‘Beyoncé Said It’s Good’
Celebrities and the Rise of Health-Conscious Retailing
By Shamontiel Vaughn | Contributing Writer
Doctors are treating patients with food as medicine. Vegan burgers are popping up in grocery stores and fast-food chains around the world. Detox teas are a hot topic on social media. And The Economist even declared 2019 the “year of the Vegan.”
So, is America finally having a change of attitude when it comes to physical health and self-help? Is pop culture the reason behind it? And what buying tactics are helping people transition?
The surprising vegan food trend in fast-food restaurants
Veganism is getting quite the boost in popularity in the past few years. And if there’s any question of this, Impossible vegan meat just realized they are running out of inventory to support their customers.
Currently supplying their products to 7,000 restaurants and scheduled to service Burger Kings’ 7,300 nationwide locations by the end of 2019, restaurant visitors and fast-food consumers ideally will have new, healthier items on their menu. But demand is overpowering supplies these days.
White Castle fast-food restaurants already have Impossible Sliders and BBQ Impossible Sliders since January of this year.
For some, the business decision to do this may initially seem odd. Why would fast-food restaurants add vegan meat to the menu when only 5 percent of Americans consider themselves vegetarians and 3 percent consider themselves as vegans?
Plant-based food sales totaled more than $3.3 billion from June 2017 to June 2018, according to a report commissioned by the Plant Based Food Association (PBFA).
The change of heart in meat-dependent restaurants embracing vegetarian and vegan items could be as simple as reaching out to plant-eating consumers who left them.
Or, it could be a change in societal norms, including doctors starting to treat fruits and vegetables as medicine instead of just writing out prescriptions. Out of 121 medical schools, 71 percent did not require doctors to take nutrition courses. But with the rise in diabetes and hypertension, the medical industry knew it had to do something different.
But could this be a fad that will soon go away or is this inclusive trend here to stay?
The celebrity influence: Should celebs push their own healthy lifestyles?
Power couple Beyoncé and Jay took a little flack in 2014 for admitting they were not vegans anymore after their 22-day excursion into veganism. Right before Jay Z’s 44th birthday, they took the deep dive into vegan life. And then stopped.
But that didn’t deter Bey from partnering with her nutritionist/trainer Marco Borges to create the plant-based 22-day food plan. And, in 2019, Jay Z and Beyoncé have gone as far as offering the chance for free lifetime tickets to their concerts, simply for signing up for plant-based meal site The Greenprint Project. (That’s not stopping some fans from openly admitting they’ll never go vegan; they just want the tickets.)
These two aren’t the only celebrities who have put their dietary habits in the limelight only to come up short. “Sister, Sister” actress and real/life twin Tia Mowry posed in a lettuce dress and won a PETA award for promoting veganism. But nowadays she’s working on her “Quick Fix” YouTube channel, preparing meals such as baked chicken wings and showing off her husband/fellow actor Corey Hardrict’s recipe for citrus BBQ ribs.
Celeb pop-ups have been influential regardless of some being short-lived though. PETA’s “We’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” and “Ink, Not Mink” certainly helped spread the word about helping the planet. And designers like Bill Blass, Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Christian LaCroix, Giorgio Armani, Miuccia Prada and Norma Kamali have either eliminated or lowered the amount of fur in their clothing, leading to less animal agriculture.
How health trends are helping and hurting consumers in other markets
Reality stars Kim and Khloe Kardashian were thrown into the fire after critics challenged their promotion of tea weight loss drink Flat Tummy Tea. Social media star Amber Rose and rapper Nicki Minaj have also been criticized for endorsing detox tea products such as MateFit and Fit Tea.
The FAQ section for detox tea sites such as Flat Tummy Tea say the worst that could happen is dehydration. However, Women’s Health magazine points out that there is senna inside of detox tea. And senna operates similar to a laxative. Meanwhile, plain old green tea decreases body weight and fat, is less harmful and it costs a whole lot less too.
The paid advertisements and partnerships aren’t all bad though. Take a casual browse through Instagram, and you’ll find plenty of well-known and lesser-known faces showing off their health and wellness products. Kevin Hart has VitaHustle multivitamins. Cindy Crawford has cold-pressed juices from Urban Remedy. Gym rats can check out athletic wear from Kate Hudson and Kelly Rowland (Fabletics), Beyonce (Ivy Park) and Carrie Underwood (Calia).
Jason Momoa is all about alkaline water. The “Aquaman” actor even took his quest one step further by advocating for Mananalu to help transition people from buying plastic bottles to choosing aluminum drinking containers.
Who should you believe in your health and wellness journey?
So, with all of these mixed messages in the health and wellness industry, and the celebrity world of eco-consciousness, how can one decide what’s credible and what’s not? Chances are, you’ll have to make these decisions through trial and error. Whether testing out a few new food items at your local restaurants and fast-food spots or checking out what your favorite celebrity is doing online, what you buy will just come down to research and personal choice.
After all, if your doctor is still trying to figure out all the perks and precautions of a healthy living world, so can you.