She has admitted that she isn’t “someone who can go crazy,” that she usually has “cereal for breakfast and a salad for lunch and a light dinner,” and that on Sundays “allows” herself to have “whatever I want,” usually “pizza.” From her hospitality rider, it’s clear that she enjoys smoothies. But she’s never gotten more specific than that.
The program appealed to the part of me that wishes Soylent wasn’t so gross, because it sounds so convenient.
The rare exception came when, in 2013, Beyoncé and husband Jay Z decided to go vegan for 22 days for Jay’s 44th birthday. Why 22 days? Because, according to Marco Borges, the couple’s personal trainer, “It takes 21 days to make or break a habit and on the 22nd day you’ve found the way.” Borges since founded his own company, 22 Days Nutrition, selling things like Goji Mate Firecracker energy bars and chocolate plant-based protein powder. He’s Beyoncé’s partner in the vegan meal plan.
The program appealed to the part of me that wishes Soylent wasn’t so gross, because it sounds so convenient. It also played right into my celebrity obsession, which in no particular order includes the Olsen twins’ skincare choices, Scott Disick’s cloudy past, the seeming ease at which Kourtney Kardashian births babies, everything Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wears, and the holistic practioners Gwyneth frequents. Other celebrities share these sort of details, Beyoncé doesn’t. This seemed like a rare move for her, and I was curious to see how it was executed.
22 Days’ plan seemed too good to be true. The meals, delivered fresh once a week, are organic; low in fat, salt and sugar; gluten-free; soy-free; and entirely vegan. There are no preservatives or unpronounceables on the labels. Three plans are offered: one meal per day (lunch or dinner), two meals per day (lunch and dinner), or the whole vegan enchilada (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). 22 Days delivers anywhere within the United States; your week of meals is timed to always arrive on a Friday before 5pm.
And the pricing is great. For a seven days at two meals per day, 22 Days was charging $161 (plus shipping). Competitors in the space such as Sakara Life charge $285 for five days of organic lunch and dinner meal delivery. “Farm to table” meal delivery program Paleta costs around $266 for lunch and dinner for a full week (with each meal priced a la carte at $19). 22 Days seemed like a bargain in comparison.
That the meals arrive all at once, and not multiple times per week, explains some of the savings. My week came in an oversize cardboard box straight from Chino Hills, California. Within, meals were nestled in a recyclable plastic cooler between reusable ice packs. I had 14 meals to plow through; 22 Days also threw in a bonus Pineapple Chocolate Chip Wonder bar. Each meal was packaged in a BPA-free, microwavable plastic tray (also recyclable), but 22 Days encourages clients to take the food out of the container and heat on the stove, or in an oven.
This kind of eating does not come as a shock to me.
The first 22 Days meal I enjoyed was Sicilian Sun Dried Tomato and Cauliflower pasta. Just like Nonna used to make back in the homeland. It didn’t look like too much in the plastic container, but after dutifully scraping it into an oven-safe pan to heat for about 20 minutes, I devoured it. If you are the type to police ingredient lists, you’ll be pleased to know that this one was carefully considered and free of all the cheap culinary crutches commonly used to boost taste and cut cost. My Sicilian pasta was comprised of brown rice pasta, tomato paste, cauliflower, kale, zucchini, eggplant, sundried tomatoes, oregano, thyme, granulated garlic, onion, parsley, paprika, sweet basil, nutritional yeast, garlic, sea salt, and black pepper—all organic. It was quite delicious.
This kind of eating does not come as a shock to me. This is not one of those, “I can’t believe I survived it” stories. I sit squarely in the bullseye of 22 Days’ target audience, having spent years (on and off) vegan, and having done real time on a Gwyneth-approved elimination diet. 22 Days’ meals didn’t feel like deprivation to me, but as someone with a healthy appetite, I found it took approximately one-and-a-half Beyoncé meals to fully sate me. Twice, I ate two in a row and both times, it was a mistake.
If you have trouble with legumes, you might want to steer clear of this program. Many meals leaned heavily on lentils or beans; none were lacking in fiber. Each had a distinctly “scratch-made” feel to it—not, of course, by Guy Fieri’s definition. These were meals that you’d construct on a Sunday, in a huge vat, and then parcel out during the week. That is, if you had the time and energy, if you weren’t trying to power through life as a boss lady trying to “run this motha.”
Because oil and salt are scant, 22 Days thoughtfully contributes savoriness through things like ginger, coconut aminos, paprika, turmeric, cumin, and nutritional yeast. That I added salt to almost every dish, like a real cheater, has less to do with the quality of the flavor profiles and more to do with my own daily overuse.
I felt actual sadness when I unwrapped the last two offerings, Cozy Winter Squash Quinoa and Trios Mec Mushroom Lentils.
The food didn’t come with much instruction, aside from basic heating information. A welcome letter included with the delivery explained that you can “create the combination that works best for you.” There was also a little pamphlet with an illustrated “vegan challenge workout” that consists of cardio, squats, burpees, push-ups, reverse dips, planks, and side planks.
I had timed my meal week to a particularly stressful period at work. We were relaunching our website, and I knew I would have less time than usual to devote to foraging for lunch in midtown Manhattan. Some people might choose a program like 22 Days for weight loss, or for “cleansing,” but I found it was mostly an amazing convenience. I genuinely enjoyed my meals—so much so that I felt actual sadness when I unwrapped the last two offerings, Cozy Winter Squash Quinoa and Trios Mec Mushroom Lentils.
“Beyoncé wouldn’t attach her name to anything sub-par,” my husband weighed in as he sampled my lentils. I have to agree. For someone as controlling of her image as she is, I don’t imagine she would sign off on just any meal delivery service. (Insert “Flawless” joke here.)
Beyoncé, like all humans, is aging. She probably doesn’t want to tour forever. And while she’s already made plenty of money, I assume she’s considering back-up revenue streams to eventually replace performing. In other words, while 22 Days is convenient for us, the consumers, it’s also presumably convenient for her, too. If this is indeed the first step in her development of a Goop-like lifestyle empire, I’m on board. Until then, I’ll humbly accept this offering of quinoa, vegetables, lentils, and rice pasta.
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