By Published On: 2 February 2015850 words4.3 min read

By Daria Zeoli, Guest Contributor

Did you hear about Beyoncé’s new vegan meal delivery service? I won’t link it here; I think you’ll understand why pretty quickly.

The over-rated superstar (opinions are like assholes, and I am one, okay?) is teaming up with her trainer, exercise physiologist Marco Borges, with a new venture. The company sells protein bars and powders and will deliver plant-based meals to your door. They have a manifesto page, with a bunch of one-liners about what they believe. Here’s one gem that speaks for itself:

We believe that vegan doesn’t mean suffering through the sad modern compromise of a processed soy burger.

By the time I had stumbled across this insulting use of the word “suffering” I had already discovered something else about this new business venture that’s appalling. In the “why plant-based” section:

WHY PLANT-BASED?
There are many reasons to go meat-free – whether it’s to help the environment, improve your health, or other reasons.

The “Plant Based 101” page is actually pretty good regarding what it covers: health and environment. But if you are going to market your meal delivery service as “vegan” – and make no mistake, that was a carefully thought out marketing decision – you damned well better mention animals. “Vegan” is used throughout the website, so it’s not as if I’m implying the word in their marketing. This is why it’s important that we define the words “vegan” and “veganism”this is why it’s important that Donald Watson’s definitions don’t get rewritten for the sake of the mainstream. There is always a double-edged sword when celebrities “go vegan” or eat vegan or mention that they once ate a vegan cupcake. Celebrities have power in this society. It’s one of the reasons why some vegans were fine with it when Beyoncé & Jay Z “went vegan” for 22 days a couple years ago – because it brought attention to the lifestyle.

Let’s be clear: Beyoncé did not stop eating animals for 22 days because she cared about them– she was photographed wearing a fur coat to a vegan restaurant. So it should come as no surprise that she’s gone into business with a “vegan” meal delivery service that omits animals from its “why plant-based” list.

Yet I still felt outraged browsing the website last week. How dare they use the word “suffering” in their manifesto when they can’t even include animals as a reason to eat vegan; when they can’t even stop to consider the animals? They use it in a tongue-in-cheek, “oh look at our first world problems, the soy burgers bestowed upon us are gross” kind of way, and listen, we’ve all waxed nostalgic on the olden days of non-melty vegan cheeses, but you don’t get to use the word “suffering” and ignore the ones that truly do.

Billions of animals are exploited every year in this country and around the world. Food animals get the most attention, when they get any attention at all. The stories, the videos, the photographs of these animals are heart-wrenching. I find it infuriating that they aren’t even deemed worth acknowledging by people who are profiting off of them. I expect it from those in animal agriculture, from circuses and furriers and the like. But when one uses “vegan” to make money and doesn’t even consider them worth mentioning as to “why”?

Am I a hypocrite? This question has been rattling around my head for a few days now. I purchase items from plenty of companies that are not vegan, but offer vegan products. See, those companies don’t call themselves vegan, though. Silk does not say “we’re a vegan milk company.” My local pancake house has a vegan menu, but they don’t pretend to be a vegan restaurant; they’re just catering to a clientele.

I feel that Borges and his partner are a different story. There’s is a blatant intent to capitalize on what vegan means in the mainstream. If someone knew nothing about veganism except that it’s something Beyoncé tried once and something she’s now selling, they would think that vegan stops at your health and environmental impact. Are we going to pretend that the animals have no stake in this? Big ag doesn’t want you to see what goes on behind the walls of CAFOs and slaughterhouses, but are we now also to pretend that there’s no one behind those walls? We know that Beyoncé knows that there are people in the world who align their values with the vegan philosophy: they are the same people that called her out during her 22-day “vegan” diet. This is not a case of ignorance, and that’s what doesn’t sit well with me.

If we don’t bother clarifying what vegan is and what living vegan means, companies like this one will continue to pop up and muddy the waters. Animals are commodities right now, and if we are ever to change the world for them, we cannot let them be erased from our philosophy. If they aren’t even worth mentioning, then what in the world are we standing up for?

