Jessica Chastain has been a vegan for 14 years & she fasts one day a week

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Jessica Chastain covers the January/February cover of Shape to promote the many projects she’s got coming out this year, including The Forgiven, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (where she plays Tammy Faye Bakker) and The 355, the international lady-spy film she put together several years ago. In this interview, she mostly talks about what she’s doing during the pandemic and her career goals – you can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

She spent a lot of quarantine time at home with her family: “It was great because my grandma was with me, and I got to spend time with my family. My mom has been with us a lot too. But I miss my girlfriends so much. I miss going out to dinner, just the girls. I miss getting a cocktail, sharing secrets, and getting advice from everyone. I’ve really been missing that sense of community.”

She did workouts with her grandma: “During quarantine, I did [trainer] Isaac Boots’ Torch’d workouts with my grandmother, who is in her 80s. It was such a breath of sanity during that time to do it every morning with my grandma. And she really helped me be accountable.

She’s a vegan: “I became a vegan about 14 years ago. At the time, I was very low energy, and I remember getting sick. I was making one of my first films, in which I had to play different ages of the character’s life, and I wanted to change my body accordingly. So I would gain weight and then lose it really quickly. After that, my body was wrecked. A friend said, ‘You should try this two-week vegan raw-food diet.’ I hated it. The first week, I was so miserable. But by the second week, I had so much energy. When the two weeks were over, I was like, I’m done! I went to a restaurant and ordered risotto and fish. And that night, I felt sick again. I decided that my body was clearly telling me the way it wanted me to eat. I was raw vegan for about nine months. Now I’m just vegan.

She loves to cook: “I love to cook — so much that I went to the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York in 2012 and took the intensive chef-training program. In the winter I like to make soups and stews and anything roasted. I’m also really into food as medicine. Licorice root tea is my jam during COVID-19, because licorice is really good for your immune system.”

She fasts one day a week: “I don’t want anyone to misinterpret this or do anything that’s unhealthy for them, but it’s really important for me to fast one day a week. I do a green-juice fast every Monday. I like to start my week in a quiet place, listening to what’s going on with my mind. It’s a sense of giving myself a moment to be clear and allowing my body to reset. It helps me start the week.”

Why she chooses to do certain films: “That’s something I’ve thought about in terms of movies I’ve done, like Interstellar, playing the physicist who solves the equation of gravity. Or The Martian, where I was the commander of the mission to Mars. Those images of women in media are incredibly important to me. In the last five years or so, I’ve asked myself, ‘What am I choosing? Am I showing women in a light that is different from what has been shown? How can I move the conversation forward?’ I was doing it in particular for young girls. But it’s important to do it for young boys as well. Because boys and men should be comfortable seeing women in these roles. Otherwise, we’re denying them the realization that the feminine is powerful and strong.”

[From Shape]

I think, realistically, I could probably fast for a day or do a juice cleanse for a day, but that day could never be MONDAY. Monday, the start of the work week, when everything feels a little bit “off,” when your computer crashes or there’s some technical problem somewhere or everything just feels slower. No. Mondays are when you need to self-soothe with caffeine, carbs and sugar, whatever gets you through. I could fast on, like, a Wednesday or Thursday though. As for Jessica’s veganism… I couldn’t do it but God bless. I don’t get how two weeks of veganism meant that she was suddenly super-sick when she ate a piece of fish, but vegans always have stories like that.

Cover & IG courtesy of Shape.

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63 Responses to “Jessica Chastain has been a vegan for 14 years & she fasts one day a week”

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  1. AndaPanda says:

    I find that it takes about 2-3 weeks for most people’s bodies to adjust to new foods and involuntarily reject junk. This is purely anecdotal but it happened to me as well. Also she seems a bit meh

    • Lolo says:

      Since when is fish ‘junk’?

      • Nouri says:

        I love fish and eat lots of junk like farmed salmon and Thai prawns however honestly with the state of the oceans and the antibiotics in farmed seafood it can’t really be regarded as a great food. Yes it’s lean protein, in theory it’s a better choice than bacon, but there’s issues with toxins like mercury and other random bad chemicals. Also, it’s obviously not compatible with a vegan or vegetarian diet.

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        Many foods and products have better PR marketing than salmon. Levels of heavy metals, antibiotics etc… are in many foods that can get away with claiming otherwise, but salmon will get a heavier association and be considered “junk?” Oh well.

