[image via The Vegan Soapbox]
The tell-tale signs
Does the man in your life know the proper pronunciation of quinoa?
Has he ever come home with a guilty look and the smell of wheat grass on his breath?
Does he think it’s cute when you refer to lentils as legumes (Silly girl, they’re pulses!) and get hot and bothered when you wear your organic cotton t shirt?
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but your man is a vegan.
The cultural cliché that just won’t die
Real men are supposed to eat meat. Those who eschew animal-sourced foods are, if not exactly girlie, compromised as manly men. Even vegetarians rate their own kind as less masculine.
Meat is the food of men. In ancient societies, a successful hunt was an emblem of manhood, bringing status and signaling readiness to marry. Meat-eating suggests power, vitality, and virility. Nearly every language with gendered pronouns assigns maleness to meaty words.
By contrast a meatless regimen seems mild and anemic. And worst of all, it speaks of compassion. Vegans are tagged as sensitive souls—hugging trees, cuddling bunnies, awash in emotionalism. In other words, feminine.
Finally, vegan men are coming out of the closet.
Bloomberg Businessweek profiled heavyweight, alpha-male vegans like Bill Clinton, Russell Simmons, and Steve Wynn in The Rise of the Power Vegans, and a group called Vegans in Vegas held a first-of-its kind event mixing bachelor party hijinks with vegan-themed presentations in fields like nutrition, fitness, and environmentalism. The online, pro-vegan lifestyle magazine The Discerning Brute calls its content fashion, food, and etiquette for the ethically handsome man, and The Ethical Man recently became the first 100% vegan apparel shop for men.
Beefcake; hold the beef
40 Sexy Vegan Men shares photos and video of celebrity vegans from the fields of film, music, professional sports, and television. 10 Brawny and Buff Vegan Men gives us exactly that from the chest-thumping world of boxers, wrestlers, and martial artists. And then there was the wildly-popular Vegan Ryan Gosling internet meme (sample entry: Hey Girl, sorry my shirt is off but we’re out of cheesecloth and I needed to drain some tofu).
Do your part to help change perceptions
Encourage your man to come out of the shadows and practice his veganism in the light of day.
Take him on a date to the bulk foods aisle. Start dropping phrases like bioavailability and meat analog into conversations. Learn to love a splash of almond milk in your coffee.
Real men do eat plants; they just need our love and support to do it in public.