Celebrity news, at its core, is about inspiration.
Usually, that inspiration takes the form of warnings on how not to live. I call this the "stick" method of inspiration; for an example, look up any story featuring the words "Lindsay" and "Lohan." But there's also the "carrot" form of celeb stories, in which the famous party does something great or charitable or novel that we, the common people, are to use as an example for how to live. These bits of inspiration are what people are looking for when they spend a few extra bucks at the grocery store check-out line or make TMZ their home page: Blueprints for a successful life handed down, purposefully or not, by those who are living with money and fame.
So when news was released this week that power couple Jay Z and Beyonce have decided to go vegan, message boards and Facebook posts were all aflutter about how inspiring this action was, how they'll be teaching us all a valuable lesson about eating healthy and lowering our ecological footprint. Except, well, they're not really doing any of that.
How Jay-Z and Beyonce are going vegan is completely different from how the rest of us would. It's not comparing apples and oranges, so much as comparing an ant that burrows into an apple and a faraway planet that happens to be the color orange.
First, the official announcement. So says the man himself:
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!! This all began a few months back when a good friend and vegan challenged me to embrace a "plant-based breakfast" every day. It was surprisingly easier on me than I thought...
And Jay-Z adds:
P.S. B is also joining me.
The "B" in this case referring to, you know, Beyonce. And while the snarkiest among us will point out that the "going vegan" phase of their lives will last a mere 22 days -- meaning, what's the big deal? -- perhaps it's more important to note that "going vegan" means a completely different thing to gajillionaires than the rest of us.
Here's how all of us go vegan: Do a massive amount of research about what foods you can eat, head out to the store (after some more research) to purchase them, spend time cooking them up in ways that are appropriate to the dietary change and don't taste like pieces of cardboard, eat said foods, perhaps have a day here and there to try out some of the relatively scant vegan-friendly restaurants, repeat.
Here's how Jay Z and Beyonce go vegan: Tell their personal cook they're going vegan. And then eat whatever they make. And then, probably, secure a controlling interest in a vegan-based food brand and make another few million.
Now, I'm not here to harp on Jay-yonce's enthusiasm for the next 22 days. Speaking about your own life goals is fine. Who am I -- someone with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Google Plus, and, lurking somewhere far out there in the Internet ether, MySpace -- to judge? If someone wants to spread the word about some new feat they're trying to accomplish, great. Humblebrag away, everyone.
It's more the idea that this story is somehow relatable to the rest of us, and that they're getting applauded for taking such a brave action.
If Jay Z and Beyonce really wanted to save the world, maybe they should take the money that's being used on the publicist group they have spreading the word about this amazing(!) 22-day feat, or the bonus they're paying their own superstar traveling live-in cook, and use it instead towards -- oh, I don't know -- free in-house healthy cooking lessons for low-income Americans? Or a website for new vegans to consult before embarking on the journey themselves? Or equipping food banks with healthy options?
With a portion of the money they're spending on this "inspirational" venture, the food banks would be nice and stocked up through... well, quite some time.
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