I work in the kitchen at a sorority house on campus and in turn I get meals there every day. Recently I was eating with my friend/coworker who was complaining that there was little to no meat available that evening. It had me thinking about the long history of meat and its effects on our society today. Whenever we think about dinosaurs, everyone’s favorites are the carnivores: the T-Rexes and Raptors. Those are cool. They are tough and kill other dinosaurs. Few kids grow up admiring the eating habits of the Tricerotops or Brontosaurus. Thinking back to cavemen, the big strong men would hunt the animals and eat the meat as a reward, while the women would have their berries and whatever meat was left after all the men ate.
So if history has taught us anything, it would have to be that meat eaters are tough. They are the alphas, the dominant members of society. But one thing that my recent experience taught me is that people, specifically men are not looking at meat in the sense that “I should eat this to be tough”, they are viewing it as “If I don’t/can’t eat this then I am not tough”. It has a lot to do with the “macho” complex that men will often try to adopt, especially when they are surrounded by their peers. I can’t know for sure whether or not my friend would have shown as much opposition had I not been there, but something tells me that if his masculinity had not been a perceived issue he would have just sucked it up and had a salad.
As I mentioned before, many meat-eaters want to be on the one with the “gun”. The one with all the control. I do believe that for some, eating meat gives them a sense of dominance, whether it be over the animal that they are eating, or those around them who do not eat meat. This brings us to the vegetarian side of things. This image obviously displays a hand pointing a bloody, meaty gun, representative of the meat eating culture that we have in America. But our culture has unfortunately also taught us that if you do not eat meat, then that gun is being pointed at you. I have found that in college, especially the University of Colorado vegetarians are quite popular. I can also say that of the vegetarians that I have met here, a grand total of zero have been men. Is this a coincidence? I think not.
If you ask a vegetarian why they chose that lifestyle, the most common reason will be something pertaining to the protection of animals. So does this mean that men don’t care about animals? I am sure that there are plenty of men on this campus that disagree with the slaughtering of animals but they may not be a vegetarian. This is because the meat gun is constantly being pointed at them. The pressure for men to act manly could be said to have manifested in the consumption of meat, and these values resonate even stronger today in our society.
I hope I am not the first one to tell you, but eating meat does not make you any more of a man. There is absolutely no shame in being a vegetarian, although our society may have you believing that. Eat what you want, and if you find yourself breathing down the barrel of a meat gun, jusy fire back with dynamite sculpted out of celery.
Tsykalov, Dmitri. Hamburger Meat Handguns. Digital image. 100 Meat-Made Masterpieces. Trend Hunter, 15 Sept. 2011. Web. 3 Feb. 2013.