Opinion: Is veganism targeted towards women?

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Opinion: Is veganism targeted towards women?

Photographer: Shutterstock

Photographer: Shutterstock

Photographer: Shutterstock

Laranya P., Reporter

The latest stats on veganism are out–and a whopping 79% of vegans are female, according to an informational website designed for nursing students.

But why?

Why aren’t men going vegan?

Many people have noticed the link between males and meat from a long time ago; in fact, thirty years ago, a book called The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, written by Carol J. Adams, was published. In this book, she compared women to animals, in the sense that the patriarchy oppressing both is connected. She talks about how men used to take advantage of women and dominate them while also encouraging cruel treatment and slaughtering of animals. 

Although today’s society is quite different from what it was thirty years ago, more than two-thirds of women are still more likely to go grocery shopping, and women are more likely to diet to lose weight. With pressure to be slim and pretty, women are always more food conscious than men, and reducing consumption of animal products can help lose a few kilos. Also, as livestock plays a huge role in climate change by producing 14.5% of the global greenhouse gases, many people are more motivated to go vegan. 

Of course, men also have pressures, but, in an interview, Adams declares that the differences are how much pressure there is and the way they react, “For men, the pressures are to be big, strong, heavy. Veganism taps into the conformities women are already feeling pressured to meet–being slender, healthier, losing weight – while the things men have to conform to push them away from veganism. Those repressive stereotypes of men and masculinity are just not worth arguing with because confrontation is at their core: you challenge men, and they think ‘I’m going to show you that you can’t change me’. These are cultural messages that precede veganism by a long way.”

Even if you don’t agree with Adams, it’s undeniable that eating meat is considered ‘masculine.’ There are many campaigns that have been, and are, subtly pushing men to eat meat to become more masculine. For example, McDonald’s advertised their limited sausage and bacon sandwich by telling men to eat it and ‘reclaim their manliness.’

This old gender stereotype is relatively harmless (aside from the fact that it’s become a toxic cultural norm, which males have grown up surrounded by–causing them to rely on meat to enforce their gender identity), right?

Wrong.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the number one killer of men is heart disease, which diet affects significantly. Trans- and highly saturated fats, also known as animal fats, raise the level of cholesterol in the blood, creating inflammation, and range of illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and several chronic conditions. 

The World Health Organisation has also labelled processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” and “each 50-gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%” after evaluating a collection of IARC monographs. Keep in mind that 50 grams of processed meat is just a few strips of bacon, or one hot dog! 

A lecturer at Western Carolina University and the author of The Vegan Studies Project, Professor Laura Wright, sums it up as “I can talk all day about veganism, but who cares? I’m just a woman. The only way that any of this changes is that the people with privilege in these areas recognize and renounce it. Loudly.”