By Published On: 2 February 2015850 words4.3 min read

By Daria Zeoli, Guest Contributor

Did you hear about Beyoncé’s new vegan meal delivery service? I won’t link it here; I think you’ll understand why pretty quickly.

The over-rated superstar (opinions are like assholes, and I am one, okay?) is teaming up with her trainer, exercise physiologist Marco Borges, with a new venture. The company sells protein bars and powders and will deliver plant-based meals to your door. They have a manifesto page, with a bunch of one-liners about what they believe. Here’s one gem that speaks for itself:

We believe that vegan doesn’t mean suffering through the sad modern compromise of a processed soy burger.

By the time I had stumbled across this insulting use of the word “suffering” I had already discovered something else about this new business venture that’s appalling. In the “why plant-based” section:

WHY PLANT-BASED?
There are many reasons to go meat-free – whether it’s to help the environment, improve your health, or other reasons.

The “Plant Based 101” page is actually pretty good regarding what it covers: health and environment. But if you are going to market your meal delivery service as “vegan” – and make no mistake, that was a carefully thought out marketing decision – you damned well better mention animals. “Vegan” is used throughout the website, so it’s not as if I’m implying the word in their marketing. This is why it’s important that we define the words “vegan” and “veganism”this is why it’s important that Donald Watson’s definitions don’t get rewritten for the sake of the mainstream. There is always a double-edged sword when celebrities “go vegan” or eat vegan or mention that they once ate a vegan cupcake. Celebrities have power in this society. It’s one of the reasons why some vegans were fine with it when Beyoncé & Jay Z “went vegan” for 22 days a couple years ago – because it brought attention to the lifestyle.

Let’s be clear: Beyoncé did not stop eating animals for 22 days because she cared about them– she was photographed wearing a fur coat to a vegan restaurant. So it should come as no surprise that she’s gone into business with a “vegan” meal delivery service that omits animals from its “why plant-based” list.

Yet I still felt outraged browsing the website last week. How dare they use the word “suffering” in their manifesto when they can’t even include animals as a reason to eat vegan; when they can’t even stop to consider the animals? They use it in a tongue-in-cheek, “oh look at our first world problems, the soy burgers bestowed upon us are gross” kind of way, and listen, we’ve all waxed nostalgic on the olden days of non-melty vegan cheeses, but you don’t get to use the word “suffering” and ignore the ones that truly do.

Billions of animals are exploited every year in this country and around the world. Food animals get the most attention, when they get any attention at all. The stories, the videos, the photographs of these animals are heart-wrenching. I find it infuriating that they aren’t even deemed worth acknowledging by people who are profiting off of them. I expect it from those in animal agriculture, from circuses and furriers and the like. But when one uses “vegan” to make money and doesn’t even consider them worth mentioning as to “why”?

Am I a hypocrite? This question has been rattling around my head for a few days now. I purchase items from plenty of companies that are not vegan, but offer vegan products. See, those companies don’t call themselves vegan, though. Silk does not say “we’re a vegan milk company.” My local pancake house has a vegan menu, but they don’t pretend to be a vegan restaurant; they’re just catering to a clientele.

I feel that Borges and his partner are a different story. There’s is a blatant intent to capitalize on what vegan means in the mainstream. If someone knew nothing about veganism except that it’s something Beyoncé tried once and something she’s now selling, they would think that vegan stops at your health and environmental impact. Are we going to pretend that the animals have no stake in this? Big ag doesn’t want you to see what goes on behind the walls of CAFOs and slaughterhouses, but are we now also to pretend that there’s no one behind those walls? We know that Beyoncé knows that there are people in the world who align their values with the vegan philosophy: they are the same people that called her out during her 22-day “vegan” diet. This is not a case of ignorance, and that’s what doesn’t sit well with me.

