There are few things more closely linked to manliness than eating meat and lifting weights. Pumping iron and eating steak are and have long been tightly associated with masculinity, and one must wonder how many men do the latter for the sake of appearances, suppressing messages from their conscience about the immorality of eating animals.
It’s important, therefore, to do what we can to redefine masculinity in terms that are friendly to veganism. Or, at the very least, we should work to dissociate eating meat from what it means to “be a man” by showing people that you can be burly, manly, and vegan — all at the same time.
I occasionally do this — or try to — when I go to the gym. Most days I wear a plain t-shirt, but once in a while I’ll wear my “Love animals – don’t eat them” or “Vegan” tee. On those days, I tend to lift heavier than normal. I’m no John Oberg or Patrik Baboumian, but I can pull some weight.
Here’s me deadlifting 330 lbs – at that time a new personal record:
During these sessions, I wonder what people think — or if they even notice my somewhat obnoxious vegan advertisement. If they lift heavier than me, they probably don’t think very much of it; they might actually thank meat and animal products for their ability to be stronger than me.
But if they don’t — and I’m happy to report that I’m not the weakest person in the gym — I imagine that they might reassess the common misconception that vegans are necessarily weak. After all, if you’re calling someone that pushes around more weight than you do weak, then what would that make you?
But mostly, I hope that they can see that being a man doesn’t mean you have to eat meat, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t care about how your actions affect others. There is no sacrifice to your health nor physique inherent in going vegan. In fact, you can be a “soyboy” and lift just as heavy as anyone else.
I hope that by doing something as small as wearing a t-shirt, I can show people that you don’t have to want to kill things to be a man; one can be compassionate, conscientious, vegan, and manly, all at the same time. Having a beard certainly helps.