Date Night Unexpectedly Becomes Anti-Vegan Propaganda

Tom Cruise plans to hang off the outside of planes well into his 80's.
Tom Cruise plans to hang off the outside of planes well into his 80’s.

Since my folks have graciously offered to watch the girls for an evening a week, every Friday is date night for John and I. This is a fantastic arrangement I would recommend to all parents, if possible, because it lets our kids regularly spend time with their grandparents and gives us a weekly break.

Let’s face it: as much as you adore your children, they are a lot of work and consume a huge amount of attention. Taking an occasional breather helps you be a better parent and strengthens your relationship. It’s good to spend some quality time with your partner without being on constant alert, in perpetual hyper-vigilant parent mode.

Our routine usually consists of dinner and a movie. We recently signed up for MoviePass to save a little money, and I am getting no kickbacks for endorsing them (though I would be very open to kickbacks. Did you hear that, MoviePass?). Anyhoo, John and I have different film tastes, so we take turns picking the movie each week. One week will be a romantic comedy, the next a superhero film, the next a crusty British period drama, and the next a bank heist… you get the idea. This system has served us well. Not only do we spare ourselves endless bickering, but we also end up sometimes loving the movie our partner picked, which we would probably never have otherwise seen. For example, we saw Trainwreck last week, and John thought it was hysterical.

This week was John’s pick, so we saw Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. It was a lot of fun, even if a couple scenes crossed the line from improbable to ridiculous, but I’m not here to talk about the relative merits of that movie. No, I feel the more urgent topic here is the dramatic difference between how Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin are aging.

I realize some people think Tom Cruise has aged out of the Mission Impossible series, but while I was watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think, Holy crap, that man is in his 50’s! He looks freakin’ incredible! He is in amazing shape, and only has a few fine lines about the eyes. I believe he could easily pass for a man in his early 30’s.

On the other hand, time has been less kind to Alec Baldwin. I hate to pick on the guy, because I think he’s a wonderful actor and I loved him on 30 Rock. But he could easily play Tom Cruise’s father (a father with distinguished good looks, but his father, nonetheless). So, I googled their birthdays to find out the actual age difference between them, and holy crap, Alec Baldwin is only four years older than Tom Cruise. Not enough to merit a generational difference, to be certain. Tom is 53 and Alec is 57.

What makes this all so surprising for me is the fact that, in my opinion, Alec used to be so much hotter than Tom. Because of intellectual property issues and copyright law, I can’t just post a bunch of early Alec Baldwin photos, but google him. The man was an Adonis… the type that could make you forget your name with a single intense flash of those smoldering blue eyes. He started off ahead of Tom, so we can’t just dismiss the difference to superior genetics. At this point, Alec is still pleasant looking, but slap an abrasive personality on those looks instead of his confidant charisma, and no one would look at him twice.

Tom, on the other hand, is a damn fine-looking man, even if his couch-leaping Oprah antics make him seem a bit insane. I found myself wondering what the hell he does to stay in such good condition after so many years. After all, his iconic Risky Business dance took place in 1983. That’s more than thirty years ago. Most current hot guys weren’t even born yet.

The easy answer is that Tom is super rich and can afford plastic surgery, botox, dietitians, and personal trainers. True, but isn’t that also the case with so many other celebrities? Like, for instance… Alec Baldwin? Not all A-listers are faring as well as Tom, despite their special access to perks.

There are a countless number of different diets touted by the media, nutrition experts, and various stars. You’ve got low-fat, low-carb, Paleo, vegetarian, vegan, anti-gluten, anti-dairy, Dukkan, Atkins, calorie restriction… they are not only different, but mutually exclusive. Countless fitness and beauty magazines feature gorgeous celebrities on the cover, who answer detailed questions about dietary preferences and exercise habits in the inside articles.

The problem with these interviews is that the celebrities are so often in their early to mid twenties. Young bodies can be pretty forgiving. In college, I knew loads of people who looked terrific despite living off Top Ramen, takeout pizza and six-packs of cheap beer. Lifestyle choices simply hadn’t caught up to them yet.

So to figure out the best way to cheat time, I want to read about the regimens of folks who still look incredible after their contemporaries have started resembling a melted-candle version of their former selves, not the fickle food fads of babies. Take veganism, for example… maybe it’s the way to go, but it scares me. There aren’t enough examples of people who remained vegans for decades. Maybe it keeps you young, or maybe it just makes young people skinny while nutritional deficiencies add up like termites munching at your very foundations until the whole building collapses by midlife. Pamela Anderson isn’t looking so hot these days. Michelle Pfeiffer looks good, but she’s a recent convert. Maybe veganism is a lot like tanning: it looks great now, but you’re gonna be sorry twenty years later.

Maybe Tom has figured out the fountain of youth. At the very least, I decided to do an internet search of Tom’s and Alec’s set and fitness regimes, hoping that the differences might reveal some answers…

Most of what I found about Tom’s diet came from sketchy sites with lots of misspelled words, as though the author was neither a native speaker, nor had the means to employ one. Hardly the sort of person that has a special pass to celebrity secrets. All the info I could glean from more reputable sources consisted of:

  1. Tom using his buddy David Beckham’s plan, which consisted of a 1200 calorie diet made up of lean proteins (chicken and fish), fruits and vegetables,
  2. His personal chef cooked for the cast of Mission Impossible, Cast member Simon Pegg said they ate things like,”incredible stews and chorizo, these dates that were stuffed with peanut butter and sprinkled with coconut.” And apparently, cast members would “break” by eating chocolates left on their hotel pillows: “They would ask each other ‘Did you eat your chocolates?’ But Tom never did. Tom is disciplined to a T. It’s amazing.”
  3. He works out a lot.

Hmm. Not a ton of information to go off of here, but the lean meats, fish, and chorizo suggests Tom is definitely not a vegetarian or vegan. His refusal to touch hotel chocolates suggests he stays away from refined sugars, and I didn’t notice any refined carbs on these lists. The chorizo and peanut butter suggest he doesn’t avoid fats… could he be Paleo? Dates and coconuts are sweet, but they are natural sugars. Dairy wasn’t mentioned. The Beckham method of meats, fruits and veggies would fit into the Paleo system.

In contrast, let’s look at what Alec has been eating. Apparently, he was vegetarian for many years since he was married to Kim Bassinger (famously vegetarian). This isn’t looking good for vegetarians, though we really have no idea what kind of vegetarian Alec was. For all we know, Alec was eating french fries and ice cream all day, which would still make him a vegetarian.

Alec married an inappropriately younger woman a few years back, which made him more conscious of his physical condition. He lost 35 pounds, saying he avoided added sugar and started using soy milk. Maybe the soy milk speaks to his previously veggie lifestyle. At least he agrees with Tom about the evils of added sugar.

On Alec’s exercise he has apparently lost a lot of weight for his young wife using pilates an yoga, in contrast to Tom’s resistance training (more Paleo-inspired clues). I’m partial to yoga and pilates, since I do them myself and have seen great results, but again, Alec’s physique is no match for Tom’s. Alec’s neck is now wider than his head.

Based on this admittedly limited data, I’m going to have to award a point to the Paleo team. Or at the very least, I have to conclude that a well-balanced carnivorous diet beats out a sloppy vegetarian one. I’m anxiously awaiting what life lessons can be gleaned from next week’s flick.


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