“For as long as I can remember I have been male. For most of that time I’ve eaten animals, and for a small percentage of that time I have not. Throughout, my genetalia has changed a lot, but I have always maintained, what my GP considers to be, a healthy human penis. Contrary to popular belief, eating meat hasn’t affected my manhood all that much. Why then do my peers associate the existence, or non-existence of my persistent little buddy, my tenders, my Mr, my Johnson, my jingly jangly… with meat consumption?
To be a male vegan is to invite harassment, it is to invite contempt and unconstructive criticisms at every dinner table, snack and “no thank you”. I have personally received an almost constant bombardment of derogatory slurs from my male friends, family and even complete strangers. Their attempts to emasculate me left me feeling utterly dumfounded on many occasions and hurt on others. I found myself asking, what is it about eating vegetables that causes such an inflammatory response?
As a child I was always taught that being a man was about strength, resilience and power. At least that is the reinforced cultural norm. As I’ve developed as an individual I have realised that being a person, an adult, a fully formed human is what makes you a man. Ironically, being a ‘good man’ isn’t gender specific.
The bedevilment that male vegans endure speaks of a wider cultural contradiction. We believe in equal rights for women and men, but do not practice it. Our language and attitudes betray us. There still seems to be an undercurrent of outdated ideologies that bubble to the surface whenever a man shows empathy and compassion. Feelings are for the baby makers. We as men must be detached, stoic and impassive. Of the 5,981 deaths by suicide in the UK in 2012, 3,590 of them were male, and although the debate continues on why this is, many attribute it to these gender roles.
If we travel back to the early stages of our evolution and strip the male role to its core, we will always arrive at fatherhood. Being paternal for most is being the protector, the overseer, the territory defender. If this is who we are at our most basic, these protectors of women and children, then by extension we must protect our earth. Without it your family is homeless.
Indulgence isn’t selfless, resource consumption is self gratifying. This insinuation that men shouldn’t feel emotion and exhibit a caring attitude is the real weakness. If we as men do not allow ourselves and each other to be powerful and empathetic we will ultimately fail our loved ones, and fail as men. To push towards a better future, defying current norms regardless of majority opinion shows more strength and resilience than letting people decide your future for you. Be a man and eat bacon? No. Be a man and save lives, be a man and preserve your children’s home. To endure for the sake of others is a sign of strength, passion and a willingness that can only be powerful.
Robert Jensen once described male society as a game of king of the hill. The man ontop (the alpha) can never be content as he’s constantly watching his back, defending his place in the hierarchy. The subsequent males (betas) will never be content due to their lower status. I have observed and participated in this unspoken game for much of my life. We subconsciously battle for placement by berating and offending one another. By choosing to be vegan you are removing yourself from this inevitable discontentment. You’re setting your own president. The greatest victory is the battle never fought. So be a man and set your own example.
Besides, studies show that a vegan diet increases blood flow to the penis during intercourse.”
So ‘real men’ are vegan…
- This piece was brought to you by Dan Roberts, vegan of 5 years. Should you wish contact Dan his email is: firstname.lastname@example.org