Thursday, 8 January 2009

men=meat, women=vegetarians?

I am an unabashed carnivore. I believe in buying humanely sourced meat, but I have no moral compunction about eating animals. I think they're tasty and nourishing, and I wouldly gladly walk across hot coals naked except for a silly hat for a nice plate of bacon. I am not one of those meat eaters, however, that looks down on vegetarians or vegans. I am a live and let live type (pun totally intended).

Interestingly, at least to me, people often assume I'm a vegetarian. Now I know my canines aren't particularly pointy and I don't wear the skins of my latest kill, but why would someone assume I don't eat meat?

I think it starts with the fact that I am a self described healthy eater. And I'm in pretty good shape. And finally, of course, I am a girl. A good amount of people who meet me, possessed of those three facts, immediately ask if I eat meat or not. Now, when I meet a man who eats well and takes care of himself, I don't assume he eschews flesh. I assume he avoids potato chips. And I think most people would agree with me.

I actually don't think these assumptions are out of line. After all, the vast majority of vegan/vegetarian blogs I read are written by women.* And the vast majority of Paleo blogs I read are written by men. Women seem to gravitate towards the vegetal end of the eating spectrum.

And I think we (we as in we women) do so for a combination of reasons. For one, we have been told for years that meat, especially red meat, should be consumed in moderation. In fact, we have been told that protein in general should be consumed in moderation,a nd anyway, there are alternative sources like soy. Vegetables are also 'safe'-they are low calorie and highly nutritive. And of course, it is less cruel to kill a carrot than a cow, at least in theory. Some people just naturally prefer the taste of veggies to meat, and maybe that taste difference is grounded in the XY/XX divergence. Some have argued that the preference goes back to the fact that men hunted and brought down the meat, while women scavenged for the berries etc.

As a side rant, can someone please explain pescetarians to me? I do not understand how you can draw a principled distinction which makes it ok to kill and eat animals that swim, but not ok to do the same to animals that walk on dry land. I am open to hearing the arguments...

But the part I find most interesting is that health=vegetarianism for women, and it does not for men. Personally, I physically feel most healthy when I'm eating a significant amount of animal protein.** Yet, even though I know intellectually, and very much enjoy eating a lot of meat, I still feel a twinge, as if it's still a emotionally little counterintuitive that so much protein could be good for me. Maybe it's those double Xs...

*I love vegetarian and vegan blogs, many of which have novel ideas for preparing veggies, not to mention some damn fine writing :)
**Relative to my size, of course.

7 comments:

tokaiangel said...

I get this ALL THE TIME! Everybody thinks I'm a vegetarian, yet I have always been a meat eater. I'd never considered it to be connected to the fact that I'm known to be a healthy eater, keep in shape and am a girl.... but all these things really fit. I just assumed everyone thought I was a hippy because I have so many records and always look a bit scruffy :0)

And everyone assumes my boyfriend is a carnivore because he's such a blokey bloke, yet he is a vegan... go figure...

TA x

Cave Cooking said...

Glad to see I'm not the only one :)

Dommi said...

I can't say I totally relate... I'm a vegetarian about to turn vegan (soo stereotypical, I know ;]), but I do think that this is a really interesting subject.

Personally, I see a lot of it as being rooted in old, generational stereotypes. Especially within the past couple of decades, women have proved especially vulnerable (or perhaps just particularly targeted) to fad diets and periodic fitness crazes... we have so much more pressure than men to be thin. I think that this is why a lot more women than men are vegetarians. Meat is notoriously a high-caloric and, in many cases, high in fat. Vegetables, as you said, are very "safe", being low-calorie and very nutrient-dense.

With that being said, I totally support a woman, like yourself, who is able to break free of such a classical stereotype and prove that you can be healthy and fit and feel good about yourself while living the meat-eating life you chose for yourself!

Cave Cooking said...

Definitely to each their own, and I really believe in listening to your body, so if it's saying go vegan, than why not? Just make sure you're getting all those vitamins/amino acids :)

Sarah said...

You can't hug a fish. I think that's the driving thought behind pescetarians - they're not committing harm to anything furry/fuzzy/fluffy that might remind them of Fido.

Cave Cooking said...

Ok, I'll give you the hugging point. That's the most coherent argument I've heard in favour of pescetarianism :)

m'lissa said...

I've just struggled with this identity issue in myself. I had been vegetarian for almost 12 years and being healthy, or so I thought. My fiance discovered the paleo diet several months ago, and after he had such great results and was feeling really good, I read the books and started checking out blogs. It all made sense to me, except the eating meat part. But, the hardest part to get over was the fact that eating meat seemed less feminine to me. It felt so wierd. I've been eating meat for a couple of weeks now and feeling really great, sleeping better, my skin looks better, etc. but ordering a meat dish at a restaurant is still awkward, "do girls order their steak medium-rare?"
Thanks for writing about this, I've been feeling lame for thinking about it.