Jay-Z and Beyoncé Are Vegan! Why You Shouldn’t Follow Their Lead

The 22-day diet doesn't do much to promote veganism's ideals — or your health

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Kevin Mazur / WireImage

Since early last week, music-industry power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z have gone vegan, as part of a 22-day diet plan. According to Jay-Z’s website announcing their endeavor, they decided on 22 days because someone once said it takes 21 days to break a habit, and on the 22nd day, you’re golden.

They started on Dec. 3, a day before Jay-Z’s 44th birthday, after a friend recommended the music mogul try a vegan breakfast every day. He did, and found it rather easy, so decided to take on a harder challenge. “So you can call it a spiritual and physical cleanse… I don’t know what happens after Christmas. A semi-vegan, a full plant-based diet? Or just a spiritual and physical challenge? We’ll see…” he wrote on his blog.

There are many reasons to go vegan. Eating less meat is considered better for the environment because raising livestock uses more energy and resources than foods like fruits, grains and vegetables. Advocates for animal rights often choose the diet, as well as individuals who want to eat healthier and lose weight.

But going vegan for just a brief period isn’t likely to have much of an impact on any of those outcomes. And that’s not just because you can still eat French fries and a soda and call it a vegan meal. Simply labeling such partial vegan eating as vegan isn’t adequate when it comes to improving your diet to better the health or the environment. At least, according to Mark Bittman.

Bittman, a food journalist and author, developed the “Vegan Before 6” diet, which is a more fluid form of the vegan lifestyle that allows him to cheat and eat whatever he wants after 6 p.m., as long as he maintained vegan principles throughout the day. It’s not true veganism per se, but it pushes him toward a more plant-based diet and honors the principles behind the practice.

Bittman came to veganism when a friend recommended he try the diet to lose weight and cure his sleep apnea and knee pain. He developed his own version of the diet and lost significant weight. But he acknowledges that he’s not a true vegan. “If I was starting this [diet] today, I wouldn’t use the word vegan because I don’t think it adequately expresses the dietary direction we all need to take,” he says. “You can eat junk food and be a vegan, and you can eat animal products and have a terrific diet. From a personal health perspective, junk food is more important [to move away from] than animal products.”

(MORE: It’s Not Just the Fat: There’s Another Way Red Meat May Harm the Heart)

Labeling diets may be too restrictive and keep people from eating the way they should, he says. Eating right comes down to much more than avoiding meat products, or products that come from animals in any way. For Bittman, attempting to eat vegan before 6 p.m. cured him of his sleep apnea and weight-related symptoms. “The best reason to be 100% vegan is really ethical. You don’t think animals should die for your benefit. I’m sympathetic to that, but there are many good reasons for humans to raise and eat animals,” says Bittman. For many people, farming is their lifestyle, and a moderate amount of meat is a high-protein source and can be a part of a healthy diet.

That’s why he can’t get behind the vegan dabblers, who adopt the diet for only a short period of time. Granted, Beyoncé and Jay-Z may end up continuing their vegan ways after their trial run. But there are other reasons the power couple may not be the best role models for healthy eating. “Maybe Beyoncé is misinformed — on the one hand she takes money from Pepsi to push some of the worst so-called foods ever created. And then she announces she’s vegan for 22 days —but what is she doing beyond that? The point is not to be vegan for three weeks, but to improve our diets and the way we treat the earth and other species. Not for three weeks but permanently,” says Bittman. For Beyoncé to post pictures of her vegan meals every day to promote better health while her Pepsi ads are still on TV, he says, is contradictory. Beyoncé’s publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, responded in an e-mail, that she “truly believe[s] this is a non-story.”

“The point is that we want for ourselves and other people to be eating better. We want our agriculture to be less damaging to the environment, we want to be kinder to animals, we want fewer poisons in our food,” says Bittman. “All of those things are important and are not adequately summed up by the word, vegan.”

Bittman realizes that even his approach may not be the ideal one — he admits he cheats every morning with half and half in his coffee. But at least, he says, if you want to adopt vegan principles for yourself or the environment, make a commitment and do it with some conviction.

MORE: The Morality of Mealtime

11 comments
MikeSpurlock
MikeSpurlock

Is Beyonce eating her vegan diet with all her FUR coats on?. HYPOCRITE!

Vegan by day- bunny butcher and fox hater by night. HYPOCRITE!

lordofthefly
lordofthefly

Why would anyone follow their lead in anything? They are two uneducated, over-hyped people. He was a drug dealer before he made it big in hip-hop.

AllMyGoogles
AllMyGoogles

Garbage journalism: Eating less meat is considered better for the environment because raising livestock uses more energy and resources than foods like fruits, grains and vegetables. Why use a qualifier like "considered" when stating a fact?



SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

The stupid cow, Drag Queen B walked into a Vegan place covered head to toe in leather.  She is such an idiot.

ScottConder
ScottConder

They may be on a "temporary" plant-based diet, but they're NOT vegans.  Veganism is about more than just food as everyone seems to be forgetting here.  How can she call herself a "vegan" when she wears fox fur trimmed jackets and leather outfits (complete with cowhide designs printed on them) to vegan restaurants.  In essence, she's giving all the REAL vegans a big one-finger salute and saying "F-you!"  It's like someone going to one of her concerts wearing a confederate flag t-shirt and carrying a noose.  She's disgusting.

Kelli
Kelli

I'm not sure there's a lot of evidence here why people should not move toward a plant-based diet. In the nutrition community, a plant-based diet doesn't necessarily mean an animal food-free diet. But, the whole foods, plant-based camp pushes for no animal products/flesh foods. You can be a junk food vegan, yes. The goal for health would be eating whole foods, not processed foods or extracted oils. Dr. Joel Fuhrman has one of the most nutritionally sound programs. Less stringent, 100% plant-based plans would be "Engine 2," Dr. Esselstyn's plan, Dr. McDougall's plan, etc.

VINEsanctuary
VINEsanctuary

You seem to maybe miss the point of these 22-day and 30-day vegan challenges. They are a way to ease people into what will be lifelong dietary changes. So, arguing that making the change for only 22 or 30 days won't make a huge difference kind of misses the point. Oh, and Beyonce's new album is brilliant. Just saying.

AndyPlusLeahMatchett
AndyPlusLeahMatchett

@ScottConder I agree with you it is hypocritical to say your vegan and that you don't  want an animal to be killed for your pleasure only to walk around in fur and leather with no concerns of where those item's came from, but i think that the reason Beyonce went on the diet was simply to be healthier and loose weight and tbh, the only concern i would have is for children and teenagers who would read all about Beyonce and try this diet in the wrong way thinking they can look like her only to end up harming themselves.

MariaBlackwell1
MariaBlackwell1

@ScottConder Scott, while I understand your point I must tell you that not everyone starts out as a full blown animal rights or green peace activist and it is OKAY. I'm not a Beyonce fan but she does have a lot of influence and maybe her fans will follow her example. If she successfully adapts a vegan lifestyle I'm sure she will realize the mistakes ( we made many too) she is making now. I think one important aspect of a vegan lifestyle should be extending kindness and love to all creatures..


buenostardis
buenostardis

@ScottConder You had a nice point until you tried to equate her false veganism to being a racist.