Canadian women are 60% more likely than men to call themselves vegan or vegetarian. The reasons are related to complex concepts of masculinity and male fears of losing strength. But to get caught, you don’t need steak. You could also be better without it.

Of meat and men

It is one of the trends in the fastest growing in Canada: 27 percent of Canadians say they think about switching to a vegetarian diet and 11 percent are considering becoming completely vegan.

However, there is an amazing gender divide. Across North America, it is mainly women who become of plant origin.

The complex reasons deeply reach the psyche of men.

In the 1990s, scholar Carol J. Adams discussed The sexual politics of the flesh (Continuum, 1990, 1999) that veganism is associated with traits such as empathy and compassion. Western culture associates these traits with femininity, while masculinity is linked to the domination and consumption of animals.

A recent study agrees, finding that men are more likely to associate meat with ideas like “healthy”, “powerful” and “manly”.

But some kids are finding the opposite is true: going plant-based helps them be healthier, more powerful, and more manly than ever.

Are you afraid, brother?

Masculinity is so interwoven with the meat that one researcher found that most of the men refrained from ordering plant-based food in social circles for fear of being teased.

Get caught by the plants

Arnold Schwarzenegger once used the phrase “hit like a vegetarian” as an insult. But this stereotype is ending. “I’m slowly getting off the meat and I can tell you I’m feeling fantastic,” he said in an 2016 interview.

Schwarzenegger continued to appear in the new plant-based documentary, The Game Changer (2018). Griff Whalen also appears in the film, a great football player who has played with numerous NFL and CFL teams.

“A healthy plant-based diet had an extremely positive effect on both my athletic performance and overall health,” says Whalen. He says that thanks to his plant-based diet, he has seen his speed improve and he feels stronger and thinner.

But I’m Schwarzenegger, Whalen and the rest of The Game Changer simply launch anomalies?

Harder Better Faster Stronger

The latest research shows that earning your v-card and becoming vegan brings many benefits for men. For example, just as Whalen has experimented, a study conducted on nearly 61,000 adults has found that it is one of the best ways to stay fit and slim.

Staying thin doesn’t just help you get to the much-vaunted six pack. It can also increase testosterone levels, the male sex hormone responsible for sexual health, growth and muscle strength.

And if muscle growth and athletic performance are important to you, you’re in luck. According to the American Council on Exercise, going plant-based is a natural choice for those who love endurance sports, because a vegan meal tends to be richer in carbohydrates.

It is also a good choice for guys who want muscle, like Nimai Delgado and other famous bodybuilders in attendance The Game Changer attest. “Yes, you can only build and maintain muscle with plant-based foods,” encourages Dr. Keith Ayoob, nutritionist and dietician.

There are some caveats. If you are looking to build mass and gain mass, you may need to eat a little extra. And then there’s the question about protein.

How many proteins do you need?

If you train, tip each day from 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The best sources of vegan protein are legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds and synthetic meat products.

You complete me

Protein is the building block of muscle, both in terms of growth and post-workout recovery. There is only one problem for vegans.

“Most plant-based proteins are incomplete proteins,” says registered dietitian Amanda A. Kostro Miller. “That means they don’t offer all the essential amino acids you need.”

While a common concern, fortunately it is unfounded. If you eat a variety of foods during the day, you will provide your body with all the essential amino acids you need.

“Men can still get all the essential amino acids from plant-based proteins,” says Kostro Miller. “Just diversify the protein intake of plant origin. For example, peanut butter with whole wheat bread creates a well rounded amino acid profile.”

But no discussion of vegan protein is complete – pun intended – without mentioning the large soy elephant in the room.

The sword

“Soy protein is [one of] the only proteins of plant origin as complete as a protein of animal origin ”, underlines Kostro Miller. Others include quinoa, hemp seeds and chia seeds. Yet soybeans are often defamed by boys for containing estrogen.

For example, when a major American fast food chain launched a new soy burger last year, alarmists proclaimed that eating these burgers would provide men’s breasts. Similar concerns exist for tofu, soy milk and other products.

And while soy contains a type of plant estrogen (called phytoestrogens), more recent research shows that soy is beneficial and, in the worst case, neutral. The Harvard School of Public Health explains that past conflicting conclusions about soy were due to differences in the way the study was conducted or in the type of soy used in the study.

This doesn’t make soy perfect. Some products are highly processed and most Canadian soybeans are genetically modified. But it won’t reduce your muscles or threaten your manhood.

Where to start

Going completely plant-based can seem daunting. Start small on Monday without meat or simply by changing a couple of meals.

“Simply increasing the number of plant-based meals per week can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension and other chronic diseases,” says Ayoob. “Everyone should strive to integrate at least one or two vegetarian dinners per week.”

Muscular benefits

Live longer

Plant-based boys live on average seven years longer than their meat-eating friends.

Protect your prostate

Vegan diets reduce the risks of prostate cancer and increase the chances of surviving.

You’re better off in bed

Plant-based eating is strongly associated with better circulation, blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Doctors claim that this can help you strengthen your erections and love life.

Feel happier

Less meat is associated with improved mood and feel happier.

Accelerate your sperm

Most of the saturated fat is animal fat. Saturated fat reduces the sperm count by a whopping 41 percent. Processed red meat is especially lethal for your swimmers.

Supplements to activate your inner Hulk He-gan

Protein powder

Most guys cheated big tubs of whey protein, but vegetable-based alternatives such as pea protein and rice protein have been shown to support muscle strength as effectively.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAA supplements are often used by athletes after workouts to provide energy to the muscles and aid protein metabolism.

Creatine

Creatine is one of the most well-studied and most popular supplements in the world for enhancing strength and power. It is naturally found only in animal tissues, but vegans can opt for a supplement.

Omega 3

These healthy fats have numerous benefits, including assistance with post-workout recovery. Instead of fish oil pills, try alternatives like linseed oil or seaweed extracts.

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