Meat and Masculinity Politics

Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 12.34.08 PM.png“Real men eat meat!” “A man’s job is to bring home the bacon.” “Milk makes you strong.” Sigh. The rhetoric we’ve heard since childhood. I grew up in the early 2000s a huge WWF fan. I remember being convinced that if I’d consume more and more milk, I’d become as strong, as American, as man as Kurt Angle—the all-american posterchild and mascot for the dairy industry.

The guidelines preset by our society that govern maleness and masculinity are as toxic as the meat (and dairy) consumed to uphold these false ideas. A study in t
he Journal of Consumer Research observed conversations using metaphors with foods; including meat, milk, and vegetables. They found both men and women rated meat as more masculine than vegetables.  The consumption of animal bodies was depicted as more masculine than diets exclusionary to eating meat. Conversations around meat, across 23 different languages that use gendered pronouns, generated words closely associated with machismo.

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With the consumption of meat so closely associated with masculinity in our society, men are lead to believe that the more meat one consumes, the more man one is, or becomes. Forfeiting meat from ones diet becomes internalized as forfeiting ones manhood. In a society that juxtaposes strength, courage, and bravery with balls, and weakness with pussy, it’s no wonder there’s a large disparity in the female to male ratio in the animal rights movement.

Conditioning through consistent targeted advertising is largely responsible for the false relationship between meat and manhood.


Deconditioning a mindset takes work. Decolonizing our thinking takes work. The meat and dairy industry—with the support and subsidization from our government—has worked to tap into our thinking and influence our lives from childhood. Whether it’s your favorite wrestling superstar guzzling two quarts of milk every week on television or only having the option of cows milk (in 3 different variations) for every meal in grade school from kindergarten to 12th grade, consumption without thought becomes normal.

Men have been fooled to believe that, somehow, consuming hormone imbued flesh of female mammals, the breastmilk of female cows, and the eggs of female chickens that they are emblazoning the definition of manhood. Issa lie. But it’s these type of invisible lies that are right in our face, so obvious, yet unquestioned, unconsidered that uphold these dominant power structures. The irony is, in the same society that encourages eating animals and closely relates gender with genitalia, no one’s telling men that these animal-based foods will eventually stop their penis from working….

Imagine a society that spread truth instead of lies. Instead of ‘milk makes the body strong’ they told us, “Milk makes the dick weak.” “Got Milk?”…Got erectile dysfunction?

Aside from murdering animals for consumption, there’s even worse: killing for the sake of killing. 91% of hunters/poachers are men. And that’s not including the other “blood sports” that involve coercing animals to visciously destroy each other—also usually fascilitated by men.


Animal agriculture is already responsible for 80% of deforestation; killing off the last of the wild life after you cut down their home for cattle grazing and feed crops is just twisting the knife.

To contribute to the meat and dairy industry is to actively support and sustain an industry that exploits and fetishizes women whilst promoting patriarchy
and male dominance. We’ve become so far disconnected from reality, murdering vulnerable, innocent animals in their natural environent is celebrated and deemed a “sport”. At what point in our history did cruel and cowardice become mistaken for bold and brave? The same reason meat is marketed to men and associated with maleness, is the same reason we find Masc4Masc on faceless Grindr profiles of shirtless men flexing their muscles: it’s a subscription to patriarchy.

Veganism is a power-tool for liberating us from toxic gender stereotypes.

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