Oprah lit up the room last night with her Golden Globes Cecil B. DeMille award acceptance speech! There’s no question that she inspired everyone. Of course, this isn’t the first time she’s moved people with her activism.
In fact, throughout the years, Oprah has used her platform to advocate a vegan diet and highlight the horrors of the meat industry.
In 1996, during the height of the mad cow disease outbreak, Oprah invited Howard Lyman, a cattle rancher turned vegan, onto her show to discuss "rendering," the process of turning cow organs into feed for other cattle. The rancher’s story "stopped me cold from eating another hamburger," Oprah said.
For nearly two weeks after the episode aired, beef sales in the United States tanked, eventually reaching a 10-year low. In response, a group of cattle ranchers in Texas filed a $10.3 million lawsuit against Oprah, claiming she had defamed the industry. "Free speech not only lives, it rocks,” she exclaimed after the jury ruled in her favor. "I'm still off hamburgers,” she added.
In 2008, Oprah and her 378 staffers undertook a 21-day vegan challenge and featured their progress on her television show. During the challenge, Oprah welcomed vegan author Kathy Freston onto her show as well as famed vegan chef Tal Ronnen. Freston showed Oprah how to incorporate an assortment of delicious new vegan foods into her diet.
After the 21 days Oprah wrote in an essay:
I learned a lot about how animals are treated and mistreated before they get to our tables. It is appalling and beneath our humanity to allow the torture of animals for the sake of our gluttony. We’ve neglected basic human decency on such a large scale, and it really does bleed over into every other aspect of life.
Most recently, Oprah pledged to take part in Meatless Monday and urged her millions of followers to join her. In an interview with Wayne Pacelle, CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, she said, “We are in a moment where there is an awakening to a new way of bringing consciousness to how we treat animals around us.”
While we wish Oprah were vegan, it’s important to note just how much she’s done to publicize the benefits of veganism and draw attention to the plight of farmed animals. And who knows? Maybe one day Oprah will follow the lead of other inspiring figures, like Senator Cory Booker or Brooklyn’s borough president, Eric Adams, and go vegan.
Despite being just as smart and sensitive as the dogs and cats we adore at home, cows, pigs, and chickens raised and killed for food are subjected to unimaginable cruelties: extreme confinement, brutal mutilations, and violent deaths.