Celebrities Going Vegan?: How vegans feel about Beyoncé going vegan

Embed from Getty Images

 

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or joined the Internet today, Beyoncé announced she’s gone vegan. In a pre-filmed clip aired on Good Morning America she announced the benefits a vegan “diet” has done for her body and a wish to share it with the world (via her new business ventures and co-authored book).

While Beyoncé’s news is a happy one for animals everywhere, I wonder whether her new announcement should be welcomed by the rest of the vegan community or not. Don’t start blasting me yet! I don’t hate Beyoncé or any other celebrity that’s chosen to adopt a plant-based lifestyle. I think it’s great, but the pros and cons of a person of such social power joining any movement, specifically ours, could mean great or terrible things.

The Pros: Reach, Reason, and Riches

There’s no denying the social influence of a woman like Beyoncé. She, and any celebrity that goes full-veggie, has the possibility to reach a lot more people than the average person. They are watched so closely by the rest of the world that almost anything they do goes viral. Women yearn to look and act like their favorite celebrities. Women copy makeup styles, fashion trends, and even relationship advice from celebrities, so it’s safe to assume that diet and exercise advice will also be mimicked. The fact that Queen Bey touts a vegan lifestyle and may just be the jump-start people need. After all, it’s got to be amazing if she does it.

Beyoncé went fully vegan because it was the easiest way for her to lose weight and keep it off. She’s not alone! Many celebrities have chosen to adopt a plant-based lifestyle for weight and beauty reasons. This is huge for veganism, because it allows the idea of a meat- and dairy-free lifestyle to reach people who aren’t interested in the ethical incentives of veganism. As much as the rest of us would love for everyone to care about the animals and the environment, not everyone is going to change their lifestyle and long-ingrained eating habits for those reasons. Some people are going to be more tempted to try something that’s going to make them as attractive as their favorite singers and actors (not that other vegans aren’t hot – they are). A person’s choice to adopt a vegan lifestyle, no matter what their motivation or style of eating, is something to be celebrated.

Along with their social power, celebrities also have the monetary power to create businesses, write books, and create other entrepreneurial ventures to make veganism attractive and available for everyone. The average vegan can’t just decide to create their own mail-order food service to help those struggling with meal planning and expect others to jump all over it. Something like that takes money, time, and great marketing in order to flourish. (This is also where a little social influence helps.)

The Cons: Fads, Fortune, and Failure

Although it can be a pro, celebrities going full-veggie as a diet, not lifestyle, can turn veganism into another fad diet. Veganism is a lifestyle. It’s a cruelty-free way of living where no animals, or animal by-products, are consumed, worn, or used. It is not a fad diet to get unwanted body weight off quickly. When people treat it like a fad diet they often fall back into their old routines. Treating it like a fad diet invites “cheat days,” the continued use of leather and fur, or the use of veganism as a catalyst for weight loss, which will be abandoned the moment the desired results are obtained. These don’t help anyone. Animal lives will still be in jeopardy and people who don’t get their weight loss results will fall right back into their old eating habits with a new grudge against veganism for not working. It’s not meant to work for anything other than the safety, and welfare of animals. Our health is a bonus, not a selling point.

With so many celebrities now turning to veganism, it’d be nice if they didn’t always try to capitalize on the movement. Celebrities using veganism to make more money or gain more publicity seems a bit shady. We get it, they stopped eating meat and dairy and now look even hotter. Do they also need to make money on it? Can’t they just spread the word, donate their money to vegan causes, or support vegan businesses (which ultimately makes more people want to go there too) without having to get some of the profits themselves? If they do choose to create their own businesses, where does that money go? Does it get split between the business and animal charities or does it go into their already bulging pockets?

Besides the money and the debasement of veganism into a fad diet, there is still one con that hurts the movement far worse – failure. The media loves celebrity failure. Relationship, career, and weight failures seem to be what the media and Internet live for. When celebrities go vegan and give it up to eat meat again, the media jumps all over it. (Just look at Bill Clinton’s vegan failure, or even this average guy’s tofu disaster.) If they didn’t like eating vegan, why should anyone else? (Stupid, right?) The sad reality is that society looks up to celebrities, like Beyoncé, as a model to live by and strive for. Veganism has an elitist stigma and can be hard for people to imagine themselves following it long-term after the first few (often expensive) trips to the grocery store. It can be overwhelming for people to get use to giving up animal products, cooking, packing food in advance, finding new recipes, and reading labels for ingredients. When their role model struggles with veganism and fails, it makes it ok for them to give it up too.

