Written by Donat a/k/a The Vegan Hubby
I’ve been directly told this statement quite a number of times over the past few years, and perhaps I even believed it myself at one point, but is it really true?
So guys can’t be vegans. Or so I’m told. But why not? Sure there are physiological differences between men and women but are they so stark that they have to eat completely different diets? Some of the arguments that I’ve heard are:
a) “Men need more protein!”
b) “There are things [emphasis mine] inside meat that your body NEEDS that you can’t get elsewhere”
c) “What about eggs?!? There’s nothing wrong with eggs!”
d) “Cows get mastitis if they are not milked. You are hurting cows!”
e) “It’s just not natural!”
There are many many more similar reasons that I have been told as reasons for why I, as a man, cannot be healthy as a vegan but let’s explore these for now:
a) The first statement is true. As a general rule, men are bigger and have more muscle that women on average and that means that they require a higher intake of protein for tissue building, etc. However, as a general rule, men also consequently eat more than women and the same goes for a vegan man. There are plenty of vegan sources to complete protein from, guys just need to eat more of them then women, which is pretty obvious to me and seems like a very easy fix. It’s the same as saying “Men need more calories!” Same concept.
b) The argument that there are “things” in meat and dairy that men’s bodies need always sounded so silly to me. What are these magical things? Why can they never actually name what these things are? It’s true that meat and dairy have certain saturated fats and cholesterol, which no plant-based foods have but since when do we need either one of those things to be healthy? Your body produces all the cholesterol you ever need and there are tons of good plant-based fats around. There’s also a solid amount of hormones and antibiotics found in meat and dairy… maybe that’s what they are referring to?
c) A single egg contains over 70% of your daily value of cholesterol. When was the last time you ate just one egg at a time? Add to the mix the hormones that chickens are given and the humanitarian aspect of the conditions that they are in and you get plenty that is wrong with eggs.
d) Cows are kept artificially pregnant so they continue milking until they age and no longer have the strength to stand up. I think we should be under no delusion that we are doing them any favors.
e) Natural is something has been rather distorted over the past couple of hundred years. The same beef, poultry or seafood is no longer natural because they have been unnaturally bred, fed and processed. Yes our ancestors ate these animals, but they also ate them in considerably smaller quantities than we eat them now and they were not genetically modified, injected with hormones/antibiotics and fed unnatural food (i.e. cows and salmon fed corn and soybeans). So in order to cope with an unnatural environment, we must adapt with a different diet. While a vegan diet may not have been as viable many years ago, it most certainly is now with a global food market, giant supermarkets and new processes such as refrigeration, technology and packaging.
I have yet to hear a compelling argument for why a man cannot thrive on a vegan diet. Until I do, and I’m not going to hold my breath on that one, I am going to continue to eat a varied, wholesome, plant-based diet that seems to be working very well.