My husband and I are both vegan. I have been a vegetarian since March 2006. I tried veganism for about a year and a half, before starting to eat cheese again. He and I met in July 2010, he immediately stopped eating meat and we both went vegan together in August 2012. You can read all about my personal road to veganism here.
I get some weird, negative comments about the way I eat here and there, but nothing compared to the flack he receives. We have talked about it quite and bit and it seems like society is much more critical of men who do not eat animals. We have tried to figure out why and have mostly deduced that it seems unmanly to eat for compassion or care for animals, the environment or your own health.
It is often assumed that he is vegan because I force him to be. I really do not have, nor want that kind of power over anyone. I asked him to guest post here today, to share some of this thoughts on veganism and masculinity. I hope you enjoy this post from my husband, Philip:
I did become vegetarian because I dated a beautiful woman. She told me no lovin’ unless I stopped eating meat. She frowned at my hamburger eating, bacon wrapping, milkshake drinking ways. One day she took me aside and made me turn into a hippie that loves the earth and animals alike.
No… This actually never happened! One can’t make a person do anything that person didn’t choose. And I hope that she would have had enough sense to not even be attracted to me if I was as bad as the aforementioned.
I wanted to be vegetarian for a long time but I have a weakness of sorts. Food. All types. I had zero self-control when it came to the epicurean aspects of life and all of my friends ate meat. However, meeting Angelina motivated me to do something I had always wanted and I realized giving up meat was actually easy.
My body still craved that meaty stench that is cheese so like the rest of my appetites I shifted the scale in the other direction and went way over board. I gave myself a coronary overload of cheese and milk. Then we went to Spain and in Spain I sealed the deal and said a very fond goodbye in the land of cheese, beer, and living late.
When we returned I needed a cleanse and WE decided it would be prudent to try veganism. (I’m one of those weird males that decides things while discussing it with my wife rather than just going with what I want.) It’s been five years now with no meat and three as a vegan and I feel healthier than ever. My digestion has significantly improved, my energy has increased, I feel lighter and have lost and kept some weight off.
The choice to be vegan was never more clear than when we had a BBQ party at my house for some meat eating family member. I cooked their meat that they brought on my grille. I was a new vegan and still getting used to this way of eating. While cleaning the horrid amount of muck that had coagulated on the grille I thought of my arteries as one often does while cleaning an appliance. I was scrubbing and scrubbing away at this thing with soap and a scrubbing pad and barely making a dent. I thought, how long would it take my arteries with no soap available and no scrubbing pad to rid themselves of that caked on grease? I knew then that I had made the right choice.
So I “came out” to all the people in my life that I was now a vegan. The immediate reactions were the same as every other that I’ve gotten since then as a person would stare at me in wonder turning their head not unlike a confused dog trying to figure out why a man, a male, a masculine descendant of hunters, would choose not to eat meat and ask the question, “Is your wife vegan?” to which I would reply, “yes of course.” And in a stroke of their personal satisfaction and complete understanding like discovering why precipitation occurs, they conclude, “oh I get, it that’s why.” It all made sense now to them. I’m one of those hen-pecked males that does “weird” unorthodox things because of my overbearing wife. Because, a man would never choose health, compassion, and stewardship of the planet unless a woman made him.
Veganism fit my personality. I love the earth and things around me and feeling better. I feel better about my choices, my health, my role on the planet, and the choices I make.
From what I’ve come across in terms of meat eating men, they tend to view vegan men as “less of a man.” Some comments I’ve heard include:
“How do you get it up?”
“Do you take supplements?”
“I bet you sneak meat when your wife isn’t around.”
“I bet you’re tired because you don’t eat meat.”
“If you ate meat you wouldn’t be sick right now.”
“I’m a carnivore I could never eat just salad.” (::slaps other “carnivores” on the back and revels in his manliness::)
And when eating with other meat eating men…
“Come on,… have some… you know you want it. No one has to know.”
You know what. I am more feminine now that I’ve become vegan and the meat eaters are right. I see more clearly the male agenda. The lack of compassion in the world and towards the world seems to be an attempt by men to remind themselves that they are important as they exclaim that they are indeed at the “top of the food chain.” Way to go boys! You win!
Of course I am being sarcastic here. I have a hard time understanding why compassion is viewed as solely a female attribute. I try to extend that compassion even when those negative remarks are thrown my way and feel that I understand masculinity enough to know it is not defined by eating animals.
I am a husband, a father, a teacher, and I share this planet with all the other members of this planet. As a husband I want to make sure that I am around to be loving to my wife as long as possible. As a teacher I want to make sure that I extend the same amount of compassion that I show towards the earth to those I serve in my community. I share this planet with billions of other beings and I do not believe I am more important than any others. Most importantly for me I am a father. It is my job to raise my son to not only be a strong minded, strong willed, fortitudinous young man, but to think responsibly for himself, his community, and his planet. I raise my son through action not words. I am a vegan and I am proud of it.