The Today show, America’s second most popular morning news show with more than four million viewers, spotlighted veganism today in a six-minute segment touting the health effects of plant-based eating. The program showcased diverse, appetizing meals (including anchorman Matt Lauer’s favorite dinner, a tofu-vegetable stir-fry), and featured an interview with hip-hop star-marker Russell Simmons. Though this segment is part of a summer series overviewing “popular diet trends,” anchorman Al Roker astutely pointed out that eschewing animal products “is not just a diet, but a way of life.” Roker and Simmons, a vegan of nearly 17 years and animal-rights activist, ate dinner at New York City vegan restaurant Red Bamboo and talked veganism over buffalo wings, jerk seitan, and ice cream. While Simmons spoke of his compassion for animals and his high energy levels, Roker exclaimed that his vegan dessert was “insane!” The show’s hosts, however, did not discuss animal-rights issues and focused on what vegans do not eat rather than what we do eat. Furthermore, Today nutritionist Joy Bauer exaggerated the “cons” of veganism by reporting that herbivores struggle with protein and B12 intakes and experience difficulty socializing with non-vegans. Anchorwoman Savannah Guthrie also made the comment that “if they could get bacon on a vegan diet, you (Roker) would be in.”
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