Your Thoughts Thursday: Gender

August 19, 2010 by Keri

Last week, my friend gave me a great idea for a YTT.  She told me when she and her ex-husband got a divorce people kept asking her, “Do you think he’ll stay vegan now that you’re divorced?!”  She found this insulting not only because they weren’t crediting veganism to his own personal beliefs and choices, but because he’d been vegan longer than her. This prompted her to wonder why society doesn’t give males enough credit to go vegan on their own, without a female “turning them”.  And now that she mentions it, the vegan community does seem more female.  Out of the 100+ vegan blogs I subscribe to in my reader, maybe 5 of them are males.  Of course, it’s possible that females just feel more inclined to share their lives and connect through blogging, but I have to admit the vegan population seems more female.  And what was up with that whole hegan trend earlier this year?  Vegan males were being pinned by the media as going vegan solely for reasons of vanity.  So my question is, Why do you think the general population doesn’t seem to think males can go vegan unless they’re  “doing it for a woman”?

  • If more women than men are vegan, why do you think that is?
  • Is your partner vegan because of your influence?
  • If so, are you accused of forcing your beliefs on them?
  • Or if you went vegan after your partner, are they accused of forcing theirs on you?

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  1. noelle says:

    When it comes to marriage I thinks a man is more inclined to be affected by a wifes way of eatiing so if it was of their own choice I do not think men would generally choose veganism. This comes from the men I have in my life,hubby,friends,and old schoolmates. Does this make sense?

  2. Z says:

    It’s cultural conditioning that makes it tougher for men to go vegan. It also has a lot to do with how veganism is beginning to be potrayed as this great thing you can do for yourself (purely vanity and health reasons) vs the moral argument for veganism. I think it makes it tougher (at least for most heterosexual men) to buy into that idea. From my perspective, I personally arrived at he conclusion that I wanted to go vegan for moral reasons. It’s not easy because culturally we are not bombarded with images of guys ‘choosing’ to eat vegetables. I’ve gotten comments like “ohh you’re so sensitive to the plight if animals”… like it’s a bad thing. My answer is yes I am, but more importantly, I can think clearly.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Interesting question! I have to say that I think being vegan is such a significant commitment that it’s probably not something your partner can really bully or talk you into. I end up cooking more than my spouse, so it’s true that the more I cook vegan food, the more he ends up eating it. But that doesn’t stop him from picking up a bagel and cream cheese or an omelet when he’s out. We’re both vegetarians; he’s been one longer than I have, but I have more vegan leanings. I don’t know if that has much to do with my gender. I’m definitely less comfortable witnessing violence and pain, even in theory. Maybe our culture allows women more space to feel compassion.

  4. Shanna says:

    Men are reluctant to be vegan because meat is equated with muscle. Men want to be big and muscular. They don’t want to do anything that would make them smaller. Many men who go vegan are smaller(low fat & healthy nature of the diet lends to weight loss). Most men don’t see that as attractive. Also a lot of women don’t see it as attractive either. And of course, men want to be attractive to women.

    My hubby was was vegetarian once and he got really small. Even though he felt great, he preferred a bigger physique. I have sent him stuff on vegetarian and vegan body builders but he is not interested in giving up meat.


  5. Regina says:

    My boyfriend went vegan for me. I did a lot of soul search and realized I just can;t be with someone who is not vegan. And all of this while we were dating. So I actually broke up with him because I don’t think it’s right to ask someone to give up something for you. People have to decide themselves. So he thought about it, we talked, he told me he’d been thinking of going vegan anyway, and I helped him. Do I think he’d stay vegan if we broke up, probably not. He’s a man of convenience, so planning meals is not his thing and it’d be easy to go back to being omni.

    I think males can go vegan on their own. I don’t know why society thinks half the things it does.

  6. Laura Orban says:

    Great question. I’ve experienced this as well. My husband doesn’t like to fish but family members who do fish attribute his lack of interest to me. *I* must be making him say he isn’t interested. My husband is not veg but he eats very little meat now, and our home is veg. When the subject of no meat in our house comes up, it is often framed as me making him do it, even though he was actually the initiator.

    I think people see veganism, and other actions against animal cruelty as indications that we are “sensitive”. The perception is that we “feel sorry for the animals” so we don’t eat them. And it is easier to attribute that type of emotional sensitivity to a woman. I am not vegan because the animals are cute and I want to pet them. It’s an ethical decision that is well thought out. But seeing it as emotional makes it easier for others to minimize it, and continue doing whatever they want to do. It’s both inaccurate in terms of the rationale behind standing up for animals, and sexist, but that it what I think underlies the attribution of veganism and other stands we take for animals to women.

  7. Michelle says:

    Interesting question! I’m not sure I know any more veggie women than men, but all the men I know who are vegetarian are pretty sensitive guys. Not sure if that has anything to do with it! 🙂
    My fiance actually went vegetarian just a couple of months after we started dating. I hadn’t asked him about it or anything, just one day he randomly told me that he hadn’t eaten meat in a month – I’d known he was thinking about it, but had no idea he was thinking about it so seriously! I definitely think that I was a big part of why he made that choice, but I don’t think he’d go back to eating meat if we broke up. He’s pretty passionate about it.

