By Maya El-Moussaoui
The I’m A Celebrity issue started when contestants Fleur East, James McVey and Sair Khan were reported to be vegans before the airing of the show, but were seen eating dairy or meat throughout the show.
Fleur East made a statement, after the episode of her eating Emu aired, clarifying that she is not vegan and has eaten plant based in the past for health reason. James McVey has also clarified that he is a strict vegetarian and was never seen eating meat during the show. The fact that these contenders were deliberately type casted as vegan was definitely used for media excitement.
Linking anything controversial with the word vegan inevitably gets more attention. The vegan trend has quadrupled in the past five years, according to Google Trend, and has even surpassed searches for vegetarianism and gluten free. The addition of celebrities labelled as vegans could have been a clever decision to tailor to new audiences, but instead was used just for the publicity.
These celebrities all never knew that they were being labelled as vegans and have had to clarify themselves due to the media frenzy. There have been contestants in the past that identified as vegetarian, like DJ Tony Blackburn and Uri Geller in 2002. The public voted Geller to eat maggots one week, but Blackburn said that he would lose all respect for him if he followed through.
However, Blackburn refused to eat bugs yet won the season. This year’s contestants gave up their diets in the first 48 hours, so it was obviously used for the hype, as they did not show any hesitation in doing so. The premise of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here as a whole does not align with vegan ideologies anyway. The show has been criticised for its use and exploitation of animals. Therefore any true vegan joining the show would potentially be trivialising the movement by profiting from an unethical show.