Robert De Niro has been known to go to extremes in preparing for his acting performances, including losing and gaining weight. What do we know about De Niro’s diet and is the legendary actor vegan?
There is very little information available regarding Robert De Niro’s diet. His personal chef during a visit in the UK did share some of what he cooked for the actor. These choices at least let us know that De Niro eats meat and is thus not vegan or vegetarian.
For more on Robert De Niro’s eating habits and his extreme diets for roles, read on.
De Niro’s Food
While there aren’t many reliable sources that tell us what Robert De Niro does and does not eat, there are some recent and older pieces of information that at least give some idea.
During a 2018 visit to the UK, De Niro stayed in the county of Yorkshire, where he gave a talk about his incredible acting career. His stay included a visit to Halifax, where he dined at “Ricci’s”, a local Italian restaurant (a regional cuisine he is very well versed in).
Throughout his stay, he had his breakfast and lunch cooked by Eric Paxman, a burger-joint owner who had previously cooked for (and presumably been recommended by) Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Paxman was responsible for making two breakfasts and lunches, as well as one dinner, for De Niro. Paxman also said De Niro was fantastic, reserved, quiet, and very friendly.
De Niro’s meals were as follows. On day one, his breakfast was sausage and mustard, followed by a chicken salad for lunch and seabass for dinner. On day two, he ate toast for breakfast and had a plain salad for lunch.
These meals are some of the only solid evidence we have of De Niro’s eating habits and serve as proof that the Hollywood icon is neither vegan nor vegetarian.
De Niro has said that his role as legendary Italian-American boxer Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull” was the most difficult of his long career in film. The actor endured extensive boxing training, working with a number of people including LaMotta himself.
De Niro says that, although boxing sparring was difficult in general, it was mostly safe and the participants wore protective gear. Working with LaMotta was a different story.
Although the former middleweight champion was 55, he encouraged De Niro to hit him as hard as he could and proved that he hadn’t grown out of his legendary chin.
Learning to box wasn’t the only significant challenge De Niro faced in preparing for his portrayal of LaMotta. After being offered the role by Martin Scorcese, De Niro was initially reluctant.
This changed when he saw LaMotta walking the streets of New York and noticed how much weight he had gained since his boxing days. The two extremes of being in fighting shape and heavily overweight and the contrast between them appealed to De Niro.
The challenge of replicating this, albeit in a much smaller window of time than the real LaMotta, was part of the actor’s motivation for taking the role. De Niro ate unhealthily and frequently, gaining about 60 pounds in order to portray an older LaMotta at the beginning and end of “Raging Bull”.
In order to gain the weight, De Niro traveled to his great grandparents’ home country of Italy, a country he was now familiar with, having made a couple of films there.
His familiarity meant he knew many of the best pasta restaurants and would eat in them multiple times a day, consuming as much carbohydrate as he could, gaining his 60 pounds in about four months.
Scorcese was worried about De Niro’s health but they completed the film and De Niro was able to work his way back to a healthier weight.