Oprah says ‘yes’ to Meatless Mondays

By on August 23, 2016 with 24 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

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.

Join Oprah, take the Meatless Monday pledge »

Farm Animals

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Mary A. says:

    Fabulous. I am meatless every single day, and I have lost weight. Better yet, my heart and soul feel lighter knowing that I am helping to lessen suffering on this earth. While it takes a little planning, it is worth it, and very healthy. President Bill Clinton became vegan after his heart problems, and my guess is that he got the best health advice in the world.

    Thanks Oprah and Wayne!

  2. Mary A. says:

    P.S. Oprah, I am meatless on Weightwatchers!

  3. stewart says:

    Oprah , thank you for all of your humanity to other people in the US as well as people in other countries through the decades. I am very thankful that you have come forward about the horrific treatment of all animals. I have been aware of the brutality for over three years and it is very,very difficult to watch a video of animal cruelty. Each day of the week I sign petitions on their behalf with a very heavy heart.
    Once again many thanks for bringing the barbarism of helpless animals to the front and center. We can abstain from meat once a week for the greater good of their lives.

    • Dr. Chambreau says:

      Signing petitions is wonderful, Stewart. If you live with a beloved animal you can make an even bigger difference by stopping feeding processed “dog” or “cat” food. Buy local ingredients, especially those parts of the meat animals that people do not usually eat.

  4. Adrienne Bishop says:

    I watched the show on Sunday and enjoyed it immensely. It was a great way to get HSUS’s message out to an enormous audience. I am meatless everyday, but it is very inspiring to have Oprah make the challenge to her fans.
    Thanks so much to Oprah for being such a friend to all animals!

  5. Doug Beney says:

    Very nice! Surprised she got only a few hundred retweets for here 33 million following. Even her other posts are like that.

  6. karol wickert says:

    Why only Mondays?? After you are given knowledge of the suffering of animals And your body, I would think its a no-brainer.
    I dont get people. 🙁

    • Marianne says:

      I don’t get people either, we have to power to stop animal suffering completely and we only start with skipping meat on Mondays. What about as much days as possible and what about calves who have to be born and slaughtered for the milk industry. Once you know, you know there is no turning back to that choice!

  7. Norma Gonzalez says:

    I became a Vegan 9 months ago and feel so much happier and healthier inside to know that making better choices in my everyday life is having an effect for something good is an amazing feeling my family and I both try and educate our family and friends to go meatless. Thank you both Oprah and Wayne for inspiring more people to make that change and by that one choice that can make a big difference!

  8. Christina Ross says:

    Love the content etc however I have a little reaction to advertising Burger foods on this show ha ha ha

  9. Paul says:

    Well, this is awesome. How about going meatless everyday and not only meatless but also milk-less, cheese-less, fur-less, circus-less, zoo-less, leather-less? That would make a difference and prove we see animals as our fellow friends, not products.

    • Esje says:


  10. Louise mollit says:

    Why always exclude the ” absent referents” that’s is,the human slaves work in in breeding barns,n slaughterhouse workers,this includes Canadian unpaid slaves like children n wives,govt official,they all own shares like Hillary,make sure children are exempt from protection in agriculture work,so agriculture can force children to operate dangerous machinery,drive trucks,use guns,torture n rape animals thru artificially insemination,etc etc,all extreme torture for the child,causing perpetrators induced stress disorder,as real as the war or police veterans,which drives the huge problem of 10 yr old drug addicts,including alcohol,in rural areas,I had the misfortune to have living experience w this,look up child labor laws for agriculture you will not believe,the reason is govt officials own shares in these operation,say no to the traditional use of African slavery in worldwide slaughterhouses,plus govt. Are sending single mothers to dangeroys traumatic work there,what happens when she gets injured or killed .just more riches for adoption businesses,speak out for all farm n slaughterhouse workers,repeal laws allowing exemption of protection of children slaves,in Canadian n usa agriculture

    • Claudette says:

      Human slaves that chose to work in slaughterhouses?? Are you kidding? And I live in Canada and would sure like to know of child slaves that work in slaughterhouses and use guns? You have living experience with this and you didn’t do anything about it? What?

