I may have been one of the few people who was extremely excited to watch a new show called The Chew since the show basically took the place of a much beloved soap opera – All My Children. So, the show had an uphill battle before it to grab the love and attention of those loyal viewers or at least try to use the fan base each host carried with them.
My excitement came due to Mario Batali who was one of THE big reasons why I watched Food Network. Though these days, it takes a great deal to get me to view anything on that channel. I loved Carla Hall from Top Chef (a staple on my food show viewing shelf) where she always had such cute and quirky little comments about the happenings in the kitchen. Then there’s Daphne Oz. The graduate of The Institute for Integrative Medicine and The Natural Gourmet Institute. The daughter of the Oprah given title – America’s Doctor – Dr. Oz. I have loved Dr. Oz from the moment he stepped on Oprah’s stage on her now long over self-titled show. Dr. Oz brought a breathe of fresh air and great knowledge to the world by letting in the rest of the world to the wonders of what everyone calls ‘alternative medicine’. He echoed subjects I knew and schooled me on others I did not know. Dr. Oz constantly referred to his wife, Liza Oz, who he credits with educating him on all things not mainstream. So when I heard Daphne Oz would be on this new show, I thought about how wonderful that finally someone on mainstream television would be in full support of vegans and vegetarians. Someone would dispense knowledge to those who think they know the veg world.
Well, that has not happened at all. As a matter of fact, on an almost daily basis that the show airs, there is always a jab at those of us (vegans) who are growing in masses every year as one celebrity after another discovers the benefits of a plant-based diet. Now, the premise of the show is food. Plain and simple. They call themselves experts on food, yet once again alienates a growing market of foodies that love to eat sinfully delicious food without animals and animal by-products. They present their audience with dishes from all over the world. As well as take the viewers into different events, establishments, and food occupations for the audience to get an inside view. Yet fail to attempt to invite vegan cookbook authors and chefs to the show. Nor have they gone to any vegan establishments to see how artisanal vegan cheeses are made. Or what dishes vegan restaurants serve and have on their extensive menu. What about tasting some vegan eats at the beginning of the show during their announcement/news segment? Why are they afraid of tofu? Why not show all the innovation in vegan cuisine.
Still, I continued to watch hoping one day something anything would open them to expanding their knowledge. Then on the June 8 episode of The Chew, one of the Hosts starts a discussion. “The New York Post reported how many veggie burgers contain more salt, calories, and saturated fat than a fast food hamburger and that even though they do not contain meat, they do contain a lot of other ingredients to make them taste good”. He went on to ask the other hosts what were their thoughts. Of course, Michael Symon chimes in with “I believe it.” With Daphne Oz going straight for the potato chip eating vegan by saying, “This is to me when people decide to go vegan and then live on like chips. It is vegan technically but it’s not something that’s health supportive. There are veggie burgers out there that are made with whole ingredients and I love some of them but I think some of them are made from texturized wheat gluten, and like a variety of processed ingredients and you know oil and things and there’s added salt that absolutely are less good for the body than having a real…. She was then talked over and cut off by a couple of other Hosts, one of them being Michael Simon, the residence hater (seems like it) of vegans says, “Right Daph, I know we joke about it but these are heavily processed.” Daphne continues on with, ” Heavily processed. The thing I always think about is, what’s the ingredient your body is going to recognize most? And as humans we’ve been eating meat for a long time, so if you’re, it’s a matter of having a smaller portion of high quality meat versus a big portion of really heavily processed mechanized food, I’d probably go for the real option.”
When I heard that, I had to rewind, record, and replay what I had just heard. I became so upset and frustrated that it brought me to tears. I immediately, through tears, began my search for said article from the New York Post. The only article I found that came close was an article entitled “These Veggie Burgers are Worst For You Than a Big Mac” which the information in the article was pretty close to the topic introduced on the show. I honestly, for their sake, hope that there was another article because if not, then the audience was mislead. Because the way it comes off from the Hosts is that the frozen veggie burgers in supermarkets and grocery stores across the country contain more sodium, calories, and saturated fat than a fast food hamburger. The article I found compared veggie burgers from other fast food establishments. These are places that vegans would not visit nor eat due to what is in and on the burgers. Here’s a perfect opportunity for them to try vegan burgers from Gardein, Field Roast, and Beyond Meat as a start on the road to being more open minded.
That little part of the show hurt deeply because the one person on that show that could offer something positive did nothing more than take the knife, shove it in further, and light a match to set us on fire. I became angry in addition to the hurt. I thought about going on twitter and blasting them all, yet I did not. Instead, I chose to meditate on everything from that part of the episode to decide what my next course of action would be. I did not want to come off as the angry vegan nor did I want my silence be an indicator that it was okay. I thought about speaking on the preparations of their recipes, yet I did not see the point in playing tit for tat. All I could think was ‘What are they and other hosts afraid of? Would it be so bad to step out of their comfort zone?
Here’s the thing, vegans/vegetarians are adventurous foodies who love to eat dishes that are pleasing to the eye as well as to the palate. We love burgers, hotdogs, fries, chips, and mac n cheese. As well as a beautiful salad, hardy soups, creamy risotto, steaks made of plant-based ingredients, tofu scrambles, and sautéed dark leafy greens. We love rich desserts of cheesecake, hey, all cakes, ice cream, and truffles. We love to entertain sharing our vegan spirits and wines with our love ones. For us, veganism is not just about the food, it is a full lifestyle where we consider everything. The products we use on our skin, the products and medications we put into our bodies, as well as the clothing, furniture, you name it that we use, period. It is everything. Some of us are vegan for health reasons because it is truly a matter of life or death. It would be nice if the Hosts of The Chew could understand that and stop making jokes. We have food memories that we cherish as well and do our best to recreate them without animals and animal by-products. Maybe the hosts should spend a day in our shoes, having to shop in stores and eat in restaurants that does not have enough of a choice at reasonable prices. I would love for the Hosts or at least one of the Hosts to go out on assignment to restaurants and try to get something vegan. To see what it is like to be in the minority when it comes to eating in most common places like movie theatres, theme parks, restaurants, and a friend/family member’s home. Maybe one day the dream of a mainstream television host/hosts considering those who consume meals differently from the majority will bring about a change in the way the world views veganism.