"My brother is trying to scale back his meat consumption. He's diabetic, and we have a bad family history (high blood pressure on Mom's side, and Daddy died of a heart attack when he was 38.) He's 24 and just realized he's not immortal. Well, his male friends are picking on him and doing things like trying to dangle bacon in front of him while he eats something veggie (and the boy *likes* bacon, too!) He found the new Burger King commercial, for some double- thick-bacon-with-cheese monster, particularly annoying--it basically suggests that a man who doesn't want to eat himself into an early heart attack ought to just turn in his bits and pieces. I can't say much to assuage his masculine pride, because I'm female. So I was wondering if there were any books or blogs or websites that address vegetarianism from a uniquely male perspective.
Also, how do you guys on this list handle that kind of pressure--or do you not feel it? I'm really curious."
[This post on a great veg-list touched me, and I wrote a long ad hoc reply below... FYI, Mark]
"I'd really love to hear from men on this list. I hope I'm not picking at too many scabs. I know I don't participate a lot, but this list seemed like a good place to start.
My brother is trying to scale back his meat consumption. He's diabetic, and we have a bad family history (high blood pressure on Mom's side, and Daddy died of a heart attack when he was 38.) He's 24 and just realized he's not immortal. Well, his male friends are picking on him and doing things like trying to dangle bacon in front of him while he eats something veggie (and the boy *likes* bacon, too!) He found the new Burger King commercial, for some double- thick-bacon-with-cheese monster, particularly annoying--it basically suggests that a man who doesn't want to eat himself into an early heart attack ought to just turn in his bits and pieces.
I can't say much to assuage his masculine pride, because I'm female. So I was wondering if there were any books or blogs or websites that address vegetarianism from a uniquely male perspective.
Also, how do you guys on this list handle that kind of pressure--or do you not feel it? I'm really curious.
Thanks a lot in advance.
Blessed be, xxxxx"
You are an amazingly compassionate sister to your brother, and deserve much praise for caring so much. Going veg as a male, with all the propaganda promulgated by food corporations isn't easy. I learned years ago to just ignore it, politely, and hope that someday they will "get it."
I've been a "male-veg" for 25 years (4 of which has been vegan), and I started out "veg" in Dallas, Texas... believe me, there are few more intimidating macho-places to go veg in and not suffer the "slings and arrows" of those who just don't understand. I was ridiculed, laughed-at, sworn-at, and threatened.... (granted, I was studying my 3rd form of karate at the time and that helped).
I used to "feel the pressure" but, with the help of interacting with so many other veg'ns, I just blow it off these days and try to provide positive energy or subtle suggestions to those who just don't undertand.
Let me offer some advice/suggestions to/for your brother, in no particular order:
1) in the larger scheme of things, and life, it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks... you must follow the path that you believe is correct, knowing full well that there are those who will disagree, ridicule, and attack what you believe (especially if it is something outside the norm). In your early 20's, the laughter of friends won't matter in your 30's or later. Think of it: does what a kid said to you in the 3rd grade matter NOW? Put it all aside. Let it flow around you. It deserves no frustration nor excessive attention.
2) you must "arm yourself" with knowledge. Do you homework. Have the facts at hand. There are many websites and books that offer a tremendous amount of information and scientific fact regarding veg'nism and plant-based nutrition. Educate yourself; if nothing else, for your own well-being, and secondarily to be able to offer irrefutable facts to those who would openly question your actions. I'll list some information sources below as a starting point. Learn a good "30 second polite rebuttal" (to paraphrase Howard Lyman) in which you can give someone, politely, the basic reasons or facts for going veg, if the timing seems right (and that's important).
As a diabetic, it's particularly important that your brother research the nutritional issues very carefully (see the PCRM link below) and be willing to ask experts online or offline for advice as necessary. There are many forums and mechanisms available on the 'net for this, and they should not be neglected in moving towards a healthier lifestyle (and it's not just diet, it's how you live your life).
3) I went through the "bacon-dangling" stuff in Texas, and a few years ago, a similiar experience with my Dad (see my post at). Composure. Smile, and don't let it bother you. It DOES NOT MATTER. If you don't react, they don't get their kick or satisfaction.
4) think of it: every day there are studies being published about the health benefits of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.... when have you seen any study that says "eating meat prevents cancer" or "eating meat reduces obesity?" That's because the're aren't any. Learn the basics.
5) there is a male attitude that believes eating meat is strength, but then, gorillas are vegan (and clearly not weak in strength and stamina). Again, learn the facts. Gorillas are vegan (no eggs, cheese, meat... maybe some insects now and then). Are they weak?
6) there are health, environmental, religious, and animal rights-related reasons to go veg. Know them.
7) learn how to cook veg... set that example (and, ahem, women love it when a guy can cook). There are many resources online and off that can help you. Be versatile, creative, and enjoy it. I've had many girlfriends go veg from my just setting a good example.
God yes, it is frustrating to see what people eat who haven't learned, to see what's pushed on television and advertisements, but that is ancillary to the big issue: focus on what YOU can do BEST for YOUR body. Boost your immune system, eat many colors and whole grains, and limit consumption of processed foods. Above all, do your homework. Educate yourself to be able to not only do what's best for you, but to be able to communicate that to others IF the opportunity presents itself.
Yeah, I get upset about the commercials and ads, but I've learned to try and focus on what I can do for myself and others that is positive. You can't change Madison Avenue (yet). BTW: I've met very few women who think that I'm "weak" because I'm vegan... my energy shows otherwise.
I've had two colds in 25 years since going veg, that's it. I figured out what works best for my body, independent of what the mainstream press or peer pressues says, and I'm staying with it.
The trick is to figure the same out for yourself. Find out what makes you feel the best, operate the best, work the best, rest the best, and live the best. Don't do anything stupid, though, do the research. The Internet makes it easy.
As to anyone who disagrees with you, just smile. Be cooperative, if possible, positive if available, and offer good suggestions for alternatives if they are receptive. Nothing works better than setting a good example. What others think about your diet is totally irrelevant to YOUR life. Live YOUR life the way YOU want to. And do it in an intelligent way.
As to the to others, when they eventually begin to catch on or ask questions, be prepared to help and offer good advice without malice. It will happen... be patient. I've had hard-core carnivores approach me years later and quietly ask me how they can cut back their consumption of meat.
You are not alone. Network with others offline and in the real world who think the way you do. It will be synergistic to all concerned. It's really helpful, should you be so predisposed, to work with other people and groups to promote what you believe. In unity there is strength; in those eforts there is spiritual and social satisfaction in changing the world "bit by bite."
Above all, do NOT be discouraged... link spirtually, mentally, digitally, emotionally, and physically with others who are doing what you are endeavoring to do. All will benefit.
Best wishes, and admiration, for your efforts to improve your life, Mark
http://www.madcowboy.com (I'm webmaster... some 10,000 veg recipes linked here)... check out the newsletter... Howard's an inspiration to us all.. 4th generation cattle rancher now VEGAN... ain't no one who's met him would consider him weak or feminine)
http://www.pcrm.org (great organization with lots of useful veg info)
http://www.peta.org (okay, if you don't get into the animal thing, fine, but there's lots of nutritional info here)
http://www.soulveggie.org (my blog... several informational/recipe sources, links, and facts available here)