Vegan or Plant Based? What We Should Learn from Beyonce and Jay Z

Over the past few days the net has been bustling with debates and discussions over Jay Z and Beyonce’s 22 Day Vegan Challenge.

While many of us were excited about the news, others were concerned: will Jay Z and Beyonce give veganism a real go? What about their many clothes and shoes that are made of animal skin and fur, will they ditch those as well? Is this real or just a publicity stunt? What type of attention will they draw to veganism? Will it normalize the vegan diet, or will they just end up harming the vegan cause?

And surely enough, a couple of days later, we woke up to find photos of Beyonce wearing real animal fur while out with hubby Jay Z (eating at a vegan restaurant, no less!). Anyone bewildered by these photos of Beyonce in fur, in light of the so called “vegan challenge” the couple are currently on, should know that the confusion is not Beyonce or Jay Z’s fault.

Vegan vs. plant based

Unlike our report of the 22 Day Challenge, in which we referred to the difference between a plant based diet and a vegan lifestyle, most media channels have reported the challenge as a vegan one. This has significantly added to the confusion, and enhanced the misinformation around the vegan lifestyle, leading some people to assume that vegans are fine with wearing fur or participating in other forms of animal abuse.

The Vegan Police: the aim of this differentiation is not to say who is more or less vegan. Image: Shutterstock
The Vegan Police: the aim of this differentiation is not to say who is more or less vegan. Image: Shutterstock

The Vegan Police

Now before commenters start giving examples of a leather shoe they bought before going vegan and are still using, or not being able to afford replacing the leather seats in their car – we should explain that the aim of this differentiation is not to say who is more or less vegan. No one can be 100% vegan, even if they tried, and as we posted before, we believe that we should all support and encourage one another, knowing that awareness is a process.

But just because we are supportive does not mean that we should blur the essence of veganism: “the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals”. There is a difference between going plant based for health reasons and between going vegan for ethical reasons, and if we don’t speak up, how are we to expect people to know the difference or to pay attention to the vegan cause?

A vegan who wears fur?

Yes, Beyonce’s decision to show up to a vegan hotspot restaurant wearing fur is distasteful to say the least; and for those of us who know the awful price of fur, it is hurtful as well. But considering all the confusion between the terms “plant-based diet” and “veganism”, should any of us really be shocked?

The up side

A vegan who wears fur?  Photo credit: DFree /
A vegan who wears fur?
Photo credit: DFree /

On the positive side of things, every step towards awareness is a positive step, and those who start on a plant based diet out of growing awareness for their health, may also then be open to consider the ethical side of their dietary choices and perhaps will even follow with changes in other aspects of their lives.

This may be a lot of hopes to hang on such a couple, but I feel we should remain positive and know that even if things don’t work out, our community is strong enough to overcome this, especially when awareness and compassion, and historical moral progress are on our side.

When was the last time a high profile persona flaunted her plant-based meals?

Beyonce on instagram: sharing her plant based food
Beyonce on instagram: sharing her plant based foods

And lastly, to those who have been increasingly upset and impatient about the Jay Z and B posts popping up on their newsfeeds – if we were to look at the positive side of things, when was the last time we saw a high profile, mega persona such as Beyonce flaunting plant based high quality meals on Instagram to masses of people?

To many, this could be the first positive encounter with the concept of plant based foods (perhaps even the first one at all!). Some might even be tempted to try it for themselves. Yes, things can go wrong, but should we not at least hope that this will lead to some positive PR?

Cover image: DFree /

Sivan Pardo Renwick

Founder, Director and Chief Editor of The Vegan Woman

Sivan is the founder, director, and chief editor of The Vegan Woman. As a vegan lifestyle expert and public speaker, Sivan leads interactive workshops and online communities that help men and women make the transition into veganism and plant-based diets an enjoyable and uplifting journey.

Sivan is also a writer and contributor on various vegan-living topics, and has been featured on CNN’s Eatocracy, Vegan Weddings HQ, Vegan Views, Vegan Lifestyle magazine, and other national and international platforms.

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