Real men eat meat?
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Unless he’s vegan, then it’s through his vagina. Am I right? Real men laugh at this joke because real men eat meat, unlike those pussy vegan soyboys. At least, that’s the dominant narrative in the minds of many non-vegan men. I’m a vegan man myself and if you’re one of those real meat-eating men then this article is for you. I’m going to deconstruct the narrative completely and show you that it’s actually just holding you back from becoming a better man.
You’re insulting yourself
If you think I’m not a real man because I don’t eat meat, you might think I’d feel insulted if you said that to me. But I wouldn’t, not even a little. Because I obviously already have a definition of what a real man is. It’s not an overly complicated definition either, it’s just based on biology. And I’m not going to change my definition just because someone is trying to insult me. You might as well be trying to convince me that I don’t really have green eyes. That would be equally ridiculous.
So, if you’re not defining me, then who are you defining? Yourself. I don’t subscribe to your definition, but you certainly do. And what you’re telling me is that if you didn’t eat meat you wouldn’t consider yourself a real man. I want you to pause here for a second and realize just how sad that is. You don’t think the fact that you got balls and a dick is enough to qualify as a real man. You actually think you need something external to make up for your lack of inherent masculinity.
That’s a problem. A problem that needs fixing. Because as long as you don’t realize that you’re a real man no matter what you do, you’re open to being manipulated by people who don’t have your best interest at heart. The tobacco industry has worked this angle for decades, with their stupid cowboy ads, sending millions of men to an early grave. And now you’re letting the meat industry do the same. “Real men eat meat” they say and off to the butcher shop you go. They’re playing you for a fool. You’re a real man in your very essence, it’s not some subscription that needs to be perpetually renewed with purchases of dead animals. You can stop whenever you like and still be a real man.
What about protein?
Maybe you’re thinking: “That’s all well and good, vegan man, but what about protein? I need meat to stay strong.” In that case, I got some interesting news for you: You don’t.
That’s marketing. And to the meat industry’s credit, it’s great marketing. If you ever want to sell an inferior product that people don’t actually need, study what these guys did. You will not regret it.
Allow me to teach you Protein 101: Protein is made by plants. Yes, you read that right, plants are the source of protein. The building blocks of protein are called amino acids. There are nine essential amino acids and plants produce them all. And I don’t mean one amino acid in one plant and one in the other, I mean every single crop we grow contains all essential amino acids. In sufficient quantities as well, fruit and a small number of other crops excepted. If you ever wondered where gorillas, rhinos, elephants and all other strong herbivorous animals get their protein, there’s your answer. They get it from plants.
We can do that too. In fact, you’re already doing that at every meal. You’re getting protein from all the plant-based elements of your meals, and if you were to cut out animal products completely you would still get enough protein. Regular activity levels require that we get 9 percent of our calories from protein, you can do that without thinking about it. If you work out a lot you might need more, 16 percent at the most, and that’s still easy to do. Legumes, for example, have average levels of protein of 28 percent.
So, what does the meat industry do exactly? Well, they buy food from crop farmers that already contains protein. They feed it to animals, who use some of that protein to grow. And then they kill the animals, sell you their bodies, and act like they produced protein. They did no such thing! The protein was already there. They’re nothing but protein resellers, and their second-hand protein comes with more saturated fat, less vitamins and minerals, and no fiber. They’re selling you an inferior product.
If you want to know more about protein or have questions about what I’m saying, I welcome you to read chapter 6 of my free e-book Questioning Meat. It’s completely free, I don’t even ask for an email address. Links to scientific sources are in the back of the book. I also cover all other nutrients in chapter 7 to 10, but in case you want a quick summary, this is what the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has to say about it:
“It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.”
Strength of character
Now that you know you can be physically strong without meat or other animal products, let’s talk about strength of character. Because, let’s be honest, without character you’re a weak man no matter how big your muscles are.
To be a strong man in terms of character your masculine qualities need to be well-developed. By masculine qualities I mean the qualities that are much more prominent in men than in women. According to science, those qualities are: Dominance, emotional stability, rule-consciousness and vigilance. If you think any of those traits logically leads to animal products, think again. Let’s go over them one by one.
Dominance is probably the most misunderstood quality of them all. It’s easy to think that as humans we’re the dominant species and therefore we can do whatever we want to other species. But the thing is, being born a human is not a character trait. You’re not dominant for going to the store and buying an animal that’s already dead. And you’re also not dominant for going out and killing one when there’s no real risk of getting killed yourself. Both of those actions are just safe options that don’t require you to be dominant at all.
