Most people are aware that adopting a meatless diet is not only good for the body, but good for the planet. It cannot be denied, however, that vegetarians and vegans often get stereotyped as granola-crunching hippies with a chip on their shoulder. Fortunately, the veggie lifestyle has become largely mainstream and accepted for what it is, a healthy and environmentally-friendly alternative.
For men, though, it is has been a bit harder to shake the stigma associated with adopting a plant-based diet. Often they are thought of as wimpy or feminine because animal protein supposedly makes you big and strong. However, “hegans,” are slowly coming out of their shells and embracing the lifestyle, shamelessly. Men are frequenting vegan restaurants and cooking vegan food for their friends, family and co-workers. The Boston Globe highlighted a number of these men in a recent article, but perhaps the most intriguing of them is Rip Esselstyn from Austin, TX. The firefighter and triathlete who helped his fellow firefighters to lower their cholesterol and get healthy with his “plant-strong” diet. In regards to his lifestyle, he said, “Sure there is a stigma attached to it, that it’s for yuppie, tree-hugging, emaciated weaklings. That is far from the truth. I like to say that real men eat plants.’’
Whether fully vegan or not, making small steps to incorporate more vegetables, fruit, protein-rich whole grains, legumes, and nuts, while reducing animal proteins, has been shown to reduce cholesterol and lower the risk for cancer and heart disease. It also is one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
To prove that vegetarians can be just as strong and manly as any meat-eater, check out professional Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier, bodybuilding and gold-medalist ski jumper Andreas Cahling, wrestler Chris Campbell, NBA player Anthony Peeler, track star Carl Lewis and four-time Mr Universe Bill Pearl to name a few.