Does society still see herbivorous men as secondary to their omnivorous brothers?
It has been a question I’ve asked myself since the day I declined that fish fillet all those years ago. And since that day, I have still mulled over the notion that as a vegan man, I must be more feminine than the other boys I sit with at lunch. “Where’s the meat?” one would ask, only for me to reply with something pompous like: “Oh, I’m Ethical, you see.” Or in this case, something to strengthen my manliness: “Oh, I dunno, didn’t fancy it in my rocket salad today.”
It’s a difficult position to be in, especially when you don’t want to come across as preachy. I’ve found on many occasions the surprise people show me when my dark secret of meatlessness is revealed to them, only to have to sit through a lecture of protein deficiencies, canine teeth, muscle mass, and a whole bucket of manly manliness.
I asked several people for their opinion on this, and most of them swayed towards the notion that vegan men are more caring, passionate, committed, attractive, and in some cases, better potential parents. But having said that, I found these opinions were mostly from women, whereas the men I asked, responded with (surprisingly) a more physical answer, wherein vegan men were more likely to “look” less masculine due to a lack of protein. Their answer: meat = muscle = strength = masculinity.
Of course, I had to bite my tongue. There have been many studies that show both diets and lifestyles give adequate amounts of protein to build a desirable level of muscle. But this idea that muscular men were the image of masculinity got me thinking further. Are men compensating their emotional fear by hiding behind a body of strength?
Vegans and vegetarians live their lifestyle on the premise that no animal should be exploited for their indulgence, save for the few who do it for health or dietary reasons. The former, in my honest opinion, have the capacity to care for something they may never see. The act of caring, takes a great deal of courage and strength, especially for something that was created as a commodity.
It can at times be clear we live in a very uncaring society. Each day the media portrays the world as a dangerous and untrustworthy place, and as a result, we put up a strong façade in order to conceal our fear, and as a side effect, we loose our caring nature. If we aren’t prepared to care for our fellow human, then why bother extending to animals?
This argument feels as though it could delve deeper and deeper, so much so, it reminds me of something I read in high school, in which male humans are “biologically” stronger than females, and it begs the question, are men biologically made to protect the weak? Should that not mean men should be praised for their decision to see their lamb chops as a live lamb skipping through a meadow? Or does it prove that men are strong enough to dominate and exploit what the world provides for them?
My conclusion? Well it’s going to take some time, but the idea that vegan men are just as “manly” as non-vegans, will one day be a very feasible and likely belief shared by the majority.