        If your body is healthy and organs are functioning well some farmed salmon here and there will not break you down.

      • Mel says:

        I think I see what she means. I have to be very vigilant with what I eat because I tend to gain weight easily because of thyroid issues but anyways, after years of mainly eating lean proteins I almost always get sick whenever I eat salmon. And I LOOOVE salmon but my body tolerates it less and less…I think she used « junk » as in her body has a hard time with it.

      • Virtuosity says:

        I follow various ocean-focused conservation groups (The Ocean Cleanup, Ocean Conservation Namibia, etc) and it’s heartbreaking to see what fishing is doing to our seas. Not just the disgusting plastic rubbish but the poor innocent seals and turtles getting shocking physical injuries from fishing gear and rubbish or getting caught in netting and dying slow, painful deaths. There was a young, beautiful girl seal who had grown for months with this line around her body and flipper. In addition to the injury around her neck, she had a cut through her flipper that measured 1/3 of the flipper. When they cut off the fishing line, she leaned only on her good flipper. Heartbreaking.
        Also farm fish like salmon are fed fish meal made from wild fish so also contributing to the problem. I love fish but I don’t eat it very often – only when I can’t control myself or it’s served to me at some function. Generally I’m low animal products for the environmental factor (will be first to try EatJust chicken nuggets and other cellular meats when it’s approved for my country) and I avoid dairy because baby cows and cow mamas are beautiful and should be left alone. Cellular meats and fish – trust me, they’re coming everywhere and will be decent if not perfect replacement – will likely save us so remember to choose them when available.

  2. Esmom says:

    I am questioning the choices of Shape’s photo editor. What a bizarre cover pose especially. And the styling does her no favors.

    As an almost vegan for nearly 20 years (I still eat an occasional bite of cheese or greek yogurt), I can’t imagine fasting one day a week. I would be weak and shaky.

    • Darla says:

      That’s how I eat Esmom. But I eat greek yogurt more than occasionally. One of my favorite lunches is lemon greek yogurt with fresh raspberries. So good. I can’t fast either, I shake.

      • Esmom says:

        Darla, Are you me? Lemon is my favorite but not always easy to find, so I mix lemon curd into plain greek yogurt. And raspberries are my go-to fruit, always, but especially with lemon.

      • Darla says:

        LOL That’s funny!

    • Still_Sarah says:

      @ Esmom : I’m not someone who knows much about makeup but the styling on the cover caught my eye – in a bad way. It’s like the makeup is natural look but the lipstick 💄 isn’t, so it doesn’t work.

    • Lucy2 says:

      That cover photo is very odd. Maybe she declined to do their usual bikini shot, and they didn’t know what to do with her?

  3. dogmom says:

    I went vegan two years ago after being lacto-ovo vegetarian for 30 years. A few months after making the transition, my gym used whey powder instead of soy in my protein shake. My stomach was upset all afternoon! After that I watched the front desk guys like a hawk when they would make my shakes. Anyway good for her, fasting once a week, but I really doubt I could do that! The idea of a green juice fast sounds great, but in practice at 8pm I’d probably be eating all the bagels in the house.

    • Still_Sarah says:

      @dogmom : I spent many years as a vegetarian. When I would eat meat at someone’s house, I wouldn’t get sick per se but I would get stomach pains as my body wasn’t used to it.

  4. Ellie says:

    I went vegan between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year when the meal plan I subscribe to started offering that as an option. I didn’t find It that difficult, there were actually lots of options – it would probably be another story if I were going out with friends to restaurants during that time period. My energy levels were OK not great, I took b12 and iron. But holy cats it wrecked my skin. It was both dry and breaking out all at once and none of my usuals products worked. After Christmas, where I ate whatever festive food I wanted and didn’t get sick, I decided it was probably a better choice for me to eat flexitarian with lots of fresh veggies instead. My skin bounced back immediately.

    • Darla says:

      I really think everyone is so different and there is no one-size solves all when it comes to how we eat. That’s why I never preach.

      • Jane Smith says:

        @Darla, 100% agree. Thank you for being open-minded.

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        Yes! And some people don’t have access to or can’t afford these lifestyles. Or their bodies just don’t respond to it because there’s no 1 right way to nourish yourself.

        I fast 5 days a week. I eat meat, fish, eggs and lean heavily towards veggies. I tried vegan and my whole body felt weak. Teeth, muscles, skin all suffered. I was lacking in a lot of vitamins and didn’t like taking so many supplements.

