Arguably, no other animal advocate has the platform, the followers, and the influence of Oprah Winfrey. I was on her widely syndicated talk show years ago to speak on puppy mills and then again about Proposition 2 in California. But this past Sunday, it was a special privilege to appear on “Super Soul Sunday” to talk about my new book, The Humane Economy, and about our spiritual relationship with animals.
Among the wide range of subjects we covered, Oprah asked what small things people can do in their lives to have a big impact for animals. I suggested that one easy, high-impact action would be to join our Meatless Mondays campaign.
Right after the show ended, Oprah tweeted the following to her 33.5 million Twitter followers, “.@waynepacelle That I can do. Have ‘Meatless’ Mondays! Who will join me? #SuperSoulSunday”
It is especially significant to get this pledge from one of the most admired and respected people in our culture.
Twenty years ago, when Oprah publicly stated that she was swearing off hamburgers, the meat industry sued her — the pledge had caused beef futures to plummet. She won the case, and famously said “Free speech rocks. She also triumphantly proclaimed, “I’m still off hamburgers!”
There are so many choices we face that affect animals, but no choice is more influential or ever-present as our food selections. The vast majority of animals used in our society are raised on factory farms, which is one reason I’ve put farm animal protection issues at the center of HSUS activities since I assumed my role as CEO 12 years ago.
Our metric here is forward progress – you don’t have to be perfect to join us and to help animals. Reduce, refine, replace – those are the options we suggest. Every little thing you do matters. Just do something, as I suggested recently on Alternet.
Led by The HSUS’s dynamic Kristie Middleton, our team of meat reduction specialists travel the nation, helping big food buyers use less meat and promote more plant-based eating – often under the banner of Meatless Mondays. Some of the institutions we’ve worked with serve tens of thousands—or hundreds of thousands—of meals a day. When Detroit Public Schools (45,000 meals daily) and Los Angeles Unified School District (700,000 meals daily) joined our campaign, they saved lives and showed how easy it is to integrate more plant-based foods into our diets.
In addition to the Meatless Mondays policies we’re implementing, The HSUS’s Chef Wanda White is also conducting regular culinary trainings at schools and hospitals around the nation, showing institutional chefs just how easy and fun it is to cook delicious plant-based meals for their guests. Millions of animals have been spared the misery of factory farms in the United States as a result of HSUS programs encouraging consumers to make more conscious decisions when it comes to their food.
Now, with Oprah at our side encouraging her millions of fans to enjoy more plant-based meals, there’s no telling how much stronger our movement will be. Animals are so fortunate to have such a powerful voice advocating on their behalf.