The new Netflix documentary series Cheer is totally worth the hype. The show develops a whole cast of characters, including cheerleader/influencer Gabi Butler and her overbearing stage parents, determined to wring every possible dollar out of their daughter’s outsized social media following. At one point, Gabi’s mom, Debbie, suggests that instead of eating an egg (as in, one egg), Gabi curb her appetite with jackfruit. “If you eat jackfruit, that can actually hold your stomach for 10 to 12 hours with no other food,” Debbie says over the phone. Which raises a question: Uh, what the utter hell is jackfruit?
Jackfruit has increased popularity over the past five years as a vegan meat substitute. It’s a big, green, roundish, spiky fruit. It’s native to India and also grows in southeast Asia, South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Due to the fruit’s “flesh-like” texture and its tofu-like knack for soaking up whatever flavors it’s cooked in, jackfruit (allegedly) makes an excellent sub for pulled pork and taco meat. Angela Means, owner of the vegan Jackfruit Café in Santa Monica, California, swears by the stuff. “You wouldn’t miss anything,” she told the Associated Press. “We could give you our taco and you wouldn’t even know it’s vegan.” She predicts jackfruit will be as popular as beef by 2030, which... maybe in Santa Monica, Angela.
Also, let’s be clear: Jackfruit might be a good meat substitute, but it’s not an “all other food” substitute. Allison Childress, a nutritionist at Texas Tech, told InStyle that jackfruit absolutely doesn’t curb your appetite for half a day, nor should it be consumed in pursuit of that goal. Alright, I’ve officially ticked one item off my laundry list of things I need to say to Debbie Butler.