Win lifetime Beyoncé tickets… on one condition

Green: Beyoncé and Jay-Z want fans to “incorporate more plant-based meals into their lives.”

Beyoncé and Jay-Z are offering free tickets to their concerts for life, if fans promise to go vegan. Plant-based diets are all the rage right now, but are they always a good idea?

“Man, we were just in the food court, eating our gyros,” raps André 3000 on Beyoncé’s 2011 hit Party. Well, André will have to find a new place take Bey for dinner — Queen B has gone vegan, and she wants you to do the same.

Beyoncé is so passionate about the cause that she and Jay-Z have offered one lucky fan tickets for life to their shows. All they have to do is commit to eating plant-based meals.

Beyoncé announced the scheme to her 123 million Instagram followers, posting a link to The Greenprint — an initiative which encourages people to eat more vegan food.

“We all have a responsibility to stand up for our health and the health of the planet,” Jay-Z and Beyoncé wrote. “Let’s take this stand together.”

Right now, veganism is huge. In the UK, the number of vegans has rocketed from 150,000 people in 2014 to around 600,000 in 2018. Last month, a record number of people signed up for Veganuary; vegan bloggers command millions of devoted followers; and big brands have launched a glut of plant-based produce.

Vegans cite several benefits. One study claims that avoiding meat and dairy is the “single biggest way” a person can reduce their carbon footprint. Researchers have also linked plant-based diets with lower risks of heart disease and cancer.

All good, right? Not necessarily.

In some cases, the economic impact of vegan trends can be harmful: take avocados. Huge demand for them in Western countries is driving deforestation in Mexico as farmers rush to plant more avocado trees.

Furthermore, importing fashionable foreign vegetables may make them less sustainable choices. “Eating lamb chops that come from a farm a few miles down the road is much better for the environment than eating an avocado that has travelled from the other side of the world,” argues journalist Emma Henderson.

However, this was disputed by a 2018 study which found that meat and dairy products were responsible for around 75% of the food-based greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. The emissions from international shipping, in comparison, were “marginal”.

Power plants

So should we all go vegan for Beyoncé? Many people would certainly agree — particularly due to the environmental and animal welfare arguments in support. But is the lifestyle right for everyone?

Furthermore, what does this story say about the cult of celebrity? Why do we feel compelled to follow the example of the rich and famous? Would it be better if people decided to embrace veganism based on their own morals, rather than copying celebrities? Or is Beyoncé right to use her platform to spread positive messages?

Note: A previous version of this article mentioned a study linking vegetarianism and eating disorders. This has been removed.

You Decide

  1. Should we all go vegan?
  2. Do we care about celebrities too much?

Activities

  1. Summarise the advantages and disadvantages of eating a vegan diet. Share your ideas with the class. Now take a class vote: should we all go vegan?
  2. Read the Isabella Tree piece by following the link in Become An Expert. Summarise her key arguments into bullet points. How does she use language effectively? What techniques does she use? Overall, is her article convincing? Why/why not?

Some People Say...

“Moderation is best in all things.”

Hesiod

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The offer of lifetime tickets covers a period of 30 years, and is currently only available to Beyoncé’s American fans. The Greenprint initiative is based on the idea that habits are often formed in 21 days. It encourages people to try veganism for this period of time in the hope that it will develop into a long-term lifestyle choice.
What do we not know?
We do not know precisely how many vegans there are in the UK, but their numbers certainly are growing. We do not know if this trend will also be felt in other parts of the world. For example, there is currently a rising demand for meat products in Asia, where incomes are growing.

Word Watch

Gyros
A type of meat kebab.
Vegan
We do not know for sure if Beyoncé is totally vegan. On one of her Instagram posts it says she has committed to “meat free Mondays”.
Wrote
This quotation comes from a preface the pair wrote for the new book The Greenprint: Plant-Based Diet, Best Body, Better World, by Marco Borges.
Veganuary
When people commit to going vegan for the month of January.
Produce
McDonald’s has launched a vegan burger; Greggs, a vegan sausage roll; and Waitrose boasts its own vegan fish fingers.
Study
“Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers,” by J. Poore and T. Nemecek.
Linked
In the study: “Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: A systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies.”
Study
“The role of trade in the greenhouse gas footprints of EU diets”, published in Global Food Security last year.