Barack Obama Celebrates 60 With a Plant-Based Birthday Party

Barack Obama against a blue background

Barack Obama rang in his 60th birthday on August 4. And to celebrate, he’s throwing a vegan-friendly birthday bash this weekend on Martha’s Vineyard. (We’re all still eagerly awaiting our invitations…)

The event will feature a meatless menu (although it’s unclear whether a separate menu featuring meat will be served). A wide range of plant-based brands will be front and center, including Impossible Foods and Eat Just.

Musician Questlove curated the birthday celebration’s special plant-based menu. After undertaking “a great vegan experiment” back in 2012, the Roots’ drummer has since delved into all things plant-based. He has invested in vegan Chilean food tech brand NotCo and California-based Impossible Foods.

In 2019, the Philadelphia native launched the Questlove Cheesesteak, which features Impossible meat, sautéed onions, dairy American and Provolone cheese sauce, topped with banana peppers and pickles. 

“As a non vegan/vegetarian I still fell in love with Impossible Foods for several years,” Questlove said. “And as a Philadelphian….well — I gotta know Cheesesteaks right?”

Questlove Cheesesteak
Musician Questlove, who created the vegan Questlove Cheesesteak, curated the menu. | Questlove Cheesesteak

Obama’s vegan birthday bash

The former president had originally planned a huge celebration, with hundreds slated to attend. However, he decided to scale back the event over concerns about COVID-19. ​​

“Due to the new spread of the Delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends,” Hannah Hankins, a spokesperson for Obama, said. “He’s appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.”

Guests attending the birthday celebration will be able to dine on Spam Musubi, made with Impossible Foods’ vegan pork and beef, according to Bloomberg. 

The menu will also include Eat Just’s vegan eggs and Questlove’s own Cheeseteak Eggrolls. The latter is made with Impossible’s vegan beef and California-based startup Perfect Day’s animal-free cheese sauce. 

Perfect Day, which was founded in 2014, creates animal-free milk proteins that are identical to those found in cow’s milk. They are able to produce the dairy proteins—such as whey and casein—by fermenting fungi.

Vegan-friendly events like Obama’s birthday bash are becoming more mainstream. For the first time ever, the Met Gala will serve an entirely plant-based menu. 

In January 2020, the Academy Awards revealed food served before the official Oscars ceremony would be plant-based. The Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the Critics Choice Awards, and the BAFTAs also served plant-based menus.

“We don’t think we’ll change the world with one meal, but we decided to take small steps to bring awareness,” Lorenzo Soria, former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association who passed away in August 2020, said at the time. “The food we eat, the way it is processed and grown and disposed of, all of that contributes to the climate crisis.”