Welcome to another installment of Shrimp & Grids, the column where we dissect the meals of Instagram’s most followed. Why would we subject ourselves to such scrolling? Because whether we like it or not, the influencer economy is shaping what we buy, wear, and eat. Let’s dig in!
Did you know that Kim Kardashian mostly eats a plant-based diet these days? I didn’t either. But now that the information is in my brain, it has to be in yours, too.
So just imagine, for a moment, how excited the Pizza Hut marketing execs were to ink a spon-con deal with Kim Kardashian. How good they felt about pairing their new plant-based item with this newly plant-based uber-celeb. The post could’ve cost them upwards of a million dollars, but no matter: it’s all worth it for the Kim K. clout. And then, on a grid of glossy swimsuit photos and idyllic baby shots, Kim posts this. Two blurry selfies with her kids, North and Saint, the latter of whom doesn’t appear to be aware of the camera’s existence. They are all in bed, maybe? There’s no clear story being told in this Beyond Meat/Pizza Hut sponsored post, I’ll tell you that much. (Although Kim didn’t include “#ad” in the caption. So who knows, maybe she just tagged those brands out of the goodness of her heart?)
Let’s talk about the first photo. She tagged @pizzahut and @beyondmeat, so I’m guessing she’s eating the new Beyond Italian Sausage Pizza (which fared just fine in our taste test!). It looks like she’s taken a bite out of the crust before eating the pizza part of the pizza, which to me seems deranged? Do people eat pizza like this? I find it hard to believe that people would even eat stuffed crust pizza like this, despite what Pizza Hut might claim. In the second photo, Kim is eating a slice with just tomato sauce and a hunk of faux meat. Fine.
Of course, it’s basically industry standard for celebrities to eat vegan-adjacent diets, or at the very least, erect incoherent, esoteric diet rules to retain their Hotness. But it’s striking to see that Beyond Meat doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Basically every fast-food restaurant has a plant-based meat dish on its menu. And now, one of the most influential members of TV’s most loved/hated family has given Beyond her blessing. (Just like Martha!)
Are we influenced? While I don’t think I’ll order Pizza Hut’s Beyond Meat pie anytime soon, I will say that while writing this post, I thought, “I really should try to sub out real meat with plant-based meat more often, for The Planet.” So color me influenced!
Here’s Massy Arias, a personal trainer and health coach with 2.7 million followers. Massy is emblematic of the modern wellness movement in a lot of ways. For instance, she uses language like “fitness” and “healthy diet” and “active lifestyle,” not “weight loss.” She believes fitness can create a whole and happy person (and she even credits her workout routine with curing her depression). She’s all about strength and empowerment. That’s why she posts before/after photo of clients of hers. Not to prove how much weight they’ve lost, but how empowered they are. So just because you’re the one envying her uber-jacked, thin body and thus associating strength and happiness and mental health with thinness—uh, that’s on you, man.
This week, Massy shared with her followers her (general) daily diet, which includes a whole lot of dietary supplements. In one day, Massy eats an “antioxidant smoothie,” creatine, BCAA powder (branched-chain amino acids), plant-based protein powder, and multi-vitamin. (This is all dispersed throughout the day; she eats actual foods like grapefruit and salad, too.) Interesting that Massy is all about these supplements! Let’s take a peek at her Instagram profile and—ah, yes, there we go, she’s the CEO of a dietary supplement company.
Once again: dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA. There’s no regulatory body to confirm exactly what is being sold to you in a tub of “BCAAs” (whatever the hell those are). Many vitamins don’t work in our bodies the same way once they’re extracted from plants and put into powder form. This is literally all marketing! Don’t fall for it! If you want to burn fat or build muscle or whatever, consult your doctor, not jacked thin people on Instagram showcasing their sculpted bodies as billboards for creatine! Okay, I need to go lie down after this one.
Are we influenced? Gotta be a hell no from me luv xx
Let’s end on a high note! Zach King is a total delight. He does what he calls “digital sleight of hand”—it really does look like video magic. Over the 2010s, he ran the social media gamut, starting on YouTube, then hopping to Vine (R.I.P.), then to Instagram and TikTok. He’s currently the fourth most-followed person on TikTok, with 57.8 million subscribers.
Zach recently posted a video captioned “Batter Up,” which I have watched at least 30 times. In it, Zach pulls a baseball bat out of a bowl of batter and hands it to a kid. Zach then throws him a batter-ball, the kid hits it, Zach catches the batter in his waffle iron, and voila! Instant waffles. Please watch it, and then lose the next half-hour or so of your life to Zach’s other videos. I really have nothing else to say about this food-wise. Zach is great! Movie magic is great! Waffles are great!
Are we influenced? I don’t think the point of this video is to influence people to eat more waffles. But still, I could basically smell the fresh-cooked waffles emanating from my phone. Influenced!