I think celebrities can be great allies or great foes in the vegan movement. I’d like to think they will help more people get healthy and save more animals’ lives in the process, but I’m also skeptical. Time will tell, and for right now I’m just glad we’re getting a little media attention. Isn’t that at the very least a step in a positive direction?

How to handle going vegan when the rest of the world “can’t even”

How to Handle Going Vegan When The Rest Of The World "Can't Even"

To anyone not brought up vegetarian or vegan, the shock your lifestyle choice sends throughout the universe may be hard to handle. After all, you are now the leper to all your meat and dairy loving peers who “can’t even” imagine life without dead flesh and titty milk.

You have declared open season on yourself. For the rest of your life, so long as you abstain from meat and dairy, other people will comment on, make judgment on, and challenge you about what you eat. Were you ready for that? Did your reasons, whatever they were, for turning to this lifestyle include hardening yourself against the opinions others will have about your choice for your diet for the rest of your life? Mine certainly didn’t.

I shouldn’t complain, I had it easier than most. I’ve never really liked meat. I almost always refused to eat it as a child, told friends’ parents I was allergic to it growing up, and pretty much avoided it my whole life. Before I decided to openly cut meat out of my life, it was easy to avoid the elephant in the room that the word “vegan” seems to be. After all, who’s going to force you to eat anything you simply don’t like?

How wrong I was. From the moment I associated myself with the “v” word, the world flipped. Friends and family members had a big problem with my diet and still see fit comment on it regularly. While neither my friends nor my family were very subtle about their opinions on my lifestyle, my friends at least try asking questions and trying to work around my “new” way of eating. My family on the other hand saw this lifestyle “change” as open season for debates, endless unsubstantiated facts they “read somewhere,” and the distinct feeling I look protein deficient and pale. (For the record, I was actually closer to being protein deficient before I gave up meat and lived off spaghetti, cheese-less pizza, and Caesar salad. Also, I usually pale. That part is probably true.)

Through trial, patience, lack of patience, and acceptance I’ve learned a few things about how to handle going vegan when the rest of the world “can’t even” deal with your lifestyle choice.

Study your shit.
People are going to challenge you. People you’ve known your whole life, and some you just met, are going to think they know more about your health and diet than you do. Be prepared with facts and rebuttals on demand. If you’re an ethical vegan, study up on animal treatments and laws around the world. If you came to the lifestyle for health reasons, you better know all the facts about how meat diets and veggie diets affect your health. Actually, you should probably know your shit on all aspects and health effects of a veggie diet regardless.

Understand you are not the only one adjusting to your lifestyle.
Your friends and family have grown accustomed to your quirks, behavior, and diet. While it may seem to be a logical change for you to go from eating whatever to having dietary restrictions, it may not be for those around you. Give them time to adjust to your new eating habits. It might be a little stressful for them to try to figure out what you can and can’t eat, when you eat, and especially how much you eat. Change affects everyone differently. Answer their questions, try to ignore their “facts” about your lifestyle, and remember that they’re only concerned because they care. I still struggle with this one from time to time, and that’s okay. You don’t have to be infinitely patient, just enough to cut others some slack.

Be the planner.
It’s time to be the event coordinator of your social situations. Believe me, it’s awkward for everyone involved when you go out to eat with your friends and the restaurant has no meal options for you. This is where your inner event coordinator comes in. There is no longer an option to answer inquiries on where you want to eat with “wherever”. Speak up. Take control of your social life by suggesting safe restaurants, vegHead-friendly activities, and even cooking at home. If these options feel too burdensome, then at least eat beforehand or bring snacks.

Learn to cook.
If you’re new to a vegan diet, or even a vegetarian diet, it will be beneficial to know how to cook. Eating all your meals from restaurants gets expensive quickly, and eating only pizza and boxed macaroni and cheese is an easy way to pack on pounds. There are thousands of YouTube videos, blogs, and recipe websites to feed you for the rest of your life. Don’t let a lack of kitchen experience hold you back, because there are recipes for novices and experts. Take advantage of these resources; your budget and belt will appreciate it.

Let in and let go.
People that live their lives differently from what’s considered normal by society are always subject to curiosity and even contempt. Remember why you chose to switch to this lifestyle, and don’t walk through life with a chip on your shoulder. You may grow and evolve with age, but you’re still the same bag of bones you were before you gave up meat and dairy. Embrace the change. Remember your friends and families love your vegHead ass and will accept you. If they don’t embrace your lifestyle right away, they will in time. Remember that there are meet ups and festivals where you can connect with others who follow this lifestyle. You don’t have to go through life feeling as if there’s a separation from the rest of the world. There’s someone who understands behind this article, and I can probably relate to your journey. If not me, there’s someone else out there that does. Remember that you are not defined by what you do or do not eat. You are a unique individual made up of a complex personality, belief system, and preferences. Don’t get sucked into thinking “you are what you eat” is a literal statement; you are so much more then what you eat. I know it can be annoying to deal with questions and opinions against your lifestyle choice. Again, you don’t have to be infinitely patient with people, just enough to give them the patience and consideration you would like in return.

