Strict celebrity diets are often almost as famous as the celebrities who follow them. Rumors about the Like a Prayer singer and pop culture icon, Madonna, being a vegan seem quite prevalent, but are they true?
Madonna isn’t vegan, however, she follows a macrobiotic diet, which is similar to a vegan diet in some ways. Madonna is a fitness freak; her regimes are notoriously draconian, and she even owns a few gyms in certain cities! The pop mogul is clearly on to something, given how amazing she looks in her senior years.
Read on to learn more about the macrobiotic lifestyle; and how Madonna feels about hers.
What exactly is a Macrobiotic Diet?
The macrobiotic diet finds its roots in ancient Japanese culture and was popularized in the West during the 1960s. It was immensely popular during the 80s; a time when Madonna herself was, coincidentally, beginning to gain popularity as well. Michio Kushi of the Kushi Institution is widely credited for the commercial popularisation of this diet, and the Kushi Institution even trains macro chefs for hire.
Macrobiotic foods are mostly whole foods; the philosophy behind this diet encourages a natural way of eating as a means to a better lifestyle overall, both in a mental and physical sense. This is similar to vegetarianism and veganism in that it discourages the consumption of many animal-based products. Eggs, dairy, and most forms of meat are prohibited; as is wheat, but some kinds of fish are allowed, which is why this diet resembles pescetarianism more closely than it does veganism. The macrobiotic diet may also be compared to the paleo diet; both of which emphasize a natural diet. However, paleo includes meat in some forms.
“In the macrobiotic kitchen we are focused on local, seasonal and balanced food, it’s like yin and yang. We say it’s whole food,” says Mayumi Nishimura, Madonna’s former private macro chef.
Additionally, those on this diet must avoid refined and sugary foods, and focus more on vegetables and so on. Asian ‘sea’ vegetables, such as seaweed and Daikon, also form an important part of this diet. Caffeine and alcohol are not allowed as well. Yikes, sounds tough!
How did Madonna Discover the Macrobiotic Lifestyle?
Madonna was first introduced to the macrobiotic lifestyle by her (now ex) husband, Guy Ritchie. Ritchie and Madonna married in 2000, and have a son, Rocco, together. They split in 2008.
Nishimura met Madonna when Rocco was merely nine months old, and Lourdes, Madonna’s daughter from a previous marriage, was about five years old. She became a part of Madonna’s tour entourage soon after. Invited by Ritchie himself, Nishimura says she had him teach her how to adjust her cooking to a more Western-style as well. She hadn’t been used to cooking meat either before Ritchie insisted that some of it be added to his diet.
There has been quite a bit of controversy in the public eye as far as Madonna’s dietary history is concerned. She was not always a macro supporter. Madonna was a vegetarian through most of the 80s and 90s (some say even before that), but in 1996, she announced that she was no longer a vegetarian since she was pregnant with Lourdes. In his 1991 book, Madonna, Andrew Morton wrote, “She’s reinventing herself as an upper-class, English aristocrat; the former vegetarian who now goes hunting, fishing, and shooting.”
In 2005, Madonna claimed to have given up shooting animals. It had been around 2000 that Ritchie had introduced her to the macro diet, but at the time many fans thought she was simply a pescatarian. However, animal rights groups have also protested against her on certain occasions, such as in 2006 when she wore a fur coat made ‘from the skins of 40 chinchillas.’ The International Vegetarian Union has also criticized her as being ‘confused.’
How Does She Feel About This Regime?
Madonna clearly loves and appreciates her macrobiotic diet. If you are a fan and have seen her perform, you may have noticed how she seems more energetic and agile compared to dancers half her age, even! This is all thanks to her holistic approach to health and wellness; macrobiotic food being a mere part of which.
Nishimura, who still cooks for Madonna when her regular chef is on vacation and often accompanies her on tour as well, says that Madonna enjoys her macro diet. She usually eats soup and vegetables as a starter and main respectively, and her favorites include avocado rolls and quinoa. Madonna also likes fruits, Nishimura adds, but she prefers seasonal and local fruits over tropical ones.
Nishimura has also written a cookbook called Mayumi’s Kitchen: Macrobiotic Cooking for Body and Soul, in which she details the meals she used to cook for and serve to not only Madonna but her team of dancers as well. Madonna herself wrote the foreword for this book.
Madonna’s workout regimes are as complex, and some would say as tough, as her diet; so it is no surprise that she enjoys said diet. Madonna works out six days a week; two hours a day.
She practices a diverse set of exercises, including yoga or Pilates; cardio like running, jogging, or swimming; and less conventional activities like horseback riding.
Additionally, Madonna uses resistance and circuit training. On her ‘days off’ she prefers low-intensity exercises, like long walks. Madonna is even credited with popularising a certain form of yoga called Ashtanga, which is an older form of yoga that has influenced many popular styles of yoga taught today.
How Have Fans Reacted to this Lifestyle?
Many celebrities like Scarlett Johansson and Gwyneth Paltrow follow, and praise, the macrobiotic diet, so Madonna is not alone in doing so. Madonna’s fan base has always been supportive of her lifestyle choices, and some even go so far as to emulate it! Rebecca Harrington of the New Yorker, for instance, tried out Madonna’s diet to the last detail for a week and so, and concluded that it was tough, but that “Madonna is a feminist revolutionary and it’s hard to be on a revolutionary’s diet.”