The day the meals that were going to turn me into Tom Brady arrived, I carried the oversize Purple Carrot TB12 Performance Meals box into my building’s elevator. There was a dude in there. He noticed my box, clearly sensing the power of the gluten-free, 100 percent plant-based ingredients contained inside.
“What’s Purple Carrot?” he asked.
“It’s, like, a food-delivery service.”
“So, kinda like Blue Apron?” he replied.
Yeah, sort of, if Blue Apron came straight from Tom Brady’s kitchen and could help you throw a goddam country mile, I thought. A half-hearted “I guess” came out instead.
You see, as part of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s TB12 Sports business, the handsome, five-time Super Bowl winner joined with plant-based food-delivery organization Purple Carrot to create a jacked-up meal-delivery kit. It’s inspired by the strict nutritional regimen that helps him remain, at the NFL dinosaur age of 39, the greatest man to ever throw an oblong ball to other men for points. There’s no gluten, no nightshades (a vegetable family that includes eggplant and our beloved tomato), no sugar. It is not a diet that sounds like a lot of fun, but it is a diet that sounds like it might make your muscles just as pliable as Tom Brady wants them to be.
I was never expecting to enjoy the plan, but I did want to better understand who on Earth would do this. Who would take one of the extremely unsexy means by which Tom Brady achieves the very sexy end that is his life, and make that into an end itself? And also: Did anyone actually think it would work? Would it? If GQ agreed to pay for it, then I figured I might as well take three weeks and try to find out.
The meals are delivered every Tuesday in a giant red-and-white box decorated with the unfortunate slogan #eatlikeaGOAT and some other aspirational words (“What we get out of our bodies is a direct result of what we put in. Food is fuel, and we believe that food can help you achieve and sustain your peak performance”). For $78 a week, you receive ingredients for three meals, along with three detailed, step-by-step recipe cards. The finished dishes on these cards look like what Tom and Gisele look like in photos, which is to say: not at all realistic. Every ingredient, aside from whole vegetables, comes in a perfectly parceled-out portion size: There’s the little baggy of turmeric, the pat of vegan butter, the sac of cauliflower florets. Probably not super awesome for the environment, but convenient for me. The first box came with a letter from Tom, written in all-caps block letters.