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?
“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.
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.