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    Being A Vegan? Don't Ask Oprah

    Oh boy, another "vegan" challenge, but this time it wasn't from Peta or HSUS. It was from Oprah. At first, I thought maybe it would be a good discussion talking about the benefits of increasing the amount of fruits and veggies in your diet, but alas it was nothing of the sort. It was, once again a simplistic, emotional, appeal to not eat meat.

    Image from Mas-Luka on Flickr
    First, let me say that everyone I know involved in livestock production take excellent care of their animals and treat them like members of their own family. Folks like Mike Haley, Jeff Fowle, Ray Prock, and Chris Chinn provide the utmost care for their animals. As a matter of fact, I believe I can speak on their behalf that they feel it is a privilege to raise animals to provide the rest of us with food (and other items I will mention later).

    In case you missed it, Oprah challenged her staff and others to go "vegan." Well I am here to tell you that going vegan is much more complex than just not eating meat or food products from animal agriculture. 

    One thing I do believe is that we need to eat more fruits and vegetables, and bringing a spotlight on this issue is important to maintain a healthy balanced diet. And there are plenty of individuals and companies out there bringing this message to the consumer. I applaud this and hope it does, in fact, gain traction.

    I actually don't have any issue with people who prefer not to eat meat. It is entirely their choice and theirs alone. But the cognitive dissonance carried by many in the "vegan world" is almost as bad as the cognitive dissonance throughout our current political system. When did this become acceptable? Or worst, applauded.

    Let's take a step back and think about what it means to be a "vegan". Most people that I know who prescribe to the "vegan" way of life focus entirely on food consumption with the reasoning that we should not place animals in harms way to satisfy our need for meat, eggs, dairy, and the like. Fine by me, but there is one critical piece of the "vegan" puzzle that isn't included; the piece missing is all the other by-products that are generated with animal agriculture.
    Source: Minnesota Foundation For Responsible Animal Care, 2000
    Over 98% of the animal is used in one way or another, about 55% on average, for food consumption and 45% for inedible by-products. I would wager that at some point each of us have used a product that is derived from animal agriculture. Still think that you haven't or that animal agriculture isn't in your life? Well, how about bio-degradable plastics? Unlike synthetics, animal based products are biodegradable and break down naturally in the ecosystem. Protecting the environment anyone? Or how about rubber like that on your automobile tires? Sure would be hard to walk or ride a bike to work, especially if you lived in the Midwest yesterday. Do you use a printer at the office? Animal by-products are used to make circuit boards and ink toner. The list goes on and on. 

    At the end of the day, someone with the reach Oprah has can do the public and agriculture a service by bringing to light the benefits of a healthy diet. But what was purported on her show recently to go "vegan" only elevated what those of us in agriculture are only to familiar. Meat = Bad, Plants = Good. This is sad and way over-simplified. And as Sir Oliver Wendell Holmes aptly stated
    I wouldn't give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity; I would give my right arm for the simplicity on the far side of complexity.
    Indeed sir! So, Oprah if you really want to provide a valuable service to the public and your audience, how about you bring on experts in the field of animal agriculture and the folks who use animal by-products in the products they manufacture. Really focus on having an in-depth conversation so we can truly explore the issue. To do otherwise is a dis-service to you, your show, and the public. To me it just looked like you pigeon holed your audience into the same space that happens way to often; the simple space this side of complexity.

    Oprah, you can do better.


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    Agriculture passionado! I lead GeoVantage's Sales, Marketing, and Business Development activities. If you haven't explored the benefit of remote sensing for production agriculture, now is the time! Not one to rest, I am also a part of the Memes Associates team where we focus on assisting large companies in the agriculture space to "re-discover their inner entrepreneur" through the introduction of market disrupting technology(s) and services.  

    Have questions about agriculture and technology in agriculture? Ask away! 

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