Jaden Smith’s nutrition and fitness journey could be a cautionary tale for Black vegans
Jaden Smith has been diligently on a path to wellness.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Smith shared an older photo of himself with pink hair and a thinner physique alongside a recent photo sporting locs in his natural hair color and muscles, as Smith alluded to the fact that his body has been changing.
“Haters will post the one on the left and ignore the one on the right,” he wrote, adding, “Like, damn can a man have his phases.”
Smith has been on a wellness and fitness journey since at least 2019, when his mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, shared on her show “Red Table Talk” that she and his father, Will Smith, had become concerned with their son’s weight and diet.
“Will and I had a bit of an intervention with Jaden because he’s a vegan now, but we realized he wasn’t getting enough protein,” the actress explained. “He was wasting away. He just looked drained, he was just depleted, he wasn’t getting the nutrients.”
His father said, “He had the dark circles under his eyes; there was even a little grayness to his skin. We got really nervous, but you are definitely looking better now.”
During an update episode of “Red Table Talk” in 2021, Smith gave a positive progress report.
“I was able to work with the doctors and really get my vitamins and get my supplements and protein shakes,” he said. “That’s half of my diet. It’s like a password that I have to find to my body. I’m like, 10 lbs. heavier now at this point.”
In the episode, Smith added he was taking the time to work out and build muscle. While looking at older photos of himself, he noted how far he’s come since his leaner days.
“That was a long way from where I was when I was at Coachella, where I just was like, bones,” he said. “I thought I was so tight. I was like, ‘This. I’m swagging on this. Like, I need to take off my shirt right now.’ ”
Smith isn’t alone in running into nutritional trouble while going vegan. According to a survey by the Health and Food Supplements Information Service, 28 percent of vegans and 13 percent of vegetarians reported being diagnosed with a nutrient deficiency of some kind.
While a vegetarian will generally just refrain from eating meat, in order to maintain a vegan diet, a person typically removes all animal products from their diet, including dairy. Given how restrictive a vegan or vegetarian diet is, HSIS reported that many people end up removing entire food groups without proper research or planning.
Smith’s reminder that vegan and vegetarian diets can become unhealthy if you’re not careful comes at a time when Black Americans are identifying as vegan at higher rates than the rest of the country. According to a survey by Pew Research, 8 percent of Black Americans identify as vegan compared to 3.4 percent of the rest of the country.
With the rise of Black veganism has come the rise of Black vegan gurus and influencers sharing tips and advice they’ve learned along the way. Founder of the vegan restaurant chain Slutty Vegan, Pinky Cole, recently told Yahoo Life that today going vegan “is really easy.” She also emphasized that anyone just starting out should focus first on vegan foods they enjoy and continue to adjust.
“Pace yourself,” she said.