Open letter to the Food Network:
I like watching the chef challenges on Bravo and the Food Network. The shows where cooks of all types pit their skills against each other and ultimately one wins out. I consumed the last several episodes of “The Next Food Network Star” last year, and saw the last episode, where the winner was announced.
I watch these shows because of the personalities and only occasionally because of the food.
After watching that final episode, I went online to look up when the new show would air, with the winner as host. While I was looking at the schedule I thought, for the heck of it, let’s see what else is on that channel that I might not have seen.
I counted 62 shows that appear to be all “how to” recipe shows. Many chefs host more than one show. When I hunted for recipes on the Food Network site, I found several that were listed as “vegetarian” and all of 11 tagged as “vegan”, one of which actually isn’t vegan; it just happened to star on a show that featured some vegan recipes.
It strikes me that there is room on this network for one, just one, vegan chef. If you take a look at the wealth of amazing cookbooks out there now that are entirely vegan, you’ll surely be able to find a chef or two with the personality and desire to host a show.
Why would you do this?
Most importantly for a network like yours, for people’s health. There are some idiotic articles on your website on “how to be vegetarian and stay healthy” (assuming all meat eaters are healthy??). Many of the episodes by various chefs that feature vegetarian food start out by saying “vegetarian food doesn’t have to be boring”. These statements reveal your prejudices and, more importantly, your ignorance.
Study after study shows that statistically vegans are healthier than omnivores. Let’s not belabor it. It’s not up for debate. So why do we keep seeing these misleading articles and hear this misinformation on your network? I assume it’s because so many people still believe the myths that vegetarian food is boring and tastes like cardboard, that it’s hard to “get enough protein” on a vegan diet, and so on.
Frankly, if this is the case, if your chefs keep repeating untruths because that’s what your viewers believe, then all you are doing is perpetuating these myths. How about stepping out in front and offering something bordering on reality instead?
If it’s too scary to start right out with a vegan chef (if the marketing department won’t go for it), then have one of your chefs interview several vegan chefs (preferably do a small series of interviews) and see how the viewers react. Take it from there.