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July 27, 2007

Men are bombarded with the message that meat equals manliness. Did you catch the Hummer commercial where a guy in the supermarket is buying tofu, but feels so emasculated by the guy in front of him whose cart is piled high with meat on Styrofoam trays that he has to run out and buy a Hummer to “restore his manhood”?

Even Boca, in an attempt to reach out to their female consumer base, has published ads in the past proclaiming “woman does not live by salad alone” for its meatless lasagna and “attack this like the wild, crazy, yet highly intelligent woman you are” for its veggie burgers. My fiancé couldn’t have been the only veg guy out there annoyed by those ads.

Some of my favorite veg bloggers are guys—for example, Eric Prescott of An Animal Friendly Life, a writer, film producer, and festival organizer who blogs regularly about veg-related news. Then there’s Ryan MacMichael of vegblog.org, a freelance writer who started his blog to help new vegetarians make the transition. Now his blog covers a variety of veg topics, recently cookbook reviews, news commentary, and updates on his young niece, who recently became a vegetarian. Jason Doucette recently relaunched his veganporn.com web site as TasteBetter.com, a vegan news and information site. (Veganporn.com never had porn, but the name sure gets your attention, right?) And though he’s on a hiatus right now, Ken in Tennessee’s veganlunchcast.com has more than 150 photo posts that show off his vegan lunches, inspired by Jennifer McCann’s very popular veganlunchbox.blogspot.com (and even those lunches were made for her son!).

But still, the list of my favorite female bloggers could go on for pages (I’ll save that for another post). Our own reader surveys show that the vast majority of our Vegetarian Times subscribers are female. The Vegetarian Resource Group’s 2006 Harris Interactive poll found that there are nearly twice as many female vegetarians as male vegetarians. Maybe this is why I get really happy when I meet guys who are veg. It’s probably not fair, but I automatically like them a little bit more because I assume they’re thoughtful, sensitive, and can probably cook.

If, like the Hummer ads say, veg guys are wimps who need to compensate by buying the biggest, most gas-guzzling car out there, how do you account for the many impressive veg athletes out there? Brendan Brazier is a vegan professional triathlete and champion of the 2003 and 2006 Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon. Not to mention vegan ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, two-time champion of the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile race in the California desert (with temperatures reaching up to 130ºF). Oh yeah, he also set a course record on that one. Plus, Jurek has won the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run seven years in a row—and this is only a tiny bit of his athletic résumé. How many meat-eating Hummer drivers can say they’ve done that? I’m betting zero, but feel free to surprise me.

Why do you think society associates vegetarianism and veganism with feminine qualities? What can we do to change that perception and show that real strength comes from caring about creatures more vulnerable than yourself?

—Lisa Barley, web editor/associate editor

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