        A lot of eating lifestyles work in theory, but shouldn’t be applied to all.

      • Bread and Circuses says:

        Yes! I know someone who have tried really hard to be vegetarian because she cares about animals, but she just kept getting colds and flus and not feeling very strong or healthy, even though she was careful about nutrients. She added fish back into her diet and that solved it.

        Everyone’s body is different; some people will thrive on vegetarian or vegan diets, and it’ll be a revelation to them how much better they feel. And others just won’t manage well at all.

    • Ines says:

      How interesting. I went vegan some 5 months ago, and from two to three weeks in, my skin started glowing! Still is. I’m 48 and took a picture the other day and was shocked at how much younger I look.

  5. emmy says:

    I had to cut out regular yogurt and cow’s milk (not dairy products in general, just anything too close to milk’s original state like cream or ice cream) 10 years ago because of acne. I don’t mean the occasional pimple, it was those painful ones that stay for weeks. I only noticed that I can’t digest dairy very well until I had a latte years later and felt like my stomach and colon were going to give up on me 😂 Same with meat. Never liked it much, cut it out for years and when I ate it again it didn’t sit well with me. I’m now a vegetarian trying to have more and more vegan meals in my day and I think the trick is to go slow. For me. Others can probably go cold turkey. But…. cheese man. Cheese is my downfall.

    I think it’s important that vegetarians and vegans are not hokey about it because yeah, many tend to turn it into a mystical experience. We simply eat a lot of crap. I used to think nothing had a negative effect on me until I cut out sugar for a while. Ah yes, I’m not actually an insomniac, it was the damn gummy bears at 10 pm.

  6. Izzy says:

    I changed my diet to a simpler, cleaner diet last year – fish for dinner, Greek yogurt, roasted veggies, etc., and found that it reduced the number of migraines I was getting. A LOT. I mean, I went from two or three a month to one every two or three months.

    • Betsy says:

      Interesting – I discovered that dehydration, lack of sleep and sugar seem to be my big triggers (with dehydration being the worst).

  7. Betsy says:

    She’s the reason I’ve watched The Help five times. She was so fun to watch. (And I would still love to watch a version of The Help made from the perspective of the women who worked as domestics).

    • Giddy says:

      Her role as Celia in The Help was an absolute wonder! The next movie I saw her in was Ava and it couldn’t have been more different from Celia. I don’t know if her vegan diet helps her acting, but she is incredible. For anyone who hasn’t seen The Help, go watch it!

      • Kristen820 says:

        Celia was my absolute FAVORITE character in the book. And Jessica completely embodied her. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

      • Julie says:

        Don’t. Just stop. If you can’t find it in yourself to listen to all the black actors, directors and commentators who’ve spoken up about that garbage movie. If you can’t even find some shame promoting it when both Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer have said they regret doing it. If you are blinded by a love for racist mamie stereotypes and white savior storylines that make black people secondary characters in movies about racism, thereby ironically advancing racism in today’s society. Then listen to white cast member Bryce Dallas Howard, who was just a few months ago begging people to stop streaming The Help.

        Sheesh. It’s been ten years of calling out that film. Could you at least stop pushing it onto new audiences.

      • Nina Simone says:

        @julie it reminds me how the help was the number one movie on Netflix last summer. Big sigh. It’s not a good movie at all. I adore every woman in it. Absolutely adore. But it is a flawed and deeply problematic film. I can’t wait for films and docs on black female domestic workers in the south during that era – from their perspective! There’s a lot of their experiences that were sanitized (no pun intended) and erased via that film. And that’s all I will say. Watch Judas and the black messiah for example if you want a more accurate portrayal of black stories

      • Virtuosity says:

        Thanks, Julie and Nina. I read about this a while back and it helped clarify that little bit of unease I felt with watching the film and reading the book but couldn’t work out at the time. Now I avoid this film.

  8. observing says:

    If you don’t have to show up at work, fasting likely isn’t that hard. For someone like her who doesn’t work regular hours, fasting on a vegan diet might not be that difficult for her.

    If you’re an office worker who commutes, then I think you’ll be craving the coffee real quick.

  9. Chartreuse says:

    I enjoy fasting and do it once a week or so but the rest of the time I’m straight carnivore. giving up vegetables improved my health immensely and I feel better for it.

