Ellen DeGeneres

Oprah Winfrey reinvented television, print media and the ways in which a human can embrace the ever-complex situation of… being human. It wasn’t easy; she was ridiculed and criticized, but her vision prevailed, whether we like it or not. She shared the O Magazine cover with Ellen DeGeneres in December 2009 (shared only with Michelle Obama before then), giving a not-so-subtle nod to the heir-apparent after Oprah’s final sign-off earlier this year. A rule breaker herself, Ellen created controversy when outing her character on Ellen in 1997. A long-time vegan, she’s been known to take a stand for animals, and the recent launch of her vegan blog offers a panoply of O-inspired ‘yes you can’ encouragement and enthusiasm. Much like Oprah’s bold moves, Ellen’s timing couldn’t be any better.

We’re a nation with addictions, obsessions and huge misconceptions about our food. Whether a vegan’s spiel makes you roll your eyes or not, the truth can’t be unlearned once you see how horribly animals suffer and die for food that’s largely to blame for the unhealthy state of our environment and our people.

So why has Ellen launched a vegan website now? Maybe it’s the senseless food poisoning deaths, or millions of children with diabetes and obesity. Maybe it’s the devastating toll factory farms have on the environment. Or, perhaps it’s because of the 10 billion plus animals killed for food just in the U.S. every year; and while there are some respectable organic farms that treat their animals fairly well, the overwhelming majority of these sentient creatures with personalities as unique and endearing as dogs or cats, live in unspeakable conditions. Dairy cows are constantly impregnated to produce milk, and the result—baby cows—are either killed or sent to veal farms; baby male chicks born on egg-laying farms are dropped—fully alive—into meat grinders; pigs—who are smarter (and cuter!) than dogs—are forced into stalls so small they cannot even turn around.  

Okay, so that’s a pretty grim picture… but there is an amazing, wonderfully vibrant side to the vegan life, as Ellen so eloquently highlights in her blog. (And just look at the woman! She’s 53 and could pass for 40.) Amazing foods, glowing skin, weight loss, increased energy… these are just some of the benefits she features and most any vegan will corroborate.

The human race has endured many great changes over time—especially with regard to what we eat. We’re lucky to find ourselves with helpful guides, like Ellen, in the transition to what appears to be an inevitable shift towards becoming a healthier and kinder species.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

image: ronpaulrevolt2008