According to an article written by a North Carolina State University sociology instructor, veganism has strong connections to “white masculinity.”
In a piece titled “Meatless meals and masculinity,” Mari Mycek claims that men talk about their veganism in a rational rather than an emotional way — which is a way for them to “uphold gendered binaries of emotion/rationality and current ideas of middle-class, white masculinity.”
Mycek conducted interviews with 20 vegan and vegetarian men as research for the article, and said that she found the men “explaining their choice to become [vegan] in ways that evoke logics of rationality, science, and reason, concepts that also traditionally get coded as masculine.”
“These performances of masculinity are aligned with white middle-class social norms and expectations,” she writes.
For example: Mycek writes that one man told her he will “explain [his veganism] matter of fact” when it comes up, another man said he was convinced to become a vegan after reading a book by a molecular biologist, and another man said he became vegan because he wanted to do something to help the environment — which she apparently considers to be a strictly “rational” decision.
(It’s important to note that her characterization of the last man’s explanation as being a “rational” one is strictly her own opinion. After all, it’s entirely possible that this man has a very emotional relationship with the environment. It’s entirely possible that he was thinking emotionally about the environment when he made the decision to go vegan. There’s really just no way to know exactly what he meant when he was giving his explanation, which is one of the very many reasons why this is so absurd.)
Still, Mycek believes that men offering any kind of factual reasoning behind their choice to eat a vegan diet is an example of “white masculinity” — which is a bad thing, because it “bolsters the gender binary, maintaining the idea that men and women are distinctly different,” which “is not just about maintaining difference between genders but ultimately [retaining] a gender hierarchy and structures of power and inequality.”
I’m a woman, and I’ve got to admit that I feel approximately 0 percent threatened in my humanity because some dudes have decided to justify their fringe diet choice with some facts. She may claim that this is perpetuating “structures of power and inequality,” but I’m pretty sure it has had no impact on me whatsoever. What’s more, I’m far from convinced that men are the only ones who’d explain the diet this way. I’m friends with plenty of vegans on Facebook, and I’ve got to say that the female ones share articles and research supporting their lifestyle choices just as much as, if not more than, the male ones do. Perhaps the reason all of the people in her interviews gave factual reasoning for their diet was not because they are men, but because they are vegan or vegetarian people, and people are generally going to be well-armed with facts before undertaking such a massive lifestyle change.
This is not the first time that someone has come out to declare veganism problematic.
As ridiculous as claims like Mycek’s may sound, this is not the first time that someone has come out to declare veganism problematic. In May, a social-justice blogger maintained that modern veganism “completely erases” trans people. In April, a student complained in an op-ed that people need to do more to make veganism more “intersectional” and inclusive. Earlier this year, two professors wrote an article claiming that Beyoncé’s support for veganism “reproduces existing patterns of discrimination and inequality.”
Oh, and by the way — it’s definitely not as if veganism is the only diet that the social-justice crowd sees as having offensive aspects to it. In fact, last year, a professor claimed that eating meat promotes “hegemonic masculinity” and “gender hegemony.”
[This story was previously covered in an article for Campus Reform.]