If we don’t bother clarifying what vegan is and what living vegan means, companies like this one will continue to pop up and muddy the waters. Animals are commodities right now, and if we are ever to change the world for them, we cannot let them be erased from our philosophy. If they aren’t even worth mentioning, then what in the world are we standing up for?

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  1. Tommy F April 14, 2015 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Great perspective! I totally feel the spirit of your argument, Daria.

    My dream, is that one day we will not even need the word Vegan.. That a heightened state of mindfulness will overcome our culture and bring universal awareness to the mindless pain and suffering endured by countless creatures on our planet. At that point, we will all be Vegan.. so the word will naturally lose it’s relevance and drop-off. There will be no emotional charge left within it and it will lose all relevancy. Until then though, it is necessary to raise consciousness of animal suffering. We need to work “with-in the system”. Any and every opportunity to infuse the powerfully compassionate word “VEGAN” into this relatively mindless culture we now live in, is a success. If Beyonce wants to profit from exposing her curves or selling plant-based meals.. I say, “Go right ahead”. Nobody loses. In my being a compassionate, ethical Vegan, I lose no identity when a superstar like Beyonce half-asses and full breasts’ her way into profiting off of a well-honed word, embodying a message that others have worked so diligently and compassionately to put out there. If there’s an inadvertent awareness and consciousness infused into our mindless culture, by a profiteering mega-star cashing-in on the efforts of others.. I say “no prob”. Wouldn’t be the first time and it sure won’t be the last. At the end of the day.. having Beyonce lip-sync the word Vegan to her audience of loyal followers.. it’s really a WIN for animal compassion. And right now that’s all that really matters.
    -Namaste

    • Daria Zeoli April 15, 2015 at 5:58 am - Reply

      Thanks, Tommy, for your perspective. I appreciate you taking the time to share it!

      As I’ve already stated in this piece, I’m not so sure that this is a win for animal compassion, because I don’t see any compassion in the message. But I’d love to be proven wrong – if this vegan delivery service makes someone stop and wonder about what vegan means, if it makes them more mindful about where there food comes from, and if it makes them think about how other products are made, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

      One thing’s for sure: we’re still talking about this 2 months later. Impact, made!

  2. Martina Yáñez March 5, 2015 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    Thank you for answering Daria
    I respect your position, but I do differ in thinking veganism is a philosophy, because the definition you quoted is only one of many.

    For me, it’s all about the animals, nothing more.
    But I do believe that we have to be open to other kinds of reasons, specially because promoting veganism as something objective (i.e., not involving animal products in manufacturing) will lead to more followers, and at the end, less suffering of animals (which is what we finally want).
    Everybody is entitled to their opinion though, of course. This is just mine.
    Regards,
    Martina

  3. Martina Yáñez February 23, 2015 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    Let me start by saying that I don’t support Beyonce at all. Especially because she wears fur and showcases it. But regardless of my personal feelings about the entertainer, I have to defend her position here.
    She never said she was going vegan because of animals. She should not have to defend animals. “Veganism” is NOT a religion, it doesn’t impose rules, or anything like that. It’s merely a way to describe that there are no animal parts used in a certain product or meal, and their manufacturing process.
    If you are vegan because you feel for animals and their suffering, that is beyond respectable. But if somebody wants to go vegan because, I don’t know, they wanna be thin, it helps with their bowel health or whatever reason, that is THEIR choice.
    So please don’t make veganism or vegans sound like we’re part of a group or association with certain rules, because we are not. Only “rule” is the one I mentioned above. And it’s not even a rule, just a description.

    • Casper Dobbson June 1, 2015 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      Martina I completely agree with you! Whatever the reasons behind a person’s choice to go vegan, what really matters is that by their decision to do so a reduction in animal suffering has been achieved. Your point is so true that vegans shouldn’t be subject to the rules of vegan doctrine as established by bossy,domineering, self-righteous, critical, judge mental vegan activists who believe it is their right to demand the rest of the world live according to their own personal beliefs. Bill Clinton went vegan for health reasons. Al Gore did it for environmental concerns. I did it for animal rights. Who cares why a person goes vegan!!! As long as they do, animals suffer less. That should be all that matters. I applaude you Martina for speaking out as you did!!! Good for you-you are a true credit to the vegan community!!!!!!!!!

