by Michael dEstries
Categories: Eats, Film/TV.

Of the almost 150 television shows listed as airing on “The Food Network” and its new sister “The Cooking Channel”, not one is dedicated exclusively to the vegan and/or vegetarian lifestyle. Let that digest for a moment — all the while contemplating such oversight in favor of shows like What Would Brian Boitano Make? (No offense to those that are actually curious regarding this question.)

Of course, I’m not the first person to point out such a mind-numbing gap in veg-related programming. Over the years, there have been petitions, blog entries, Yahoo Answers appeals, and direct pleas asking to give such a show a shot on the network. And that was all before FN decided to expand their offerings with a whole new channel! And yet still, the cold shoulder to vegetarians and vegans.

Over at Vegan Soap Box, this very question was asked last year, and one commenter claiming to be on the inside offered some insight. “The network is catering to “Foodies”, people who are food enthusiasts and will eat anything just to try it! This concept doesn’t apply to Vegans or Vegetarians who limit their diets based on whatever criteria they have chosen (ethics, health, etc). People don’t really watch the food network to learn how to cook, they watch it to see people cook and eat.”

The commenter also mentioned that the network carries a large male demographic; hence the abundance of BBQ series. But it seems to me that it’s really the executives and producers who seem to be skimming over the VEG scene without really seeing how damn delicious and extensive this side of cooking can be. I’m not alone in thinking that one program (out of the more than 100 currently present) dedicated to the green side of the plate would carry a huge following. And if it’s true that people just tune in to watch others cook and eat, why would they believe that something either vegetarian or vegan would not be appealing? It reasons that if that’s one of the factors acting as a roadblock to getting such a show on the air, then FN is just perpetuating the myth that veg/vegan grub is unappetizing. Seriously?

There’s no reason why a veg-related show could not be as entertaining — and feature a fun, engaging host — as all of the others on the Food Network and Cooking Channel. Sure, some people might not tune in because they’ve already made up their minds on anything lacking meat as “rabbit food”, but there are probably even more out there that would be pleasantly surprised at just how easy — and delicious — going veg in the kitchen can be. For a network that prides itself on being “committed to exploring new and different ways to approach food”, isn’t it time to own up to that statement and show viewers a greener side of the menu?

Some Suggestions:

“VEG and the City”
Sure, the title is awful — but the idea is to have a host visit cities around the U.S. and take in the delicious food offered by their local VEG cafes and eateries. If people like to watch others eat (while getting a glimpse of each city’s culture), this would be an easy sell.

“Side of Meat”
If you’re looking to appeal to the masses, why not have a show where meat and veggies have a role-reversal. Focus on main dishes that are vegetarian/vegan friendly — while offering up the options of a small sidedish of fish or meat that goes well with the meal. Either way, it allows people a nice choice — and might be a good compromise for those looking to cut back on eating meat, while increasing their intake of fresh veggies.

“V-licious!”
Grab a personable chef who loves to cook vegan and vegetarian dishes, throw them in the kitchen, and let the cameras roll. Have celebrity guests or other notables stop by from time to time. We’re pretty sure Alicia Silverstone would be game. (This idea is easy, I realize. So why aren’t you doing it?)

“Leafy Green Cook With A Book”
There are more 1,700 vegetarian-related cookbooks on Amazon. There are over 800 vegan. How about a series where a chef chooses one (or two) recipes from various veg cookbooks and then shows the audience just how easy it is to whip it all up? Authors would love the exposure and you could even sell the books via your website.

Anyways, Food Network, we would love to hear from you. Perhaps you’ve already got something cooking behind the scenes — or want a little more advice. We’re sure our commenters below would love to offer it. But feel free to also send me an email at michael “at” ecorazzi.com.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • http://www.theadirondackchick.com/ Michelle

    I volunteer to host or produce ‘Veg and the City’ or ‘Side of Meat’! I’m a vegetarian but cook dishes for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters all the time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ayinde-Howell/501739483 Ayinde Howell

      Hello Ecorazzi

      I am going to say the samething i said on my facebook page; I am officially launching a campaign for Ayinde’s own i Eat Grass Cooking show. Please Tell the Cooking channel, IEG needs a TV show we can do this two ways by hitting the “like” button on top of the page and suggesting it to all you friends. and write, bob tuschman – general manager Food Network 75 Ninth Avenue NY NY 10011 and tell em how you feel. please use recycled paper. I need your support America!

  • Dan

    I don’t know if that insider really is anyone inside, but that logic is flawed. In my experiences, vegetarians and vegans are USUALLY foodies by default. We spend so much time and effort thinking about what we put into our stomachs and why – much more than your average person who will pretty much just eat whatever.

