THE BLOG

You Can Be Vegetarian and Keep Your Man Card, Too

08/27/2015 01:00 EDT | Updated 08/27/2016 05:59 EDT
Shutterstock / Brian Holm

Being a vegetarian or vegan is not considered "manly."

This may cause one to ask questions such as: How do gender roles impact attitudes and behaviour within our society? Is society's definition of gender too narrow? Are we taking a close enough look at how definitions of "manliness" are impacting other areas of society? All fine questions to ask, but that's not what we are talking about right now.

Regardless of society's current views on gender, let's just agree for now that gender roles exist within our society and play a role in our attitudes and behaviour, for better or for worse -- usually worse.

Placed firmly under the category of "Male Gender Roles" is eating meat. I imagine this gender role has something to do with the romantic notion of a primitive hunter wearing a loin cloth and slaying wild beasts that live across the tundra, jungle, or a similarly badass location, then carrying said beast on his back to his village, where the locals bow to him as King Manly Man.

This idea runs slightly counter to the present day reality of picking up a microwavable "Hungry Man" dinner containing meat from a genetically "tweaked" cow that lived a cramped life on a factory farm located many miles from your home, then watching TV before quietly drifting off to slumber as the genetically engineered food alters your digestive system, bloats out your stomach and does a bunch of other stuff to you that science probably won't discover for another few years.

Despite this, being a vegetarian has actually been pretty easy. The food is better, healthier and provides motivation to look closer at the impacts of diet and health. What has not been easy is being a vegetarian while also enjoying a lot of "dude stuff."

Dude Stuff examples:

  • Playing sports
  • Watching others play sports
  • Commenting on others playing sports
  • Drinking beer (often while watching and/or talking about sports)
  • Ripping on each other for perceived differences

Enjoying "dude stuff" means being around other guys who also enjoy "dude stuff." Often it is the guys who most closely fit the male gender-roled stereotype who are drawn to such activities, meaning it is a demographic with a low vegetarian/vegan population. As such, the plight of the male vegetarian can be expressed using the following formula:

Male gender role of eating meat

+

Dude Stuff Activity of ripping on each other for perceived differences

+

Being a male vegetarian who enjoys dude stuff around other males who enjoy dude stuff

=

Getting ripped on greatly for being vegetarian/vegan by dudes

I have gone to great lengths to hide the fact that I don't eat meat in such situations. In fact, I believe that if such records were kept I would be the world leader in discreet veggie burger orders.

Here is a list of lies I have considered telling in order to avoid a conversation about why I am vegetarian:

  • "I'm allergic."
  • "I had a traumatic experience with ham as a child."
  • "It's for charity."
  • "Dude, you gotta try it! Girls think you're all sensitive and stuff, it's great."
  • "I've actually eaten so much meat in my life that my doctor says I need to go without for, like, a year just to even things out."

When I mention this to other vegetarians/vegans, I get a little grief for not taking the opportunity to encourage others to also take up a similar diet/lifestyle. I understand this complaint, but it's not as though I do not want the opportunity to show others how easy it is to give up eating meat, or providing reasons why they should. It's because usually these opportunities arise right before a meal, so I'm hungry and my blood sugar levels aren't supplying me with the energy I need to take part in such a conversation.

For the dudes who want to go to baseball games, sports bars, barbecues, moustache competitions, or other such events, I am offering you today the only response you'll need to keep your manliness levels high while being open about your veggie lifestyle. When in such situation, simply say the following:

"I am going to order this bar's veggie burger! I know their veggie burger is one of those terrible kinds that have friggin' peas and chopped vegetable parts embedded in it, but I am going to order it in anyway! I do this because I do not eat meat. Hear me loud, and hear me proud! I do not eat meat like these alpha males, these kings among men:

  • Tony Gonzales, future NFL Hall of Famer
  • Hank Aaron, who would still be the MLB homerun king had Barry Bonds not used synthetic manliness
  • Joe Namath
  • Prince Fielder
  • Tony La Russa
  • Carmello Anthony
  • Pretty much half of all UFC fighters
  • The dude from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  • And many more!

Should any of you here today feel your manliness exceeds any on the list I have provided before ye, then I say let us twirl our moustaches and throw down fisticuffs! If not, then I recommend ye leave me to eat this terrible veggie burger in peace!"

(You may choose not to adopt an old-timey boxer impression, but it does make it more fun.)

And if that doesn't work, just pick out the largest member of your group and wrestle him to the ground. This will make you the alpha dog leader of the group instantly.

Perhaps one day gender roles will no longer exist in society, or at the very least pointless gender roles such as the one discussed here will be abandoned. Perhaps our definition of gender will broaden, and all people will be judged solely on their character and not on society's expectations of appearance and adherance to social norms. Until then, I hope this post gets a few dudes out of some awkward situations. Thank you for your time.

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