Usher’s Misstep

As anybody who writes regularly will know, be it for themselves or for others, you often find yourself jotting down ideas as they come to you, hoping they’ll make some sense by the time you get around to writing about them.  I was looking over some of my random notes recently (I accidentally just typed “ransom notes” and made myself laugh) and came across this one I had jotted down in a rush:

“Usher and his stupid vegan comment.”

We live in a time now that is probably more obsessed with celebrities than any other century. Or maybe, thanks to social media, famous people are just more accessible than they’ve ever been before which makes our fascination with them only seem like obsession.

It’s not that I don’t get into the celebrity culture – I read gossip blogs and I check out what “the stars” wear at big awards shows – I’m a fan too.  But sometimes, SOMETIMES, I read an interview that makes my eyes roll back so far into my head I can see my own asshole. As well-meaning and well-spoken as most of them appear to be, I’m convinced the most-grounded celebs are probably the ones I rarely read about. They just do their work, live their lives and stay out of offering any life advice outside of their paid profession.

But Usher, oh dear god, Usher.  Whhhhhhyyyyyyeeee? I don’t consider myself of fan of his but that’s because I haven’t listened to any new music since 1987. I have nothing against the guy though.  He can sing and he can certainly dance; he’s a charismatic and seasoned entertainer. But someone needs to give the man a shake and a more-informed diet experience. Here’s what he said last month in an interview with Billboard magazine when referring to the personal chef he used to have on tour with him:

“That was opulent as hell.  It’s was just difficult to find people who can make vegan food taste great.”

Not the worst statement. At least it’s honest (most celebs don’t admit to their extravagances quite so bluntly) and in terms of his experience, it’s also true: he obviously hasn’t had a vegan meal that tasted great to him.  But then, oh, dear god, the train goes off the rails and doesn’t stop until what-in-the-sweet-holy-fuck town:

“These days, I try to eat for my blood type when I’m not eating for the fat kid inside me.  A doctor came up with it, but he hasn’t released it yet so I don’t want to tell you too much about it.  But the idea is to eat the foods that work best for your body.  For my blood type, the meats I can eat are pork, beef and fish.”

Oh, Usher.  How can I break this to you?  That book was already written in 1996 and it was called, “Eat Right 4 Your Type” (any title with a number where a word should be is already suspicious).  My mom actually had a copy of it at one point.  The author, Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo, does not cite his sources properly in the book to back up his claims about the diet nor have any of his findings or supporting studies ever been published in a scientific or medical journal. The blood-type diet has been largely dismissed as yet another fad diet regime that did nothing for anyone’s health in the long-term and only “helped” people lose weight initially because of the caloric deprivation the diet called for, e.g., only 1,000 calories a day for adult women.  (You can read further about Dr. D’Adamo’s diet in Chapter 4 of John Robbins’ book, Food Revolution entitled, “The Great American Diet Roller Coaster”.).  So whatever new, secret information Usher’s doctor friend is feeding him, it’s already been done and from a nutrition standpoint, it’s questionable at best.

According to Billboard’s interview with Usher, his breakfast while the interview was going on was, “…just a couple of fried eggs and some bacon on a paper plate.” Sad. Here is a 36-year old who wants to be healthy and treat his body well.  But between the saturated fat, cholesterol, excessive protein (yes, too much protein is possible) combined in those eggs and bacon, it’s one of the worst things he could put into his system.

I remember hearing a Paramedic speak at a seminar once and he said something that I’ve always remembered: No matter what your size, gender, race or age, when your body needs medical help, the plumbing is all the same.  This whole “eat right for your type” is crap.  We all have a heart, lungs, arteries, a brain, major organs – that is “our type”. And the cholesterol, saturated fat, empty calories and total lack of fiber found in animal products will never serve any of our living cells well in the long run.

I guess it could have been worse.  Usher could have said he felt like shit on a vegan diet or that he had no energy.  He just said it didn’t taste good and the chef was expensive.  To which I say, Usher, your chef sucked on two counts: he/she couldn’t cook and they over-charged.  It’s the chef, not the diet.  I’m just disappointed he had to frame it that way in an interview for a major magazine.  As someone who is a vegan and cooks everyday on a budget and enjoys those meals as well, I’m disappointed he misrepresented the plant-based diet as a whole even though I don’t believe it wasn’t deliberately so. Nevertheless, to play on some famous words by Dorothy Parker, “Vegans seldom give passes to those with heads up their asses.”

What pains me most about his comments is that Usher is in a position where people listen to him.  I can only hope that what readers take from this is that he did indeed have his head up his ass when he said that since he is essentially bitching about having a personal chef on the payroll, a luxury most could not afford even temporarily. Unfortunately, the message I think some people will take away from this is that switching to a vegan diet is too expensive and it will be one more reason not to try it. They might not attribute it to Usher when someone asks why they wouldn’t consider it but through statements like this, messages such as, “It’s too expensive” and “It doesn’t taste good” get locked into our consciousness and become an automatic response over time, even if we can’t recall why. The idea gets added to the repertoire of ignorant justifications people use as an excuse to dismiss the idea of trying something positive and new.


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