    Food matters to us. When I travel (which I do a lot), the stuff I’m researching before I go isn’t all of the big name tourist traps, it’s the vegan restaurants to check out (both because I like to make sure I’m covered food-wise and also because I just plain old love delicious vegan food). And my household (girlfriend and I) has about 20 vegan cookbooks. We realize we’ve limited the stuff that we’ll eat, but we still want to have tons of options and we won’t settle for tasteless boring food. Again, because food is important to us. We made a life decision around what food we’ll eat. How could you be MORE into food than that?

    I would love for a veg(etari)an show on Food Network. But I guess for now, we’ll have to settle for a vegan cupcake winner and a vegetarian iron chef battle. And actually, once I saw a Dinner Impossible episode where the guy had to use all vegan ingredients… but he complained about it the entire time.

  • Alison

    Let me help answer this for you: the Food Network is deep in the pockets of the meat and dairy industries. Do you think they pay for all the food they use on their shows? I highly doubt it. The industries know how to sell meat and dairy and spend millions and millions each year on it…the Food Network is prime product placement, all day, every day.

    I’d bet everything I own that the Food Network has considered a vegetarian show (baby steps, there’s no way they’d do vegan for a long time) considering its prevalence in our modern culture, but that the meat industry has fought tooth and nail against it, threatening to withdraw what I guess is hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in food products they underwrite.

    • tatttt2

      Alison! you are dead on!

    • Missy

      I agree with this, just never thought about it till now. Excellent point!

    • Vega

      By George, I think she’s got it!

  • SG

    It’s time and I think the tide is changing and we will have our veg show soon.
    Did you all see the Dirt Candy chef the other night on Iron Chef though? That is NOT how we want to represent using excessive amounts of butter to make vegetarian food. Seriously goes against everything most veggies I know stand for or eat. It was vile so much so that the host kept pointing it out.

    • http://veganversion.blogspot.com Vegan Version

      I couldn’t agree more- it should have been Battle Butter and not Battle Broccoli. Huge disapointment.

      • Vega

        I got so sick of all the butter I had to turn it off.. What WAS she thinking?

    • Jennifer

      And she used marshmallows! Soooooo not vegetarian. I was disappointed in that particular Iron Chef episode. It was like they purposely picked her because of all the animal products she was willing to use. I don’t want her being the voice of vegetarians, that’s for sure!

      • Brenda Jorgensen

        She’s vegetarian, not vegan. Vegetarians use animal by products all the time, daily. All they cut out is the actual animal flesh. The muscle. The body of the animal, not any by products. That’s why she used whatever else she wanted, she was just thinking, don’t add chicken or meat, etc…. too bad we couldn’t have had a vegetarian (better yet, vegan!) to represent some healthy cooking. Oh well. Otherwise we can all eat grilled cheeses, cream of broccoli soup, chocolate chip cookies, 3 sticks of butter and chocolate milk all day….I mean, that’s vegetaian, right? Sigh.

  • Brandi

    I have been saying this forever. How can they have like 5 down home barbeque shows (I swear, they’re all the same) and NO vegetarian shows? There are more and more vegetarians, and tons of celebrities making a vegetarian or vegan impact.. They seem a little behind on the times.

  • Rachelle

    Back a few years ago, the Food Network did have a vegetarian show–hosted by a guy named Curtis (forgot his last name)…It was called “Pick of the Day” and he even mentioned he was vegetarian on air. But like I said…that was many moons ago. :)

    • http://veganversion.blogspot.com Vegan Version

      I remember that show. Curtis Aikens. It was decent. We do need a vegan chef. I would love to see Kathy from the lunchbox bunch!

  • Rachelle

    Found it on Wikipedia:

    Pick of the Day – vegetarian cooking show hosted by Curtis Aikens

    It disappeared from the Food Network years ago…I’ll stick to ‘Christina Cooks’ on PBS Create…She’s all vegan and the recipes are simple enough. :)

  • QUINCY

    I watching a cupcake contest on food network the other day and thinking why was there not a vegan entry ? I would love to see a show where top omni and vegan chefs make their version of the same dish and a panel does a blind judging to see which one taste best . They could also do a numerical rating on each while also comparing the calorie and nutritional profiles . In other words perhaps the dairy version rated 95 and the vegan 90 on flavor but if nutritionally the vegan rated 95 and dairy rated 20 , well then you decide ….

    • http://noisychaos.com/ Nick

      The vegan chef, Chloe Coscarelli, won on cupcake wars:

      http://chefchloe.com/

      • Kevin

        The Vegan girl one?! Awesome!! I watched the first few minutes of that episode but then had to leave. I was rooting for her. Glad she won!

