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Carnivore To Herbivore: Veganism In The Media

Niki Hashemi |
April 13, 2014 | 2:06 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Media has the power to shift public opinion about veganism (@MindBodyGreen/Twitter).
Media has the power to shift public opinion about veganism (@MindBodyGreen/Twitter).
Technology has shaped the 21st century into an era where people around the globe can communicate with each other instantly. Information travels faster than it ever has before and social networks unify people in ways that were previously unimaginable. Due to the interconnected nature of technology, public opinion can easily be influenced with very few sources of input.

SEE ALSO: Carnivore To Herbivore: The Vegan Starter Kit

Not only does public opinion contribute to news and political media, food beliefs also play an important role. Currently, one million Americans are vegan and the number is steadily rising ever year. This rise can be attributed to increased positive media coverage of veganism. Additionally, more and more celebrities are supporting vegan diets.

Bill Clinton, one of the most popular political figures around the world has spoken about his lifestyle change from a meat lovers diet to a vegan diet. Clinton notes that the change was not as difficult as he initially intended. The hardest part for him was giving up yogurt and cheese because they are such staple foods. Since the beginning of his diet, he has lost more than 30 pounds and says he feels much more energetic. Clinton also shows that a vegan lifestyle does not have to be bland by demonstrating the types of foods he enjoys eating. He did an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta about his reasoning behind going vegan and how the lifestyle change has benefitted him in the long run.

Clinton is not the only positive media portrayal of veganism. In Feb. 2011, Oprah and 378 of her staffers took on a one-week vegan challenge, which inspired many fans to follow along. On the show, Oprah provided vegan recipes and health information to the general audience. She helped demystify the difficulty behind the vegan diet.

One of the best methods to encourage people to consider a vegan diet is to use comedic influence. Recently, late night comedy shows have been running more sketches about the health benefits of veganism. For example, Justin Timberlake and the "Saturday Night Live" cast performed a sketch called “Veganville” which is not only catchy, but also brings up health and ethical benefits of veganism and vegetarianism.

DISCLAIMER: “Veganville” contains some adult language and humor. Watch the video here.

Popular television shows like "Glee" also portray veganism in a positive light to the public. Rachel Barry is a strong female protagonist in the show and always chases after her dreams. Although she can be considered a little bit obsessive, she is an influential character who follows a vegan diet.

Although the media has recently been displaying veganism in a positive way, there are certain ideologies that are valued in the United States, which deters people from considering the lifestyle change.

Barbecuing meat, drinking quality beer and watching a football game are images that come to mind when thinking of an American weekend. Meat has been a delicacy in the United States for decades and has slowly engrained itself in American culture. As a result, it can be difficult to make the change to veganism because most people in the United States consume meat on a regular basis. There is a negative stigma associated with veganism because American culture is so reliant on meat as a predominant source of its diet and lifestyle.

Not only is this stigma causing people to look down on veganism, but negative media portrayals of veganism are also causing people to view veganism unfavorably. Shows like "The Simpsons" and "How I Met Your Mother" show veganism and vegetarianism as ridiculous diets that dissent against true American culture.

Since technology has advanced significantly in the past couple of decades, more media sources are becoming available for people from all walks of life. Other than being a form of entertainment, media can serve as a catalyst for introducing people to new topics in various ways. Positive media portrayals of veganism and vegetarianism encourage people to at least be conscious of their dietary choices on a daily basis. Although there is still some negative media attention on the lifestyle change, the overall image is becoming more positive over time.

Reach Staff Writer Niki Hashemi here and follow her on Twitter.



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