  8. Andrea@CeleryITC says:

    I love this discussion and am interested to read all of the replies. I’m not married, but I have dated a bit since being vegan and have found it really..crazy. Guys kept bringing up the vegan thing randomly, when we weren’t discussing food or anything. It was like it was so much of a culture shock for them that they couldn’t get over it. 🙁

    In my nutrition class we read a lot about how meat products are marketed towards men, and even how diets like Atkins broke barriers because it successfully marketed weight loss to men..through meat.

  9. Until I started blogging, I actually believed the opposite to be true: nearly all the vegans I’ve known have been guys in their late teens and twenties! Maybe Salt Lake City is a fluke that way. My ex-boyfriend was an ex-vegan, and my current partner was vegan years before I was. He had lapsed from time to time, never having investigated animal rights issues (though he has now), and when we got together, he quickly and easily went back to veganism without me ever bringing it up.
    If, in some alternate world, the two of us split up, neither of us would go back to eating animals. On his own, he chose to watch Earthlings, and he’s told me that he can’t imagine ever consuming animal products again, knowing what he now knows.

  10. Tricia says:

    From my experience, it seems that some guys think that they’ll be less masculine if they don’t eat meat because in society, a vegan man is somehow considered less of a man? And then some guys go for taste rather than health, thinking that somehow a vegetarian diet is bland (which isn’t true :)). When i became vegetarian, my dad got me some of Amy’s microwave dinners, and once he smelled them, he started eating vegetarian a few nights a week lol.

  11. ck (veggrrl) says:

    Very interesting comments. Thanks Keri and everyone for sharing!

    My boyfriend is not vegan, but he eats everything I do and likes it. He believes that society will be mostly vegan in the not so distant future because of environmental and economic pressures. He feels compassion for animals (but not fish – don’t ask why, it’s a long story!) and thinks the vegan lifestyle is healthier. He admits he is not vegan due to habit and convenience (= laziness). While I think that shows a poor dedication to one’s beliefs, hopefully our time together is changing his habits at least to some degree.

    He certainly knows how to find the Gardein now! 🙂

  12. cleaninggirl says:

    I’m not married nor have I been in a relationship for a number of years so I haven’t had to make the choice of who my partner is, I believe that we fall in love with whoever we fall in love with man, woman, meat eater, vegetarain, vegan or transextual that’s life for you you never know who you end up falling in love with.
    However *I* think that there are a good number of men out there who are vegan for their own choices be it for animals, for health or whatever but they are out there and more and more men are admitting to being vegan I know a few vegan males that blog (Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary & Michael Webber blogger for FARM) but I do think alot of vegan males don’t see the point of talking about their life on blogs ect.
    I think if I were to fall in love with a meat eater I would try and sway him to making the choice of eating less meat or going veg BUT for it to ultimatly be his choice to do that or not but I’d be willing to help him in whatever way I can.
    I actually met a vegan male who was working at a shop I go to he’d been brought up vegan and was now questioning if it was the right choice for himself as he’d never known anything else I spoke to him for a while and suggested a few books for him to read (Farm Sanctuary, Why Vegan, The Pig That Sang to the Moon, When Elephants Weep & Dominion) but I did say he really should read Why Vegan as even tho the book is over 10 years old it still holds true (it’s a British book that holds UK stats for meat consumption as well as revealing goverments entanglement with the meat industry). He told me he was going to read it as well as think very long and hard about his decision before making it.
    Being in the UK I find it hard meeting other vegeatarian/vegan males as I live in a largly meat eating population I have met a few vegeatarian males but I only know this from talking with their partners men don’t seem to be open to disscusing being veg.
    My brother’s girlfriend is vegetarian and since he’s been living with her he’s been pretty much veg but does come to my parents house a couple of times a week to have meat but he’s admitted he’d happily give up meat. My brother’s girlfriend went veg with her mum & dad. herself & her mum went veg for animals but her dad for health reasons but he’s be more than happy to go back to eating meat and has admitted as much himself.
    I really don’t know if anyone who does go vegan will stay that way many do but some don’t I think it has to be their choice & their own reasons for making the change & if they do it for all the right reasons it won’t matter if they are with someone or not with them any longer they will stay vegan BUT it ultimatly MUST be their own choice.

  13. Sava says:

    It does SEEM like more women are Vegan than men.

    I think It has something to do with the fact that stereotypically, eating meat is seen as “manly”. I dont know why, but that is my guess.

  14. Jeremy says:

    I actually found this question because I am having a hard time finding anything geared towards vegan men, and was trying to do a google search. While I admit my wife convinced me to go vegan, I was a vegetarian before we even met. I would be offended if I thought my friends or family thought I went vegan just because my wife wanted to. Do they think I have no control over my own life, whatsoever? Especially since I do the majority of the cooking, I think I have some say in my own diet. The other issues you raise are also troublesome for me. The few blogs, books, etc. that I find that are not so explicitly geared toward women are all focused on health, especially losing weight. I have been underweight my entire life (except for that brief period when I was a chubby infant). I have never had a desire to lose weight, but would actually prefer the opposite (eating may didn’t seem to help, either). I’m certain I’m in the minority, but it would be nice to find out I’m not completely alone.