  11. Louise mollot says:

    Repeal laws allowing the unpaid labor of children wives n of targeting Africans war refugees n single mothers ,repeal laws exempting agriculture from full child labor laws

  12. Louise mollot says:

    Grainery growers are fueling all animal industries,animals are referred to as ” grain consuming units” ,grain growers have been overproducing for centuries now,hence the invention. Of hard liquor to use up the excess grain,Pierre trudeau revealed this when he announced” why should I go to China to sell Canadian grain,
    Farmers will just have to adjust production ” well,he never got ‘re elected after that,don’t mess with big agriculture,they don’t always leave the farm to their children either,nor do they always use their profits to ” just feeding my family”. Nor to send children to college,,ask any farmers wife or child,these are mantras farmers use to force the public to buy their overproduction,otherwise they threaten to burn their barn,n all the animals burn alive,so can get insurance,while driving prices back up ,business as usual…

  13. Scarlett Damen says:

    Meatless Monday’s is a quick fix! I’m for ‘Go vegan’.
    we need to really open our eyes and learn about the health and environmental impacts eating meat has on our lives and the planet. Watch Earthlings and Food Inc and The Story Of Stuff. If we want to do anything about global warming, the obesity epidemic or the unspeakable torture and suffering of all meat and dairy animals we each need to learn. Once you educate your self there is no going back. Choose life Go vegan! ?

  14. Bonnie MacEvoy MD MPH says:

    The use of these words comes from viewing our species as the “pinnacle” and master of all on this planet. That is a species-centric religious view of humans on this planet that is not sustainable.

    Think of the words he uses: conscience, impact, aware, power, rights, dominion, kindness. All words he chooses and defines the limits himself within his zones of behavior.

    Oprah says, “I don’t have to become a vegan tomorrow … I can just be kind, merciful, and humane…” [and get to define those words in the process]… In other words, don’t make me inconvenience myself or suffer in any way by denying myself what I want for me. Come on, Oprah.

    “Meatless Monday”? That to me is like saying “Let’s have a Beatless Monday when you don’t beat your wife/kid/pet/slave”. [or other thing you claim to have dominion over] You don’t get to feel merciful and humane because you treat animals with concern 15% of the time and kill/torture/confine/consume the rest of the time. In fact, it is even worse, because you recognize it is a problem, but not enough for you to commit to it as a way of life rather than a random holiday you can brag about.

    “We are not equals, but equal in our suffering”. Who says we are not equals? We are the only species killing and extinguishing life on this planet, mostly because of our attitude that it all “belongs” to us. Pascal’s Wager is often used in religious arguments that you ought to believe in God and hell because if you are wrong, then oh well, no harm. But if you don’t believe and you are wrong, eternal damnation! What if we are wrong about animals and they DO feel/love/suffer/emote and have a conscious awareness on a par with ours? Have we then been good “stewards” of the earth? Do we treat humans with low IQ poorly because they are not aware? Species specific respect and kindness is as cruel as none at all.

    Mechanical things we can do – does that really make us special? Only based on values described by the human creatures that are promoted. Conflict of interest. I’m not so sure what we do as humans in the world is so special – pollution, genocide, torture, war, greed, cruelty, overpopulation, disregard for Nature, and on and on.

    We left the tribal view of creatures and Nature because it is not consistent with profits and corporate interests.

    And the cruelty issue only touches on the problems with consuming, exploiting, being cruel to and enslavement of creatures. Two equally concerning issues are 1) the huge problem of pollution from mass factory farming: wider growth of grains as feed for animals which will end up feeding many fewer people than the grain directly to people would have fed, manure runoff, methane pollution, and other issues that promote faster/bigger/”better” growth such as hormones, antibiotics and biogenetics; and 2) the worrisome health effects from a meat-based diet (obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high-lipids, cancer, and others).

    This convenient blindness that humans have – that it is OK to rescue a dog and then eat thousands of creatures slaughtered, hidden away to make it easy – is self-serving and illogical. But don’t get me started.

