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How celebrities are using their influence to change food choices

Oprah and Dr. Oz join Ellen DeGeneres in encouraging their millions of fans to go plant-based. Today’s blog details how agriculture can best respond.

Amanda Radke

October 22, 2019

6 Min Read
Oz columns.jpg

An “influencer” is defined as a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.

Today, anybody can be an influencer. Simply go online and talk about your favorite companies and how they impact your everyday life. Get good enough at it, and you might even make a little bit of money at it.

Beyond your average social media influencer, celebrities have capitalized on this new phenomenon. Extending their earning potential far beyond their work in Hollywood, celebrities endorse a wide range of products from teas to subscription beauty boxes to waist trainers and so much more.

These sponsored posts earn them cash because companies know that a simple endorsement from one of these major players will result in serious sales. Kylie Jenner, a celebrity reality TV show personality and makeup mogul billionaire, reportedly earns $1.2 million for a single Instagram post! Talk about being influential in the marketing game!

While I could certainly dive into the pros and cons of social media as a marketing tool and the subsequent ethical questions that arise when these platforms blur the lines between social networking and grassroots marketing. Today I want to address the elephant in the room — how celebrities are trying to influence everything from presidential elections to food choices.

Surely, you’ve seen it. The 2016 U.S. Presidential election is a great example with countless celebrities endorsing their favorite candidate, speaking at their campaign rallies, encouraging their fans to register to vote and telling them who to vote for while they’re at it.

But, Amanda — this is how politics work. We campaign for who we like, and celebrities are no different! We all have the right to voice our opinions online!

True, but because of their massive platform based on their popularity derived from a move or television show that they starred in, they have massive influence on fans. Wouldn't it be great if they heard animal agriculture's side of the story before they created new content for their platforms?

But, Amanda — do people really care what celebrities think? Well, if sales following their sponsored posts are of any indication, the answer is yes. Some people absolutely do care what Jennifer Aniston eats for supper or which type of yoga is Gwyneth Paltrow’s favorite.

With millions of followers, the latest trend in celebrity influencers is trying to drive consumer habits by changing people’s dietary choices. And of course, the recommendations lean heavily toward a plant-based diet.

While their intentions may be great, the information they are basing these food choices on is not factual. We know this, but their fans do not.

We saw this play out with Ellen DeGeneres’ video encouraging people to, “Be neat, eat less meat.”

In response, I penned an open letter that went viral and reached millions of people. Through this letter, I dispelled some myths and asked Ellen to allow me the opportunity to be on her show and talk about beef production.

No, Ellen hasn't called, but I'm still counting it as a win because millions of people saw the message I was trying to share, even if it wasn't on her TV show.

Anyway, lest I become a celebrity chaser, I want to pass the baton to other advocates and ask for your help in reaching out to these latest celebrity influencers who are encouraging us to forego meat for our health and for the planet.

In a recent segment that pained me to watch, Oprah interviewed environmentalist Suzy Cameron Amis, author of “The OMD Plan.” In the interview, Amis encourages folks to make at least one meal per day plant-based, and Oprah says it sounds like a fun challenge and invites her 42.6 million followers to do the same.

Amis declares by simply skipping meat for one meal each day, we’ll conserve 200,000 gallons of water and eliminate the carbon equivalent of one road trip from Los Angeles to New York.

Shocked? I was! Yes, she actually said that and believes that. We’ve sure got our work cut out for us, folks, if we are to combat this onslaught of misinformation in the media!

Watch a clip of the interview here.

Then there’s celebrity TV show host, Dr. Oz, whose syndicated column reached a small town in rural South Dakota. I had a friend mail me a copy of his column, titled, “Getting to the meat of the matter on meat.”

In this column, Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen, hold nothing back and encourage people to eliminate animal fats and proteins from their diets as much as they can.

They write, “The straight advice: Ditch red and processed meat. That’s the healthy action that helps eliminate life-damaging inflammation and plaque-filled arteries, and lowers your risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, digestive woes, dementia and a lousy sex life.

“Don’t make yourself crazy over it. You can remove red and processed meats from your diet in steps and reap great benefit. A study out of the University of Nottingham found that if you cut your red meat consumption in half over 12 weeks, you can see a significant drop (10% on average) in your artery-clogging, stroke-inducing LDL cholesterol level.”

Read the entire damaging article here.

I need your help here, everyone! Imagine if every single BEEF Daily reader reached out to these celebrities on social media! That would surely get their attention and perhaps it might make them think twice about the propaganda they are reading online and the advice they are doling out to their fans!

If you are going to engage, please be thoughtful, kind and factual. So many times I see folks speaking out but doing so with anger, name-calling and other nastiness. This does nothing for us, so if you get frustrated and feel like lashing out, I must stress — walk away from the computer, take a deep breath and choose to engage at another time! Better yet, don’t engage the folks and simply talk to the millions of fans that these celebrities have. They genuinely want to know more about where their food comes from, so they can make informed choices. Unfortunately, the information that is out there is faulty and dangerous, so we must work to share the correct data for people to consider!

These celebrities have incredible influential power! Even though we do not, if we collectively speak out, perhaps one of our messages will go “viral” and reach the consumers we are aiming to connect with. Let’s go!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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