    • Elizabeth says:

      How is a no-vegetables diet healthy? Or is this a joke?

      • kendi says:

        There are many people who have intolerances to plant foods and going carnivore is the best thing for their gut health. If you eat a straight carnivore diet, you get all your essential nutrients and especially fatty acids that help stave off depression. I know it seems radical but I’ve done it and it has been wonderful. No constipation either. I do take coffee and tea and will spice my meals. I’m not as strict as I used to be but staying away from most veggies that were toxic to my system has done wonders.

      • Nerdista says:

        I have an aunt who insists that vegetables are full of “anti-nutrients, actually” and she eats only meat and heavy cream based dairy. Also, FOOD IS NOT MEDICINE.

      • Lex says:

        My partnet has an autoimmune disease so too much fibre causes him all sorts of problems. He’d love to be no vegetables as he is a picky eater but I insist on some. We aim for smaller portions, or lower fibre veggies usually

    • sayitaintso says:

      Same. Carnivore + intermittent fasting has drastically improved my health, both physical and mental. I love vegetables and do miss them, but the way I feel makes it all worth it.

      (Fasting is so easy now. I used to white knuckle it through juice fasts, but when you’re truly fat-adapted, taking a day off from food barely registers.)

    • Sharp says:

      Have read sometimes veggies irritate people’s digestive systems or give other trouble due to pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Going organic could help (organic still uses some) as could soaking veg and fruit in bicarb soda and using other 100% natural techniques to remove PH&Fs from produce.

      Glyphosate could worsen gluten intolerance so organic flour all the way.

  10. ce says:

    So, I have a slightly different perspective here, and it’s something I always to bring up when i hear that someone’s diet is really restrictive but touted as ‘healthy’…

    (+ED TW+)

    I’ve been vegetarian since I was 13. Now it is for moral/ethical reasons, but when it started, it was the most socially acceptable way for me to cut out an entire food group without anyone calling me out for what it was: an eating disorder. I was actively anorexic/bulimic for three years before going into recovery. In the time since, if I restrict food the way I used to as a teenager it does trigger that same impulse to spiral out and I need to be very mindful of how I’m emotionally reacting to those feelings of hunger. Yeah, it does ‘feel good’ but it is NOT healthy to fast, cut out several food groups, etc. Moderation is key and it’s ok to eat some meat/fish/dairy if that is what your body needs. Hell, it’s ok to eat cupcakes and candy sometimes too! I can only say this because of 20+ years in recovery, and several relapses over the years as well.

    • Lolo says:

      Totally agree with you on this! Everyone is so different and I hate when people advocate their diet as the ONE TRUE PATH. Different bodies have different needs. And as someone recovering from ED, there is absolutely no way I could fast once a week and not go back to a dark place with it.

    • Haapa says:

      THIS. Nobody talks about the euphoric feeling that comes after a few days of severe restriction. Yeah you feel great, but it is in no way healthy.

    • JayNay says:

      yeah i’m glad you wrote this. “i fast one day a week” – lady that’s called an eating disorder.

    • Virtuosity says:

      I understand it can be an eating disorder for some, but for others it’s a healthful thing. I have a slow metabolism and breakfast often makes me queasy. I fast intermittently – basically eating at lunchtime and skipping breakfast and it’s kept me healthy for years, eating this way. I’m not obsessive about it; if I have an event/gathering in the morning I will have some fruit or lighter breakfast to go with the flow.

  11. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I could absolutely be a vegetarian, but not vegan lol. And I love fasting. I’ve been an intermittent faster since forever ago. And I’ve gotten used to the expensive Suja cold-pressed greens. At first taste, you swear you’re drinking your lawn clippings, but a funny thing happens as you choke it down. You start to form a bond with it. It’s weird. So when I’m not eating for a day, I turn to lawn clippings.

  12. Jaded says:

    Mr. Jaded was vegetarian for 20+ years – not for any moral or ethical reasons but his ex-wife had weird food phobias (gagged when she ate meat or fish or anything with a peel). Neither of them could cook beyond opening cans, eating instant mashed potatoes and rice, and buying pre-prepared frozen stuff. When we moved in together I said “look, I’m a very good cook and you’re going to eat the way I do” which is basically the Mediterranean diet, with lean seafood and poultry. I’d given up beef, pork and lamb years ago. I started him off with small portions of fish, then gradually increased the portion size and started introducing lean poultry after a while. Long story short he loves ALL of my food, has more energy and everyone who knew him before I came into his life says he looks much healthier now. If a vegan diet makes you feel better, do it. If fasting one day a week makes you feel better do it. But she sounds a bit preachy and it’s off-putting.