  15. Anne R. says:

    Thank you, Wayne, for being a sane advocate for animals. Many of us are not vegan and believe that veganism isn’t natural and that if we stopped eating animals those animals would be eradicated as pests, whereas humane farming can mean they have a decent life while they’re alive and can live to adulthood or beyond. I believe in eating less meat because it isn’t necessary to eat meat every day and production of meat is energy intensive, so that is why I am frequently meatless on Mondays as well as other days of the week. In fact many animals are being killed by climate change, examples are corals, reindeer and polar bears. I would like to see the Humane Society address climate change, although I realize there’s only so much you can do.

    • Mary A. says:

      All that is natural is not necessarily good for us (think Poison Ivy). Also, in life, we tell ourselves many things to justify what we do, but this does not make them either true or good. Although I can’t speak for children, adults do not need to eat meat I haven’t eaten meat, fish or poultry in years and I feel great that way. I saw Wayne Pacelle at an event, and he looked extremely healthy and said that he has been vegan for decades. Eating meat seems unnatural. I can’t imagine chopping off a chicken’s head. It seems barbaric. And to raise something, and to see it grow from a baby animal to an adult, and then to slaughter it, well that seems like the least natural thing that I can think of.

      No doubt nature and the wild can seem exceedingly cruel, as bad as livestock farming. But a lion eats meat, and that seems to be it . Fortunately, humans have a choice not to do so, and we can live just fine. But I agree with you on climate change. And I am so glad that you are thinking about things, even if I disagree with you. And again, thanks to Oprah and Wayne.

  16. Dr. Chambreau says:

    Wayne, I was very touched by your interview with Oprah and quotes read from your book. As a homeopathic veterinarian and speaker for over 30 years, my mission is to empower people to heal themselves and their animals in ways that heal the planet. I think the most important key is respect and responsibility. Think about each choice you make. For some that is being vegan, for some meatless Monday, or non production farmed meat. I agree with Anne R. that you addressed these issues very well.

    I want to add that people living with animals can make a huge impact on their health and that of the planet by choosing holistic healing approaches. If you can learn Reiki (one time class) it may replace antibiotics and other drugs that are harming the life on our planet. If you choose to feed your animals and yourself from local farms (as you discussed in the talk), you put pressure on chemical farming by saying no to GMO, no to glyphosate and other chemicals. Using acupressure, Healing touch for animals, tellingtonTtouch, take nothing from the planet or animals and other holistic approaches do little damage compared to conventional approaches.

  17. Kelly Robinson says:

    I live very close to animals living their natural lives out in the wild and it has been a real eye opener for me. I can see that they plan ahead, they stockpile food, they build homes, they teach their young, they nurture and protect their young, and most of all they all want to live, even the tiny little earthworm that leaps out of an overwatered planter, wants to live.

    Thank you for the discussion. How we can eat pigs at all and not our own pets is a very important question. Pigs are considerably smarter and more sensitive. It is agony how the females are treated and the pain that is forced upon them by men. Just like God thought he had made a huge mistake when he created man (and then wiped everyone out except for Noah and the Ark), God giving men dominion over women and animals is arguably another mistake if you can even believe any of that.

    And then there is the whole methane problem and all the smoke from fast food restaurants and how that is accelerating the destruction of the planet. Please talk about how Congress should stop funding animal agriculture. It is responsible for so much pollution and antibiotic resistance and even poisons in our food from all the drugs that are excreted and sold as fertilizer. It is endless how bad it is, and we should not have our tax money used for any of it.

  18. Andrea Gipson says:

    Absolutely Beautiful. Noone can be perfect, however, all we have to do is accept the reality of how our planet is changing and come to the realization that eating animals is not only unnecessary for our livelihood but is absolutely endangering the existence of all living beings in the future. If you truly love animals……stop eating them. All Lives Matter.

  19. Julie Johnson says:

    Meatless Mondays and any other opportunity to stop eating flesh is wonderful. Take the time to realize that the package of meat was once a beautiful creature that suffered at the hands of humans who as a supposedly superior species should be caretakers for all other life forms on this planet. Eating flesh is nothing more than one more form of greed.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.