Jay Z celebrated his 44th birthday last week by declaring that he and Beyoncé were going to attempt a 22-day vegan diet. Jigga announced the news on his Life + Times blog, saying, "On December 3rd, one day before my 44th birthday, I will embark on a 22 days challenge to go completely vegan, or as I prefer to call it plant-based!"
The rap mogul's physical cleanse might be a little more testing than he thought though — at least if his lyrics and prior declarations of enjoying the gourmand life are anything to go by. Here's a roundup of 17 foods that Jay and Bey are going to have to keep off the table.
1. Four Seasons Brunch
On "Song Cry" from The Blueprint album, Jay Z rapped on record about enjoying a lavish brunch at the Four Seasons. But these days, the idea of chowing down on luxurious eggs benedict is more likely to be replaced by the quick hit of a gluten-free puffed-cereal bar.
2. Turkey Bacon
We never suspected Jay hankered for such low-brow pleasures of turkey-bacon until he threw the snack into "Picasso Baby." He added how he loves nothing more than to "smell the aroma" while it cooks — although it's a whiff he'll be without until his vegan phrase is through.
3. Clam Linguine
When it comes to dining Italian, Jay is a staunch advocate of a classic linguine and clam combination. He revealed this to the world when asked about his favorite pasta dish by comedian Aziz Ansari earlier in the year. For now though, he'll need to put the carb-comfort dish out of his mind and plump for egg-free pasta and switch out the seafood.
4. Cheddar Cheese
"I check cheddar like a food inspector," announced Jigga on "Public Service Announcement (Interlude)." We salute the rap mogul's appreciation of modern health and safety practices, but he'll need to securely lock up that platter of five-year-aged gruyere until his 22 day challenge is over.
5. Vanilla Wafers
Was a young Shawn Carter's go-to boyhood snack a box of vanilla wafers? The song "Holy Grail" suggests it might be, as he brags (not entirely in food-terms) about, "Living the life, vanilla wafers." Next time he wants to satiate his childhood sugar fix he'll need to avoid the usual big brands and search out a fancy milk-free version. Possibly with a puzzle to color in on the back of the box.
Jay Z's vault is filled with references to sipping vino, whether it's the boast that he "piss Bordeaux and Burgundies, flush out a Riesling" on "Tom Ford" or his early declaration that he likes to "sip fine wines and spit vintage flows" (in expensive clothes, naturally). These days though when he settles down with Bey over a bottle at the end of the day he'll need to be a label hawk as most wines are filtered using animal and dairy-related products.
7. "Lobster And Scrimp"
On his 1998 team-up with super-producer Timbaland, Jay flaunted something of a seafoodetarian-leaning diet based around the taste sensation of lobster and, as he put it, scrimp. The Carter family lobster bibs are staying stashed away these days though — and let's not start salivating over the dish's usual accompaniment of hot melted butter.
8. Beijing Duck
Tribeca's Mr. Chow's has cultivated a reputation as a trendy eatery. Its Beijing-based fare is unlikely to hit Jigga's food ethics these days though, particularly the signature dish of Beijing duck.
The song "Heaven" has Jay Z comparing the color of his Lamborghini Diablo to the shade of yellow Jell-O. Bad move — the gelatin clashes with his new-found vegan spirituality.
10. The Pig
Jay Z is a part-owner of the Spotted Pig restaurant in Manhattan. He'll want to maintain a self-imposed exile from the spot though as its menu staples include chicken liver toast, prosciutto and ricotta tarts, and a wickedly un-vegan-sounding crispy pig's ear salad.
11. Ice Cream
When Jigga feels personally slighted, it seems he likes nothing more than to rush home and cuddle up with a big bowl of ice cream. As with his other sweet-tooth picks, it's a comfort eating staple that he'll have to learn to survive without.
Jay relayed some sagely advice on the Magna Carta Holy Grail album track "F.U.T.W." when he began his verse by stating, "Don't be good my nigga, be great/ After that government cheese we eat steak." Kudos to those moving on up in the world, but neither the dairy nor the cow will be on Jigga's menu for the near future.
13. Wings and Sliders
Jay's gastro portfolio also includes the 40/40 Club sports bar in Manhattan and at the Barclays Center. It's off bounds due to a menu hooked around a smorgasbord of wings and sliders.
14. The Golden Arches
"Empire State Of Mind" details a McDonald's franchise uptown in Manhattan on Broadway. (It's speculated that it's the branch on 145th Street.) While Jay might not be referencing the spot for its menu, he'd do well to avoid a fast food fix due to the proliferation of animal oils used in flipping and frying that Golden Arches product.
"Who be, in a Japanese restaurant eating sushi, drinking saki?" asked Jay on "Sunshine (Always Be My)." It's a question he won't be phrasing again anytime soon — unless he wants to sink to the depths of the hum-drum veggie roll scene.
Jigga's Reasonable Doubt classic "Can I Live" includes the charming claim that back in his drug-peddling days he'd seen "brains was fried to fricassee." Traditionally, the fricassee method of cooking involves sautÃ©ing and braising meat in a sauce. It's not considered a vegan classic of the pantry.
17. Caramelized Beef Tenderloin
During the making of Watch the Throne with Kanye West, it's rumored that the duo rented out an entire floor of the Mercer hotel for creative purposes. The spot's own restaurant has a menu that contains the possibly tantalizing but definitely vegan-unfriendly dish of caramelized beef tenderloin. Maybe in the new year, Jay?