  • http://www.vegetariantravel.com donna zeigfinger

    OK how about a reality show where the chefs must cook for either celebrities or the public. The customers are unknowingly eating vegan food. They need to pick the winner chef’s dish.
    OR-
    I also like the idea of having doing a show like the one on IFC
    Called Cooking with the Band.
    We could call it Cooking with the Stars
    Since there are a ton of actors, musicians, politcians that are vegetarian we can have a host chef and each week have a chef spotlighted along with a celebrity. The guest chef can cook the meal each week and the celebrity can talk about what they are up to.
    With that we could also do vegan culinary vacations with the chefs and the celebrities.

  • tatttt2

    Food Network is very close minded. i’ve spoken to them before besides the fact they don’t feature different varieties of food, ethnicites etc, they dont even showcase the various ways a meal can be prepared 95% of the meals are either pan fried or grilled. no steaming, no clay/pottery cooking etc. so they dont even provide versatility with the stuff they cook/eat.

    • http://www.vegetariantravel.com donna zeigfinger

      Well there is a show that used to be called VegTV
      and used to be on the Healthy Living channel.
      We should bring that one back and maybe put it on the Green Planet Channel. Or better yet-Bravo!

  • Jen U.

    Would love to see the Post Punk Kitchen gals get a Food Network show. But I suppose that wouldn’t be nearly as punk rock. :)

  • http://www.vegtv.com Marie Oser

    VegTV has been producing and streaming vegan food, health, nutrition and environmental themes since 1999.

    VegTV, the half hour show was on nat’l cable from Jan. 2003 to Dec. 2005

    We are poised and readhy to take it to the next level…
    Tell the close minded Food Network “I Want my VegTV”

    Buzz:
    VegTV On The Road: Veg TV is on the road from L.A. to Chicago, Kauai to India. http://bit.ly/9t2LwA
    Sizzle:
    The Enlightened Kitchen SIZZLES!! http://bit.ly/5XuLC4

  • http://happyherbivore.com Happy Herbivore

    I’ve been invited to FN, so I know that they know that I exist –but despite 100s of emails, tweets, facebook wall posts from my wonderful fans and me saying “GIVE ME A DAMN SHOW~!” they refuse

    but i auditioned to be on the next food network star so here is to hoping!

  • tammy marie

    remember the facebook event that helped betty white host saturday night live?
    maybe someone can start a facebook page to have a vegan show on the food network.
    i have at least 2000 veggie minded friends on my facebook page and other people have a lot more.
    i’m sure we can start a little movement and easily get 8,000 people or more.

    • Vega

      Don’t bother… Betty White is totally different than veg*n eating/cooking.

      I think the answer lies with the response above of the meat/dairy industry. Though FN would never admit that. How much money do you think Glad (SE Johnson?) gives Top Chef? At least whatever the winner gets ($10K or $100K, I can’t remember). Just like Whole Paychecks gives oodles and oodles for all the food the contestants buy each week.

  • http://www.aftertheharvest.blogspot.com After the Harvest

    I’m not sure if she’d be interested in a TV Show, but Ruth Tal of Fresh would be the no-brainer choice for this show. http://www.juiceforlife.com She and her restaurants are amazing.

  • http://dailyvegantips.wordpress.com Sam

    Totally agree with this idea! After I watched that vegan Top Chef episode with Natalie Portman last year it was pretty clear that people, including executive chefs, needed to learn how to cook an array of vegan dishes. Steamed vegetables is not exactly a main meal for vegans despite what restaurants might think. Cooking vegan makes you think about how to structure meals differently.

    • Vega

      Well, grilled veggie plates are now good enough now for all the restaurants at Steve Wynn’s hotels in Las Vegas.

      Bean puree with something, watermelon soup, grilled mushrooms at the steak places, a chopped salad with soybeans at the coffeeshops… Oh and just vegan desserts at the buffets.

      Probably the same price as the dead animal product ones though.

      Think I’ll stay home and cook something more inspiring than those so-called “chefs”

  • Toodles

    Anything that’s ‘young and hip’ sell, right? I think Food Network should call the show, “Young Eats” and make it about vegan foods that keep you young as well as about exciting, edgy young vegan chefs, like Isa and Terry!!!

  • vegan greenhorn

    i agree! victoria moran actually started a blog called Veg and the City at huffington post a few months ago! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victoria-moran.

  • RadicalOmnivore

    If there were money in it they’d have done it already.
    Fact is almost no one is vegan and even vegetarians already have to invent new words like “flexitarian” to fill in the membership lacunes.

    Face it, no one cares for evangelical veganism and veg dishes are already catered for in the regular omnivore programming.

    Now, if the folks at Eco-Razzi were actually interested in ecology instead of greenwashing celebrity veganism, they’d know were in the middle of a serious food diversity crisis and we should be spreading our food impact not further reducing the number of species available to humanity.

