Just over a month ago, Jay-Z took to his blog to announce that he and Beyoncé would be embarking on a 22-day plant-based challenge. The all around icon, hitherto rarely really scrutinized for what he was ingesting, referred curious readers to his “friend Marco,” as in Marco Borges,* Jay’s longtime exercise physiologist and, more recently, vegan nutrition coach. Borges, Jay offered fans, could “explain the benefits of a plant-based diet.”
Borges—who has worked with the likes of Pharrell Williams, Ryan Seacrest, Shakira and Sean Combs, among others—adopted and readily advocates a plant-powered lifestyle after educating himself about how what we eat impacts our overall health. Rigorous research and evidence via personal transformation confirmed for Borges that a diet rich in plants and scarce in (or even entirely devoid of) animal and processed products was optimal for human health. And not just celebrities…anyone and everyone!
While Jay and Bey ultimately abandoned their ethical eating streak, caving to the lure of seafood at a Miami hot spot, their conscientious consumption for at least a few weeks is worth not only noting, but also applauding. What’s more, without Borges’ support, the power couple would likely never have any idea how turnkey—and delicious—such a life-saving shift can be, for famous and average Americans alike. And, according to Borges’ one-on-one with Cosmo, “They love[d] it!”
Read on for a few words with Borges who, despite witnessing two of his most widely admired clients fall off the wagon, stands steadfast by the virtues of clean vegan cuisine.
Ecorazzi: So, first and foremost, why 22 days?
Marco Borges: Anyone can do this for three weeks! You’re allowing them to learn. That’s all it really is. Empower people with knowledge and tools to bring about healthy change that’s sustainable and they’re more likely to stick to it. They’ll never forget again. And, when you feel great about yourself, as most people do when they succeed at something, you’re more likely to have a positive outlook on what you can do. If you think you can, you can. And, if you think you can’t, you can’t.
Ecorazzi: What was their attitude at the outset?
Marco Borges: They were very open. They were excited about the challenge. As a matter of fact, we had a conversation [several days in]: “I haven’t missed anything at all,” was what they had to say. “I haven’t missed a single thing.”
Ecorazzi: But, back to the flesh they eventually went. Anyway, is there anything they were surprised by?
Marco Borges: That they [weren’t] hungry. When you eat plant-based foods, you tend to eat more, because plants aren’t as calorically dense as animal products. You feel much more satiated, and stay satiated longer, because you can eat more and because the food itself is more nutrient dense.
Ecorazzi: Even though it’s finished and they’ve since returned to eating toxic “foods,” what was it like coaching them through this?
Marco Borges: A wonderful experience all around. I’m eternally grateful. It’s shed such a beautiful light on plant-based living. This is the greatest thing in the world. As Maya Angelou says, “When you know better, you do better.”
Ecorazzi: Would you encourage anyone to try a plant-based diet?
Marco Borges: Absolutely, without a doubt. There are so many benefits. There’s too much evidence for people to ignore the fact that a plant-based diet is better for us. And there’s so much material out there! It’s fascinating. Most people have so many options in their own surroundings, they’re just not aware because they haven’t explored. But, once you explore, you realize what a beautiful opportunity it is to treat yourself to really great foods that make you feel amazing.
Ecorazzi: Any recommended resources?
Marco Borges: Dr. Neal Barnard’s “21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart” is fantastic; I love Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”; Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study” is fabulous; and the film “Forks Over Knives” is incredible.
Ecorazzi: Could a vegan diet ever be unsafe?
Marco Borges: Potato chips are acceptable in the vegan diet. So, if you eat potato chips for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you won’t be very healthy. But, reckless abandon in any diet isn’t healthy. It takes a bit of understanding and education, but the tools are there. PCRM and their 21-Day Kickstart meal plan program are really great at holding your hand through the process.
Ecorazzi: Okay, so go vegan and you’re automatically invincible?
Marco Borges: There is no guarantee, no matter what diet you’re on, that you’re going to live to be 200. There just isn’t. Things happen. Health is extremely dynamic. But, what you can do is better your odds based on what you put into your body.
* In addition to his LA-based private practice, the 41-year-old father of three is also a member of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)—the national nonprofit promoting disease prevention through good nutrition—operating as nutrition coach to participants of their 21-Day Kickstart meal plan program.
Chef Marco Says Jay-Z and Beyonce ‘Love’ Vegan Diet
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