Parks and Rec character Ron Swanson is known for his devotion to meat (Credit:

The relationship between masculinity and meat-eating is a complicated one. Even when more and more people are deciding to choose vegan and vegetarian diets, they are usually female.

The view that meat is macho and is essential to the essence of a man is instilled into popular culture, but an increasing number of popular male figures are putting forward their arguments for a meat-free diet.

Arnold Schwarzenegger – who for many is an icon of masculinity known for his extremely muscular physique – recently revealed he does not eat meat.

A recent documentary, The Game Changers, followed athletes including Schwarzenegger, Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Faris, and NFL star Derrick Morgan, to discuss their transition from meat protein to plant protein.

The athletes cited improvements such as increased performance, reduced injuries and quicker recovery time.

In the documentary, Schwarzenegger discussed his first-hand experience with propaganda from the meat industry during his bodybuilding days, and the myth targeted to men that meat is necessary for creating ‘manly muscles’.

The documentary also referenced archaeological studies that revealed that Roman warriors – the physique of who continues to epitomise the male ideal – were in fact vegetarian.

Assessment of the graves of 22 Roman gladiators revealed they ate a diet consisting mainly of wheat, barley, and bean – echoing a contemporary term for the gladiators ‘the barley men’.

Meat is traditionally seen as the most viable source of protein however, science does suggest that sometimes this is mythical.

Tofu’s protein to carb ratio of 3:1 is better than beef. The vegetarian and vegan diet does not only benefit the plant, but the health benefits are also wide-ranging including lower cholesterol and a reduced risk of heart disease.



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