  • Missy

    @Tammy Marie has a great idea. If a vegetarian or vegan show is to make it on the Food Network it will only come about…by the people. If enough request it – surely FN will take notice.

    Also there stance that people don’t tune in to watch how people cook is BS. My theory is that people tune in to see a variety of foods, and a variety of ways to cook food. Not a single minded one idea trumps all channel. C’mon!

    Well duh no one can’t get more creative than vegetarians and vegans.

  • Pingback: Top 5 VEG Chefs Food Network Should Hire « ecorazzi.com :: the latest in green gossip

  • au

    i completely agree! my husband and I constantly bring this point up that Food Network needs a show that caters to vegans and vegetarians!

  • http://www.dessertindex.com Kelly

    There is a channel on Dish Network called Veria, and it has a vegetarian cooking show hosted by Ann Gentry (Naturally Delicious), as well as a sugar free/gluten free cooking show (The Sweet Truth) and a woman from one of the first seasons of Top Chef hosts her own healthy eating show (Fed Up). They also have a show dedicated just to tea, called “What’s Brewing” and a show dedicated to making meals from wild foods like weeds, berries, cactus and the like (Hot on the Trail). Check those out and support them so they stay on the air. I gave up on Food Network long ago.

    • Lisa

      Oh I wish I had dish network! Those shows sound amazing!

  • http://www.jacksonholediet.com Lisa daCosta

    I think that gathering the veggie side dishes that are cooked on many of the cooking shows are a way to extend the meal into the vegan/vegetarian category. I also think when Top Chef does a show where the chefs must incorporate an eggplant or some other vegetable goes a long way in extending vegetarian meals. In all the food and lifestyle magazines I read, when the editorial content is “barbeque in Austin” or “picnic in Wine Country” I just pick out the vegetarian items.

    I do think that it would be difficult to draw advertisers to programming around an all vegan show, where you got no real cheese or butter, or gluten free show. Although the comment above talks about programming on Dish Network, you are paying to subscribe to that channel. Other programming must rely on advertisers to pay their way.

  • http://RawPlanet.TV Jeff Goolst

    Michael,
    Great minds think alike!
    We have created, produced and shot an un-cooking show on Raw & Vegetarian cooking.
    The show’s working title is “Rockstar Cooking” and hosted by sexy Canadian punk rocker-BIF NAKED.
    Bif is hilariously fun and entertaining while getting dirty in the kitchen with some of the best vegetarian and raw chefs on the planet.
    Bif’s mission is to interview fellow rocker’s and celebs who have chosen the healthier path of eating plant based foods.
    We are in the process of pitching Food and other networks and ask for your feedback and assistance in spreading the word.
    To view trailer and webisodes go to:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/KellyMasonCreate?feature=mhum#p/u
    For more info contact me at Jeff@RawPlanet.TV

  • Queen E

    As a dietitian and health educator, I strongly believe a vegan/vegetarian show can be an effective tool to promote life-long health. Too many persons in our society are plagued with chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

    Suggestions for the ‘Vegan/Vegetarian Show’ include:
    1) offer as an alternative entree to promote healthy eating
    2) talk health – provide the health benefits of vegetarian/vegan diet
    3) Include ‘Veg in the City’ concept
    4) This show will increase an awareness to the ‘diet’ and ‘lifestyle’

    I have appeared on TV regularly cooking, educating, and motivating viewers on eating healthy.

    I will be willing to be part of the Food Network Cooking show.

  • Nikki Jean

    It is time! I couldn’t agree more with you or the fellow commenters. I’m was sitting at a blood donation center watching the Food Network and I googled about a vegan show on FN. With so much push, it amazes me that they have not gone for it. I guess we vegans will just have to keep being awesome online instead of on air.

  • Brenda Jorgensen

    How about as an avenue to introduce menus for this awesome “Meatless Monday” campaign?

  • Kk

    You should check out The Cook and the Chef. An Australian series they often serve veg food, Simon does great vegan food frequently.

  • Schoen Sangalli

    The Cooking Channel just aired “Eat Your Veggie” on Unique Eats on 3/2/13 which featured restaurants across the country serving artistic vegetables as the main dish. And by artistic I mean, unreproducible by even the same chef. The dishes were one of a kind master pieces. The commentators repeated over and over; they couldn’t believe there wasn’t an animal product involved in the recipes. We need to stop being mindless, lazy followers of the SAD for the sake of the animals, our bodies, and the Earth.

  • Cindy

    Is about time!!!!? FOOD network should have variety of shows to attract all sorts of dinning preference giving options to different life styles!!!!!!
    Maybe that’s a challenge for FOOD NETWORK???