The 2021 Met Gala Goes Vegan

Katy Perry wearing a chandelier on her head at the Met Gala in 2019

The Met Gala is going vegan! For the first time ever, the annual Met Gala will serve an entirely plant-based menu, with no meat or dairy products in sight. The sustainable feast for the September event is slated to be prepared by 10 up-and-coming chefs based in New York City. 

The culinary professionals who made the cut are Fariyal Abdullahi, Nasim Alikhani, Emma Bengtsson, Lazarus Lynch, Junghyun Park, Erik Ramirez, Thomas Raquel, Sophia Roe, Simone Tong, and Fabian von Hauske.

The talented group was handpicked by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson after Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, who chairs the Met Gala each year, tasked him with assembling a group of chefs who have unique stories to tell. Wintour also wanted the menu to highlight where the food and restaurant industry is going, and what modern American appetites are craving at an increasing rate.

The 10 chefs chosen to cook for this year’s Met Gala will prepare vegan canapés, entrées, and desserts, and every dish will illustrate each chef’s interpretation of regional American cuisine.

“After a difficult two years for the restaurant industry, this will showcase the work and tell the stories of a dynamic group of chefs while presenting an exciting menu of delicious, plant-based dishes,” Samuelsson said in a press release. “The gala offers an incomparable opportunity for emerging talent to elevate their careers and share their perspectives and craft.”

Why is the Met Gala going vegan?

“We thought it was important to really talk about what’s present, what’s happening—how food is changing in America,” Samuelsson told Bon Appétit. “We want to be the future of American food, of plant-based food. That conversation is happening now.”

Though the Met Gala is usually catered, the decision to go plant-based this year also gels with the theme of the event—In America: A Lexicon of Fashion. The two-part exhibit, which is scheduled to debut this fall and next spring, respectively, will delve into modern American styles. It will also explore issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

For Samuelsson, the Met Gala going vegan will also help shine a light on a similar shift happening in the fashion industry, as many well-known designers have recently ditched fur, leather, and other animal products in favor of natural materials such as mushroom leather.

“Both industries respect craftsmanship,” he explained. “Being a chef is all about working a lot with style, with people. It’s the same thing with fashion. It’s a different medium, but you’re really expressing a point of view, a sense of place.”

Though it’s unclear if the Met Gala has made the switch to plant-based food for good, Samuelsson is optimistic. “I’m excited about hopefully starting a tradition where, next spring, the audience will come for the food as well,” he shared.

A shift toward vegan events

While the Met Gala going vegan for the first time is certainly a big deal, it’s hardly the first high-profile event to ditch meat. 

In January 2020, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced that all food served in the lobby prior to the Oscars ceremony (there’s no food during the show itself) would be entirely plant-based. Additionally, the menu at the post-ceremony Governors Ball that year was a whopping 70 percent vegan.

This move came after the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the Critics Choice Awards each made their events plant-based as well.

Across the pond, the BAFTAs served vegan food to attendees in 2020 as well. The menu included a vegan starter, as well as a plant-based dessert. “Like everyone, we are increasingly concerned about the impact of climate change,” Dame Pippa Harris, the deputy chair of BAFTA, said at the time. “It just feels like we can no longer do nothing, that is just not acceptable.” 

On the fine-dining end, world-renowned restaurant Eleven Madison Park announced it was going (almost) completely vegan in May 2021.