Editorial: Meat and Masculinity


Written by Dalton Sweet

Historically, masculinity has been associated with strength, apathy, and rebellion. Biting into a juicy steak is about the "manliest" thing someone can do. Numerous companies have created marketing campaigns that directly tap into this fallacy. From Arby’s "We Have The Meats" to Burger King’s "I Am Man," the media continues to portray meat consumption as inherent to the male identity.

But this stereotype is outdated. First of all, meat arrives at our plates much differently than it did in the past. Very few men consuming meat nowadays hunt the food themselves. There is nothing manly about pointing at an item on a menu and saying “I want that.”

True strength does not lie in eating meat, but rather in standing up for what is right. Our current level of meat consumption is unsustainable. It brings unnecessary harm to animals and to the environment. It causes the mistreatment of animals on factory farms, contributes to increased greenhouse gas emissions, and inefficiently uses massive amounts of water and grain to produce animal-based products. It takes strength to go against the status quo, provide a voice for the voiceless, and make a conscious effort to help the planet.

Far too often, men also overlook their health and wellness. But it is important to note tha substituting plant-based proteins for meat decreases the chance of heart disease, certain types of cancers, strokes, and diabetes. Strength and manliness are found in eating healthy alternatives, rather than continuing to consume what degrades our health. Plant-based foods provide all the protein, vitamins, and minerals that our bodies need. Prince Fielder, Mike Tyson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Kendrick Farris are just a few examples of the many male athletes and burly men who have chosen a reducetarian diet. By reducing meat consumption, they have achieved peak physical condition. And without a doubt, they still represent the traditional male identity.

As professional football player David Carter puts it, “Standing up for what’s right, protecting the innocent, and taking care of your body is not only manly in my eyes, it’s basic common sense. The definition of masculinity is something that should be constantly evolving.”

Apathy to the mistreatment of animals, the planet, and our health does not make a man. Rebelling against the status quo and doing what is right for the world does. Taking practical steps to reduce one’s meat consumption shows maturity, intelligence, passion, and manliness. Be a real man (in whatever way that means to you) by consciously making informed, compassionate dietary choices.