There is something intrinsically annoying about people’s assumptions about why people choose a vegetarian diet.
Back in the UK, whenever Partner said he was vegetarian, the guaranteed question was, ‘Is that because your wife is?’ as though he didn’t have a mind of his own.
For anyone who doesn’t know, we stopped eating meat together. And then chicken. And then fish. We made joint decisions that we were both happy with.
Or people ie men, would ask him if he wanted a bacon sandwich. Yawn.
On the other hand, he would have breakfast with other construction workers, and they would cheerfully eat a vegetarian breakfast with him, even though they ate meat. Customers often asked him if he wanted a sandwich, and would quite happily put together a vegetarian one for him without commenting on how weird he was.
I’ve heard the assumption of ‘you must be vegetarian because your wife is’ before. The implication being a) that you are only vegetarian because your wife is and b) that being vegetarian is a sort of soppy woman’s thing.
This is a particularly stupid assumption, the concept being that women can’t handle the concept of dead animals. As someone who regularly went to the bacon factory full of dead pigs, and then sliced them up and served them to customers, I think I’ve handle my fair share of dead pigs. And believe me, if you walk into any pig smokehouse they do not look like bits of nicely packaged meat sitting tidily on the supermarket shelf. They look like pieces of dead pig which is exactly what they are.
But there is an underlying concept to all this, which is, that it is tough and macho to kill animals. Some women take up hunting, shooting and fishing. They become ‘one of the boys’.
So men who don’t want to eat meat must be strange. They can’t possibly choose that themselves.
Look at the paleo craze. Lots and lots of lovely meat just like our cavemen ancestors used to hunt and eat. Same idea. They didn’t do that before they invented fire, they gathered nuts and berries, which is very wimpish is it not? Real men eat steak. Remember the ‘real men eat quiche too’ phase? Originally men were derided for eating quiche. How silly is that? If you ate quiche you weren’t a ‘real’ man.
At a Christmas lunch on a former firm, Partner left the appalling venue which catered to his vegetarian request by serving three types of potatoes (roast, mashed and boiled) to find his workmates had stuffed his pockets full of sausages. Tee hee. So funny.
On top of that, he was called gay. Because he didn’t eat meat. So let’s have a go at women for being soppy about not eating meat, and also drag in the gays. If anyone hasn’t worked this out yet, calling him gay because he didn’t eat meat was meant to be an insult.
Why do people feel the need to insult not just someone who has made a choice not to eat meat, but assume that he is therefore either gay or doing it because his woman doesn’t like eating meat? thereby insulting everyone all round.
Killing animals is macho. Dealing with dead animals is tough and macho. Gutting them, plucking feathers, slicing them up. Eating big pieces of bloody steak is macho. If you don’t like any of that you are a softy wuss. Or similar words.
Why on earth do we impart our prejudices onto diet? Online, you can read about fat gay vegan bloggers. In real life I have yet to meet one. I know a fat non-meat eating dope smoker. No idea about his sexual orientation nor do I care.
But we associate a non-meat diet with women and gays. Why? Well, I know the answer, but we shouldn’t be doing it.
How about another example of our patriarchal society, before I clear off to make bread?
Dogs. We define ourselves by our dogs. Real men have BIG dogs. Macho dogs. My father had boxers and a ridgeback. REAL dogs for REAL men. I like big dogs too but not for the same reason. Now we have a small Podenco in the pack. And my partner is perfectly happy to take him out for a walk without feeling his masculinity is affected.
And the point of this post is that prejudice and cultural conditioning is everywhere. The need to be tough and macho permeates our society.
He doesn’t like quiche very much in case anyone wanted to know.