First, I think it is great that Cargill opened their slaughterhouse doors to allow viewers to see how the beef animals are processed. They showed the great system designed by Temple Grandin that keeps the animals calm as they walk through a snake-like shaped alley. This was graphic and the talk on twitter was that many people were turning vegan immediately. However, I’m sure a lot of them will get over the shock, realize that is how life is, and enjoy their hamburger tonight. Also, Timmerman Feedyard from LeSalle, Colorado, showed some great facts on why we feed cattle a concentrated diet of grains and forage and how long they are in the feedlot – around 200 days.
The quotes below were taken from the show and you can see my comments following.
“You shouldn’t be eating meat if you don’t know where it came from,” – Pollan
Pollan made this comment after watching the Cargill video. He tried to convince the audience that you have a moral obligation to know where your food comes from and you should think about the animal before considering eating meat.
“We are feeding animals grain that should be used to feed people.” – Pollan
In actuality, 99% of the corn that is raised in the U.S. is field corn – used to feed animals and make a renewable fuel, ethanol. The remaining 1% is sweet corn that people eat. Obviously, we are not feeding livestock corn that we would eat. Trust me – I’ve tried it and it’s chewy and not sweet! But the cattle love it! Otherwise they wouldn’t eat it either.
“I eat meat, just not industrialized or feedlot meat.” – Pollan
Pollan himself is not a vegan. He just doesn’t eat industrialized or feedlot meat. He did say that many producers today are raising their animals humanely and it’s ok to eat meat from them. I would say that all livestock producers I know are these people.
“Most all animals live a happy life and have one bad day.” – Pollan
This was the one (and maybe the first) statement that I agree with Pollan on. Animals raised for food are treated humanely – up to the point they are harvested – and Cargill proved this.
“People should think about the animal that had to die to provide that meat.” – Pollan
This sounds a little morbid, and really brings in the emotional part of animal agriculture. As Nicole from Cargill put it, “The animals are handled with dignity.”
“Cheap food is a blessing, but also a curse.” – Pollan
In terms of all of the processed food that is out there today, Pollan and Oprah analyzed that eating a more natural diet is healthier for you.
“We should definitely do Meatless Mondays, but those who want to eat meat can. Let’s not get sued for it!” – Oprah
This just cracked me up and I had to include it. Obviously, Oprah was very sensitive throughout the whole show and did not contribute much to the conversation.
Kathy Freston, a vegan celebrity, came on the show next and talked to many of the Harpo employees.
“Kathy Freston is not a nutritionist, just a vegan.” – Oprah
So why is she considered the “expert” in eating vegan – just because she is a celebrity?
“You have a choice in the food you buy.” –Oprah
Oprah made a point and I think didn’t even realize it – you have a choide in the food you buy because of modern agriculture providing safe and affordable food. You have the choice to buy organic or natural, but know it is a niche market and you are probably more willing to pay for it.
The best quote of the show:
“My family has a dairy, so going vegan affects our livelihood.” – Oprah’s senior supervising producer Jill VanLokeren (thanks for the update from my comments)
It was great that this specific audience member expressed the concern about how a vegan lifestyle affects her family’s livelihood. Kathy Freston later took her to Whole Foods to learn about food she could buy. She may change some of her eating habits, but she wanted them to know she was not going all vegan because of the dairy in her family.
I was most disappointed that they didn’t define that being vegan means more than not eating meat, cheese, milk or eggs. There are many products that you use that involve animal products – the rubber in your tires, detergents, adhesives, medicines, paint, dyes and more.
And lastly, this is what my dog, Hank, thinks of going vegan:
What was your take on the show?