Where's the beef? Forget that, where's the damn bacon? The Talk's big-time carnivore Sheryl Underwood has decided to go vegan for the month of February with mentoring from her co-host Sara Gilbert, a longtime vegan and author of the healthy-lifestyle book The Imperfect Environmentalist (Ballantine). TV Guide Magazine sat down with the two CBS chatter chicks to get to the meat of the matter.
TV Guide Magazine: What the heck prompted this? Sheryl lives for bacon!
Sara Gilbert: One day we're doing the show and out of nowhere she says: "You're gonna like this segment coming up. I have a surprise for you!" Not even the producers knew she was going vegan.
TV Guide Magazine: What was your first thought when she told you that?
Gilbert: "Yes! Victory!" My second thought was, "Gee, I sure hope she doesn't ask me to cook anything."
Sheryl Underwood: I do love bacon. [Laughs] Bacon, bacon, bacon! I'm not trying to be trendy and my goal is not to give up meat forever, but I want a lifestyle change. I want to lower my blood pressure and jump-start my metabolism — and do it all naturally. People think I picked February to go vegan because it's the shortest month. No! I'm doing it as a Valentine to me! I read Sara's book and I see the way she eats. I also see the way she's a size 3! I wanna be size 3! When you're a vegan, you lose weight, right?
Gilbert: Well, yeah, unless you sit around eating French fries all day. I think it's awesome Sheryl is being so open about this because it can be scary to make big changes, especially with the audience watching.
Underwood: Steve Harvey told me, "If you're gonna do it, do it in public — because the public will hold you to it!" Of course, some folks think I'm crazy, especially black people. [Laughs] They're, like, "We were 12 years a slave! We got a right to have meat!"
TV Guide Magazine: Are you planning one last blowout Jan. 31?
Underwood: No. I was bad from my 50th birthday at the end of October all the way to New Years. Since then I've been easing into this, substituting olive oil for butter, eating less meat, cutting down on processed food and eating more whole foods so that it won't be cold turkey. [Laughs] But I want this to be fun so I am not giving up alcohol!
Gilbert: Me neither!
Underwood: We're gonna have fun, Sara Gilbert! I like that she trusts me enough to know I am not joking around with something she believes in so strongly. By helping me and teaching me, maybe the two of us can help other people try it, too. I have a lot of Twitter followers who want to give it a shot right along with me.
Gilbert: And that's what it's really about — giving it a try. I don't know that Sheryl will be vegan the rest of her life. She may need to find a middle ground. But I do know this trial period is going to change her life for the best in ways she doesn't yet realize.
TV Guide Magazine: So this has nothing to do with kindness to animals?
Underwood: Oh, that, too. I'm going through "the change" right now — menopause, baby! — and everything makes me cry. Violent movies. Any commercial with a dog in it. I have this whole new sensitivity going on. [Laughs] I'd rather kiss a cow than eat it. My big problem is trying to figure out what's vegan and what's vegetarian. It's a lot to know. Oooh, you know what's good? Hummus and Funyuns! That's vegan, right?
Gilbert: Uh, I'm not exactly sure what's in a Funyun. You have to read labels! No milk parts. No lard.
Underwood: Is lard an animal? I know fish is an animal. What about chicken?
Gilbert: As you can see, we have some work to do. [Laughs] Maybe we should shoot for February...2015?