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opinion | Scott Lajoie

Does Beyoncé really understand what veganism is about?

Joanna Szachowska for the Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

Beyoncé is once again a vegan, but I’m not sure she knows what that really means.

During an “exclusive” appearance on “Good Morning America” earlier this month, Beyoncé revealed she has resumed the plant-based diet touted by friend and nutritionist Marco Borges, who is known for his 22-day vegan “challenge.” Beyoncé and husband, Jay-Z, participated in the challenge a couple of years ago, but it evidently did not take — both were photographed eating meat sometime after completing the regimen.

Beyoncé said on GMA that going vegan has been a great diet aid. “Finding something that actually works and keeps the weight off has been difficult for me,” she said. And it’s also good way to get “really firm” skin.


But there was no mention of animal welfare.

That made me wonder whether Beyoncé understands that the concept of veganism is rooted in a strict avoidance of consuming or harming animals — from wearing clothes and jewelry made of animal skins, bone, and teeth, to using cosmetics tested on animals.

Just as puzzling was this post-GMA tweet from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals:

PETA is the same organization that railed against the pop diva for wearing fur. Now it’s apparently thrilled that one of the world’s biggest celebrities is mangling the real meaning of veganism.

Maybe I’m being too judgmental. Perhaps Beyoncé has disposed of her fur coats and will no longer wear leather pants on stage. Maybe the vegan announcement was part of deeper change that goes beyond just wanting to look good in tight clothes.

Eleven years ago, I became a pescetarian, or pesco-vegetarian. That means I eat fish and other seafood, but no other meat. I wonder all the time whether I should go entirely meat-free.

I am aware of the health benefits of a meatless diet, but I made this lifestyle change out of a concern for animal welfare, not my cholesterol numbers. I remember when and where it happened: At the Barnstable County Fair with my now wife, we noticed that the cows and pigs in the 4H stables were personable, like our own recently rescued dog. Since my wife already did not eat beef or pork, and I rarely ordered those meats, the transition was not that difficult.


I’ve made efforts to avoid wearing leather, but it is still difficult to find a good pair of nonleather shoes.

That’s why I admire people who manage to adhere to true veganism. They deserve respect. It’s not a diet that a celebrity should be able to co-opt for promotional purposes; it’s a way of life that respects the welfare of animals.

Then again, Beyoncé certainly wouldn’t be the first person to not fully understand the greater meaning of being vegan or even vegetarian. When my sister was a teenager and I was in college, she declared to our parents that she had stopped eating meat. Years later, I asked her why she made the decision.

“To lose weight,” she said with a laugh.

Scott Lajoie is a writer who lives on Cape Cod.

Watch: Beyoncé’s appearance on “GMA”


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