    • Petra says:

      I’m with you @ Jaded. I was a vegetarian for 10 years, somehow my skin as a vegetarian missed the glowing skin people says they get from vegetarianism. In 2002, I went back to eating all foods in moderation. The biggest lesson for me is to cook at home with the freshest ingredients I can afford to buy. I’m healthy with energy to spare and my skin glows.

  13. Eleonor says:

    I do intermittenting fasting during weekends: when I started it, I didn’t know it had a name, simply I eat when I am hungry, and not because it’s time, long story shot I ended up skipping breakfast and lunch, but I have a nice dinner, on saturday and sunday.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      Absofrakkinlutely. Rules are designed for breaking, and the morning, noon and night thing begs for massaging lol.

    • Mustlovedogs says:

      @Eleonor you sound like me! I used to call it “wolf eating”. I eat when I feel like it and when I have time to prepare a big meal I’ll eat it. I used to intermittently fast without knowing it had a name… I’ve been a vegetarian for long periods but added some animal protein when my body didn’t do well. Sometimes I eat the wrong things and I know it. Let’s all give ourselves a break and a big hug for doing the best we can. Because life throws some nasty curved balls at us, and on occasion the “Chips and Wine Diet” is all I can manage lol

  14. Sarah says:

    I’ve been vegan for nearly 25 years and there’s a lot of nuance and individual needs to it, but I don’t care what or how other people eat. Do what’s best for *your* body.

  15. OriginalLala says:

    I’m an ovo-vegetarian, and I feel best when I eat a whole foods diet – but if I start eating processed food I feel and look like crap lol.

  16. Normades says:

    If you want a fit body or just be super thin at a certain age, you have to work at it. Period. Afterwards ALL bodies are beautiful and who cares

  17. Virtuosity says:

    I love fasting. I do it most days of the week, just from 8PM at night to 12PM the next day. I never really liked breakfast since I stopped growing (around 18 probably). It gives me better digestion and more energy. It’s not for everyone but do what works for you without being obsessive about it.

  18. Daphne says:

    I eat vegan most of the time. I indulge in cheese and fish about once every six weeks. It’s a great way to eat if it works for you. Jessica is so gorgeous!!! My primary motivation is reducing my carbon footprint.

    • Virtuosity says:

      She’s really beautiful; always found her absolutely stunning and very genuine as a person to boot.

  19. Blerg says:

    That is such an awkward pose for them to stick her with. I also think she has cool cheekbones like Angelina Jolie, and photographs best when she isn’t smiling. I enjoy her acting and am interested in the vegan thing. I also admire people who love cooking. I love the eating part of cooking.

  20. Zantasia says:

    Whenever I read “clean” eating it pings my brain for orthorexia. I wish that no one had ever called any diet clean. It’s in the language now, so it’s not that I’m saying people are wrong to use it, but man I wish it had never been named that.

  21. Aphra says:

    She needs a serious trim (is that supposed to be stylish? looks like she’s growing out a painful perm).

  22. Veronica S. says:

    Gotta be honest that I side eye how often we hear about celebrities “fasting” once a week by not eating or just drinking all day, especially when they’re framing it as resetting the body. That’s a load of New Age bullshit if there ever was. Your metabolism is continuous and only cyclical in the sense that it’s roughly connected to circadian rhythm. I mean, you do you, fam. I’m sure for some people it’s a real deal diet, but for an industry where a size 6 is considered big, it sure is interesting how many of these “clean diets” involve literally just not eating.

    Not a huge meat person, but I couldn’t be vegan even if I wanted to at this point in my life. GI disorders are not friendly to a lot of vegetarian proteins. I wish I could be one of the cool kids who feels better eating raw and green, but when you suffer intestinal inflammation and spasms, processed food is the healthier choice sometimes. Sucks, yo. Had to give up a lot veggies I love.

    • foile.15 says:

      This. I also have a stomach condition, and as much as I love vegetables, fruit and salad I have to be careful not to eat too much of them or too often. Same goes for spicy food or beans and pulses.
      So yeah, sometimes processed and easily digestible foods are (unfortunately) the way to go.