegan Life's take on it, and am thinking that if we really want a vegan world then perhaps having people who are becoming veganer, veganish, and veganist is at least a start. Language both reflects and shapes societal attitudes, and the more terms that contain the word vegan as a positive root, the better.
The Vegan Soapbox also reinforced my "well, maybe it wasn't a complete waste of time" reflection, so maybe we can put this episode behind us (or demand a follow-up show where Oprah acknowledges the error of her outrageous retort), and be glad of the opportunity to have more vegan newbies (and curious bystanders) on board. We can answer their questions without being interrupted by commercials or obnoxious meat-endorsing guests, come up with brilliant rebuttals, and offer suggestions and support.
So next time we hear a celebrity say something incredibly stupid about our cause, let's remember to: a) let them know how they're wrong, and b) keep calm and vegan on! ;)