The character trait dominance is the opposite of deference. What it fundamentally means is that you make your own decisions instead of letting others make them for you. In relationship to meat it means that no matter how many billions of dollars the meat industry spends on ads to tell you that you’re “lovin’ it” or that buying their products is having it “your way,” you still remember that it’s not up to them to decide. You choose your own way, regardless of what companies or society tells you.
Almost equally misunderstood is emotional stability. Emotional stability is about recognizing your emotions without getting carried away by every emotional impulse you have. It’s not about suppressing your emotions or closing your eyes to things that might make you feel bad. But when it comes to animal exploitation, I see a lot of men doing just that. I see a lot of non-vegan men pretending to be more emotionally stable than vegans, while at the same time blatantly refusing to watch a documentary about what actually happens to animals in the industries.
If you want to be considered emotionally stable, you need to be man enough to watch what happens in the industries you support. And when I say watch I’m talking about sitting down for a full-length documentary without making a single bacon joke. Actually watch. You’re paying for it, watching a documentary about it is the least you can do. Tune in to what those animals are going through, and then decide for yourself how you feel about that. The documentary I recommend is called Dominion, you can watch it here for free.
Of course, emotions are only one factor in decision making. Rule-consciousness is another. Rule-consciousness allows us to put our immediate self-interest aside in favor of a higher code. This is the defining trait of an honorable man. The rules in rule-consciousness can range in importance from good manners to moral principles. And obviously, in order to be honorable, you need to live by them especially when it would be easier not to.
Now, I’m not here to give you a complete moral code. But I think there’s a moral rule that we already agree on: Don’t kill for pleasure. It’s one of those fundamental moral rules. Ending someone’s life is the worst thing you can do to someone and pleasure is the worst reason to do it. And contrary to what society tells us, there’s not actually any reason not to apply this rule to animals. They want to live as much as we do, and pleasure doesn’t suddenly become a good reason when the victim doesn’t look like us. Of course, you might argue that you’re not eating animal products for pleasure, but with the health argument off the table there’s no other reason left.
Our final masculine trait is vigilance. We’re good at detecting possible threats, which comes in handy if you want to protect yourself and the ones you love and don’t want to get your belongings stolen. We can also be vigilant about threats on a larger scale, like social tensions and international conflicts. But, what many of us fail to realize, is that we can be our own biggest threat if we make unsustainable consumer choices. We are living on this planet with more people than ever, and if we all make the same mistake that mistake gets multiplied eight billion times
Animal products are that mistake. Even if we leave health and morals out of it, it’s still completely irrational. Animals have no place in food production because they don’t produce food. They eat food! If you want to make a pig gain one pound you first need to feed him/her five pounds, and the four remaining pounds get turned into shit. That’s not an inefficient way of food production, that’s actual food destruction.
Now, let’s look at it at a global scale. About 7 percent of the world’s total land surface is used to grow crops for human consumption, that land provides us with 83 percent of all our calories. The animal industries, on the other hand, require a staggering 30 percent of all our land. Some of that land is used to grow crops for animals, some if it is pasture land, and some of it is land used to house animals. All of that land combined provides us with the remaining 17 percent of all our calories in the form of animal products. If we all stopped eating animal products right now and used the land we’re currently using to grow crops for animals for ourselves, we would have more food in total and we would free up an area the size of Russia, Canada and the United States combined. We could give that land back to nature and virtually all of our environmental problems would be solved.
But if we continue, so do our problems. Did you know that there’s currently a mass extinction going on caused by us? We’ve almost eradicated wild mammals. At this moment, 36 percent of all mammals are humans, 60 percent are mammals kept in captivity by us, and only 4 percent are wild. The situation for birds is terrible as well, 70 percent of all birds are kept in captivity, only 30 percent are wild. And did you know that the animal industries are responsible for deforestation of the Amazon? Forest is cleared to create pasture land and to grow soybeans for animals. There goes our biggest rainforest. And did you know that animal shit from the industries regularly finds its way into rivers and oceans and is a main factor in creating the 500 ocean dead zones that we currently have? I could go on, but I think you get the picture. The world population is still growing and developing countries are actually increasing their animal product consumption because they’re following the West’s lead. A vigilant man would see that this is unsustainable and would try to lead the world in a different direction.
If you cut out all animal products you will be acting in the best interest of your own health, the animals, and the planet we all live on. You will not lose any masculinity by doing so. In fact, you will become a better man. You may run into some social resistance from people around you who are still misinformed, but as a strong man, I’m confident that you’ll be able to handle that. If you don’t know how to get started, read my free e-book, watch Dominion, and sign up for Challenge 22.