Switching to this lifestyle is different for everyone, some find it easy and others struggle. If you found a different way to deal with a world that “can’t even” handle your lifestyle, if you found this article helpful, or if you never experienced any turmoil in going vegHead then let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Can you have a relationship with a meat-eater?

Can you have a relationship with a Meat-eater?

Breaking news! Not everyone is a vegHead (yet). There are still people in this world who eat meat, which means it is still possible to fall in love with, or continue to love, a meat-eater after you become a vegHead. What should you do if you’re in love with a meat-eater? Can you have a relationship with a meat eater without being a hypocrite? How can that relationship last?

First thing’s first.
Get over what other people think of you. The vegan and vegetarian communities are getting more and more judgmental towards each other (this is especially evident if you watch some of the more famous YouTube vegans and vegetarians). Remember why you went vegHead in the first place, whether it was for your own health or your love for animals. You’re doing your part, regardless of the initial reason you gave up meat. Don’t let what anyone else may think about your life affect how you live. They don’t have to look in the mirror and see your reflection staring back at them – you do.

Can you hold your partner to a vegHead standard without being a bitch?
I know there are tons of people out there that could never be with someone who eats meat. I’ve even heard of people breaking up with their partners after becoming vegHeads because their partners didn’t want to convert to a plant-based diet. Are those people wrong for holding their partners to the same dietary and/or moral standards they set for themselves? Absolutely not.

If the fact that your partner eats meat disturbs you to the point that you can no longer be with them, it’s okay to separate. If you could never date someone who smiles at dead flesh on their dinner plate, don’t date a meat eater. You don’t need to read this article to know that. After all, there are people in the world that cannot and will not be with someone because of their religious beliefs, political beliefs, or even their lack of funky dance moves (of which I have none). You do what feels right to you, because you’re the one who has to wake up next to them every morning.

What if you just can’t say good-bye to your beef-eating bae? How can that relationship work?
Welcome to my world. Hey, how you doin’?

I’ve been pretty open about my dislike for the taste of meat my entire life. I left the table hungry when I refused to eat the meat put in front of me as a child, snuck meat to my dogs when I was older, and spooned the pieces of chicken off my plate and onto my boyfriend’s plate as an adult. (Because I’m classy like that.)

I still ate meat  a couple times a year, but I didn’t become an openly Fit & Fancy VegHead until last year. I hadn’t had meat in a long time, but I decided to finally put a label to my meat-hating ways back in 2014. It’s been 7 months since I “came out” to my family and my grandparents still think I going to die any day now from a lack of protein.

I had been with my boyfriend, Jonathan, for a year or two prior to openly cutting out meat from my diet. My decision to become a vegHead didn’t surprise him, since he was the one on the receiving end of me spooning my food onto someone else’s plate. He understood my decision and even agreed to try the lifestyle for a while. He gave it his best shot, 5 months, several awesome and not so awesome fake meat substitutes, and 10 extra pounds. He told me about his meat cravings when he had them and almost never gave in. Then last month he confessed he didn’t want to continue to omit meat from his diet, but he did want to reduce the meat and dairy he previously consumed to once or twice a week.

Was I crushed? Did I give up on him, like he gave up on my lifestyle? The lack of ex- in front of his title should have been your first clue. I still love that man-child and we are still together.

To me, the fact that he tried it for several months before deciding a vegetarian lifestyle wasn’t for him is enough. Yes, there is dead rotting flesh in my refrigerator (far away from my fresh veggies and fruit); there are times my house smells like cooked meat; and I am grossed out at what he likes to eat. But I love him and I’m not willing to end our relationship over one aspect of our lives. Honestly, that’s what this issue comes down to.

Is your [future] relationship worth one aspect of your life?
I can’t answer that for you in this article. Again, you are the only person who can answer this question for yourself.

As far as I’m concerned, being a vegetarian does not define who I am. I still think the same as I always have, still have the same personality, and my friends are all the same (most of them eat meat). I still love the same man-child, and I don’t plan on changing our relationship because we have different dietary tastes and tolerances for the meat and dairy industry.

This is my decision for my life. You can make up your own mind on what works for you. I’m just here to let you know it can be done.

 

Are you in a vegHead/meat-eater relationship and want more tips on how to make it work? What’s your opinion on this type of relationship? Let me know in the comments.