      • Casper Dobbson June 2, 2015 at 7:44 pm - Reply

        By the way Daria I saw your snyde comment on Twitter. If you want to mock my comments then at least conduct yourself with integrity And do so here in an honest “face to face” manner.

        • Daria Zeoli June 3, 2015 at 4:57 am - Reply

          Whoa, Casper, hang on a minute. I wasn’t mocking your comment. In fact, the question, “who cares why someone goes vegan,” is something I’ve seen posed by more than just you recently – which is why I tweeted it.

          My answer still stands: I guess it depends on whether they stay vegan. If they don’t, I assume the animals they resume eating. I wasn’t mocking anyone, including you; that’s my honest answer – if someone goes vegan for 22 days or until 6pm, but isn’t given any other reasons to keep being vegan, then any animal eaten when they stop the meal plan cares.

          If you think that’s a snide comment, that’s on you. I happen to think your comment above about bossy, domineering, self-righteous, critical, judgmental vegans is way more snide, but the difference is, I didn’t take that personally.

          If you’d like to discuss this further, feel free to email me at [email protected].

          • Casper Dobbson June 3, 2015 at 8:44 am - Reply

            According to this website every day that a person eats a vegan diet they save the life of one animal. So if someone such as Beyoncé goes vegan for 22 days, then they spared the lives of 22 animals. You seem not to see that as meaningful but I’m fairly certain that the animals whose lives were spared would disagree with you even more passionately than I do.

            Oh, and you were mistaken not to take my comments personally…I absolutely meant to include you as one of the bossy, domineering, self-righteous, critical, judgemental vegans. In no way do I mean to demean you or insult you or hurt your feelings. But I’ve been reading through several of your pieces on YDV and I think that you need to be called out for being those things. This is a great website with so much to offer but I feel strongly that your opinions and attitudes are often so negative and critical and misguided that they do more harm than good. You are entitled to your opinions, of course. But I’m entitled to mine as well, and I’m not the only person who responded to you with this type of feedback.

            • KD Traegner June 3, 2015 at 9:38 am - Reply

              Hi Casper,

              As the Editor, I don’t normally step into these types of discussions but wanted to address some of the things you and Daria have been talking about. Particularly whether or not it helps or hurts animals to leave them out of the conversation- because at the heart of it, that is what this post is trying to discuss. Listen, you’re right. Every animal life that can be saved can be considered a win. But only insofar as that one animal that one meal. True lasting change (affecting billions of farmed, domesticated, and free-living animals) will only come through a vegan world. And that can only happen if we are talking about the animals. If we leave the animals out of the conversation then how are we advocating on behalf of them?

              You certainly have the right to feel that Daria’s approach is not your cup of tea. I understand. She’s very passionate and it comes through in her writing. But as someone who knows her, has worked with her and encouraged her to share her voice I can tell you that she’s not self-righteous at all. She is absolutely critical or judgmental of industries that make money from of the lives of animals- I’m pretty sure all vegans are. Is she angry? Probably. But I am too. It’s natural to be angry at what is being done to animals- that’s why it’s call an injustice. I would like to encourage you to read some of her other work to gain a better understanding of her point of view, you’ll find that mix of passion and compassion you’re looking for.

              I’d be remiss if I didn’t also say that I appreciate the comment and the discussion (and the compliment on a great website- thank you). Veganism isn’t black and white and no one person knows the best way to advocate it. If we did, we’d be happily living in a vegan world right now. These conversations are vital if we are going to create that world we all want so desperately. Thank you for contributing to it. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on future articles :)

              • Casper Dobbson June 3, 2015 at 10:08 am - Reply

                KD thanks for your thoughts. I agree with you that all vegans should be angry with industries that make money from the lives of animals. But Daria’s article wasn’t doing that. She was criticizing a vegan food company for not being vegan enough! That is something different entirely and that is, in my humble opinion, unproductive. I’m sure Daria is a good person and I respect some of the things she has written. However, I adamantly feel that this piece is self-righteous and overly critical, even if its author isn’t. I stand by that opinion.

