Much to the disappointment of her fans, Beyoncé revealed last week that the plant-based (vegan) diet was responsible for her recent weight loss. She later went on to promote her new vegan meal service.
This was great news! With her reach, I’m sure she has influenced millions of people to look at their lifestyles and consume fewer animal products. From where I’m sitting, this is a win.
However, as expected, her announcement came with some backlash. First from her fans, who quite frankly, most of them couldn’t care less about her diet and were more interested to hear about an upcoming tour or new album. And then you have the vegan community, who think she’s a fraud and is not a “true vegan”.
I can see the frustration for both claims. In this post, I want to look at what it means to celebrate the progress of veganism.
I came across this interesting article on Medium Beyoncé: This “vegan” wears furs. Carole is a talented writer and made a strong case against the celebration of Beyoncé’s announcement.
“Beyoncé is a business woman callously draped in dead foxes, minks and lynxes, expanding her and her husband’s billion-dollar empire by masquerading as a vegan.”
And then she goes on to say;
“Are we supposed to celebrate anybody who claims to be vegan just because they’re famous? What if Isis gave up meat and dairy? Are we supposed to be thrilled? They’re famous and have a lot of influence with millions of people. They could do some real good for animals, right? If they switched to Beyoncé’s “power-snacks” between beheadings.”
Which brings me to the next point.
What level vegan are you?
Whether we like it or not, there seems to be an invisible vegan rating system amongst the community. Some vegans see the decision as an all or nothing approach. While others try to educate themselves on the vegan lifestyle gradually. If we were to be brutally honest with ourselves, the rating system would look something like this:
Level 1 vegan
The level 1 vegans are typically vegan for the health benefits but are not interested in the ethical and environmental benefits of veganism (or currently unaware). These vegans are passionate about green smoothies, kale salads and Buddha bowls. They might eat animal products (like backyard eggs and organic honey) on the rare occasion, making them vegan 95% of the time. They claim to have great balance and to not put too much pressure on being strict with their diet.
Level 2 vegan
This is the person who was shocked into the change after watching Earthlings, Cowspiracy or Forks Over Knives. They have mixed emotions, immense social pressure and the challenge of finding and cooking tasty plant-based food. They’re passionate about animal liberation and simply cannot support animal agriculture. They may still wear second-hand non-vegan clothes.
Level 3 vegan
This person is the hardcore advocate that is fully committed to veganism. They have a lot of experience living a plant-based lifestyle and make a point of encouraging others to do the same. They care deeply about the treatment of animals and the environment. Many of these vegans have no problem calling out others how they consume animals and their by-products.
What level vegan is Beyoncé?
After looking at the levels, it’s clear that Beyoncé is a level 1 vegan as she made the switch purely for health benefits. As Carole clearly articulates, Beyoncé can still be seen wearing animal skin. Other reports suggest that she still eats red meat now and then.
Does that mean that we shouldn’t celebrate her announcement?
Of course not.
We need to stop being so hard on each other and start celebrating progress.
Let’s be happy for progress
Sure Beyoncé’s diet could merely be a trend, and sure, she hasn’t shown much evidence of having compassion for animals. BUT, did her announcement save more animals? You bet it did.
So why not celebrate the progress?
I think it’s great that people are making better choices through plant-based living, regardless of what level they are. I understand how difficult it can be to give up animal consumption after doing it for a lifetime. So any progress is worth celebrating.
Don’t put pressure on yourself or others to be a level 3 vegan. Be open, continue to educate yourself, and connect with people who are on a similar path.
More importantly, celebrate any progress you make, whether that’s giving up cheese or getting rid of your leather clothes. Pat yourself on the back and move onto the next step.
On that note, regardless of Beyoncé’s motivation, let’s celebrate the announcement as I’m sure many animals around the world are.
What about you? Do you think Beyoncé’s announcement was worth celebrating?