Posted in Health

Over the past couple of years, veganism has gone from a frequently mocked and seemingly unappetizing dietary choice to one of the fastest growing lifestyle movements ever.

While veganism can seem restrictive at first, with a little time, research, and imagination you’ll learn to recreate and enjoy all your favorite savory, cheesy dishes, sans animal products. Being vegan certainly requires extra effort, but choosing chickpeas over chicken can provide health benefitshelp lower your carbon footprint, and, obviously, promotes animal welfare.

With new plant-based treats coming out all the time, entirely vegan grocery stores opening, and more restaurants adding vegan options to their menus, it’s clear that this movement is only going to get stronger from here — and women are leading the charge.

Why have women begun embracing this lifestyle? And what’s stopping men from doing the same?

Nearly 30 years ago, Carol J. Adams published The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, in which she argued that the oppression of animals and women is connected. Adams stated that the same patriarchal system that encourages men to dominate, exploit, and abuse women also promotes the needless killing and consumption of animals.

Whether or not you side with Adams’ theories, it’s clear that advertising campaigns have played up the idea that eating meat is masculine. On top of corporations upholding the idea that real men would always choose steak over salad, vegetarian and vegan men are often stereotyped as docile in comparison to men who eat meat.

Popular beliefs about how men should eat likely has an impact on the disparity between the number of male and female vegans. But there are other reasons that women might be more likely to go vegan: women are more likely to be responsible for grocery shopping and cooking for their household, so they may be more inclined to research healthy eating options and try veganism. Women are also more likely to go on a diet for weight loss than men, and since cutting down on animal products can help shed a couple pounds, a certain percentage of women are probably choosing this lifestyle to slim down.

This also is probably one of the most prominent myths about vegan women – that they are all thin! It’s true that vegans have a lower body mass index on average, but this doesn’t mean that a healthy vegan diet will automatically cause women to shed pounds. Certainly, many women do lose weight when they switch to a plant-based diet, but weight loss also depends on what a woman’s diet was like before she went vegan, coupled with myriad of genetics and environmental factors. Weight management is so complex and our understanding about it is constantly evolving.

In addition to improving their personal health, some women may be interested in veganism because it’s more sustainable on an individual level than eating meat, and we’re disproportionately affected by climate change. While an entirely vegan population is likely impossible, and may not be the most efficient use of available land, working towards a world where plant-based diets are the norm rather than a rarity would certainly be better for the environment overall. Why wouldn’t we want to side with a movement that works in our self-interest? So, let’s drop the stereotypes, be a little kinder to each other, and make 2020 the year that veganism becomes acceptable for everyone.

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