Jay Z Is Going Vegan for 22 Days. Is This Good for Veganism?

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 5 2013 11:38 AM

Jay Z Is Going Vegan for 22 Days. Is This Good for Veganism?

Beyoncé will join Jay Z in his three-week "spiritual and physical cleanse."

Photo by WIN MCNAMEE/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this week, Jay Z made an important announcement on his website: “On December 3rd, one day before my 44th birthday I will embark on a 22 Days challenge to go completely vegan, or as I prefer to call it, plant-based!!” Hova joins a long roster of celebritiesOprah, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zooey Deschanel—who have temporarily forsaken all animal products. Perhaps in part because of its most visible advocates, veganism retains an aura of girliness—real men, according to a persistent and stupid stereotype, eat meat. But unlike most famous vegans, Jay Z has machismo to burn. Could Jay’s decision to go vegan for a few weeks be an effective antidote to veganism’s effete image?

Maybe, but probably not. For one thing, “22 Days challenge” isn’t a typo—Jay is following a plan set out by the company 22 Days Nutrition, which was founded by exercise physiologist Marco Borges (whom Jay Z calls “my friend Marco”) and makes meal-replacement bars—excuse me, “nutrition-packed vegan options for people who are trying to transform their lives, bodies and habits.” 22 Days bars appear to be something like spiked Lärabars—concoctions of dried fruits and raw nuts with additions such as yerba mate (a source of caffeine) and inulin (a dietary fiber). They cost $3 a pop when you buy them in bulk; 22 Days also sells various protein powders for $45 a pound. On the surface, at least, Jay Z appears to be endorsing not the environmental, health, and moral benefits of veganism so much as his friend’s line of expensive diet foods.

Of course, shilling for your friends’ brands is nothing new for pop stars or hip-hop royalty—and I’d rather Hova promote vegan snack bars than, say, a company with a pattern of racially profiling its customers. But given the convenient brevity of Jay’s abstinence from animal products and the underlying commercial aspect of his announcement, I’m skeptical Jay will be a PETA spokesman any time soon.


In the meantime, hip-hop fans who want to demonstrate that vegetarianism is compatible with street cred can continue to point to the Wu-Tang Clan.

L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. 


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Oct. 17 2014 4:21 PM Why the Poor Pay $1,400 for Old iPads #MuckReads: A weekly roundup of investigative reporting from ProPublica.
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 1:54 PM Republican Midterm Debate Strategy: Be Pro-Life, But Not Anti-Abortion
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 19 2014 7:30 AM Persistence Pays Off: The Smoking Trail of a Shooting Star
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.