                I truly value YDV though and hope you keep up the great work for years to come. I remember when I very first became vegan I came across your website and learned a great deal from it, particularly about the connection between the environment and veganism, and bees and honey production. You provide a very valuable resource and I deeply admire you for it!!!

  4. Jan Fredericks February 7, 2015 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    also no fur

  5. Teri February 6, 2015 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    ps. Animals are highlighted on their website – Look closer.

    • Daria Zeoli February 7, 2015 at 5:58 am - Reply

      As I wrote, animals are not highlighted on their ‘101’ page. They are also not part of their manifesto page. Please link to their animal information, because I’d like to read it.

  6. Teri February 6, 2015 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    To be vegan is to spread the word for ‘animals’ and to do it as ethically and as Smartly as possible – to be vegan is to also be aware of how the human psych works and I have found that ‘positive’ reinforcement – education, not annihilation is the key. I don’t understand why all the newbie vegans are so angry.? Would they prefer she promoted a meat franchise.? Are they aware that by using a computer they are not in fact the perfect vegans.? Who is – There is a lot of hypocrisy floating around. I personally would prefer she promoted veganism than a meat franchise – Imagine if the newbie vegans stop muddying the water and in place constructively educated beyonce on the realities of animal industries – imagine if/when she starts promoting the welfare of animals.! – well she wont if we turn her off. Evolving vegans need to use their Smarts – for the Animals sakes and think the Bigger picture.

    • Daria Zeoli February 7, 2015 at 6:07 am - Reply

      I don’t think It’s just “newbie” vegans who are taking issue with this – I’ve been vegan for five years, so I’m past the newbie stage. And it’s not as simple as “why can’t [insert name of latest celebrity] be perfect like us?” I certainly can’t speak for everyone else, but I know that I’m not perfect, and I know that veganism isn’t about perfection.

      What I’m concerned about is the continued distillation of what veganism is as facets of it go mainstream, and how that’s led to animals not even being a part of the discussion. If we are to spread the word for animals, we cannot let them be erased from the philosophy. I realize we get here from different paths – health got me thinking but animals quickly kept me here. Defining veganism as a diet or a “before 6” or a “sometimes” quickly turns into “let’s not mention how animals are exploited” and that can be dangerous in the long run. It’s one of the reasons I’m so grateful at how Skinny Bitch went about their marketing. They absolutely went about it from a health/appearance way – but when you opened the book, you were also met with information about what is done to animals.

      Thank you, Teri, for commenting. I think it’s important that we have these discussions. We all come at the world with our own filters and our own perspectives, and in order to learn and grow we have share them.

    • Casper Dobbson June 1, 2015 at 11:26 pm - Reply

      Teri I completely agree with you! Well said:)

  7. MMA Vegan February 3, 2015 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    You hit the nail on the head! Those other non-vegan companies are not *pretending* to be vegan, so it’s not as weird to buy a vegan product from them. Even if I prefer to buy from a vegan company. I don’t buy Daiya any more because they are paid by a meat company to promote them on their website. Their products may be vegan, but the company is not, and if they had just never claimed to be vegan in the first place I wouldn’t be annoyed like that. As for Beyonce, I’ll never buy from a company who trashes the definition of the word “vegan”. Never never never. Marketing is not an excuse to completely misuse, disrespect and corrupt the definition of a term which means a lot to a group of people. They have a term to use, “Plant-based”. If they want a one-word term, they can make one, just like Donald Watson did.

    • Daria Zeoli February 5, 2015 at 7:18 am - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m comforted to see others feeling similarly around the interwebs, because there is a lot of fawning all over the news as a great thing and it just doesn’t compute in my head.