Real Men Eat Plants

By Katie Leavitt, Tonic

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.


Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago


Michele Wilkinson

Good article.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 6 years ago

Great article. Go Vegan. Thanks.

Basim Nawaz


Angie Ringler
Angie Ringler7 years ago

If you are trying to cut down on your meat MUST try a product called Gardien (like Garden and Protien).A wonderful meat substitute, comes in several flavors, like buffalo chicken flavor. It replaces chicken and I think they have a beef. The texture is pretty right on and the flavor is great. Well worth the try. I get it at Publix grocery store it the meat freezer section, near the soy products.

Aoife O Mahony
Aoife O Mahony7 years ago

Interesting, thanks =)

Amitav Dash
Amitav Dash7 years ago

When I first became a vegetarian, I was still into body building/weightlifting and I used to love the expressions on the faces of the Mennonite farmers I'd buy fruits, vegetables, and free-range eggs from -- "You're a vegetarian?" they would ask incredulously...

Eating meat for many people is not just about taste, it's about convenience. And, that's actually a large part of what's making it harder for me to become vegan...

Betty Ing
Past Member 7 years ago

Thanks for the article - Everyone I know who has stopped eating meat says that they have more energy and rarely get sick (myself included)! Plus, I've also heard that men who eat a lot of meat are more likely to suffer from impotence - something to consider, guys!

charmaine c.
Charmaine C7 years ago

great! thank you.

Mervi R.
Mervi R7 years ago

I totally agree!