My initial inspiration in becoming a vegetarian was simple: eating animals is not essential to living a healthy life and I would prefer to avoid engaging in a discordant relationship with nonhuman animals and the natural world. Theretofore, I had been an eager, indiscriminate consumer of nonhuman animals, often outfitted in leather footwear and annually swathed in my winter wool. Thenceforth, family anticipated and dreaded my finicky dietary demands and envisaged the emaciated shell of a once healthy son toiling over paltry tasks. Friends taunted me with kabobs and sushi. Others kept a close eye on my behavior lest I step on a bug or unwittingly ingest carnal victuals.Order now
While I was largely unperturbed by such petty adversity, I was perplexed by a former acquaintance’s zealous affront: “Eat your vegetables you faggot hippie!” Likewise, a fellow employee once jokingly remarked that my abstention from sharing part of a chicken with him rendered me a sissy. The revelation that not only did others find my vegetarianism amusing but indicative of my sexuality and subordinate masculinity was disquieting. The dominant culture’s feminization and concomitant derision of vegetarian men became all too clear to me upon viewing an episode of South Park at a friend’s behest.
In “Fun With Veal,” Trey Parker and Matt Stone portray Ms. Choksondik’s fourth grade class on a field trip to a “Concentrated Animal Production Operation.” Much to the children’s dismay, they discover that veal is slaughtered, anemic, “little, baby cows” (“Fun With Veal”).
Provoked by compassion, Stan, Kyle, Butters, and Cartman decide to rescue the calves from immanent slaughter and provide refuge in Stan’s bedroom. The press soon gets wind of the boys’ audacity . .prets a number of Hardee’s and Burger King commercials advocating animal consumption as indicative of a larger cultural anxiety resulting from ever broadening masculine ideals evinced by metrosexual masculinity’s popularization in recent years:
The use of beef eating as an evocation of a retrograde masculinity, one celebrating masculine norms challenged by metrosexuality and domestic participation, speaks to the vitality of existing cultural beliefs about meat as a proper male food that attains its virility through the exclusion of women. (Buerkle 88).
Buerkle claims that increasing gender egalitarianism threatens “men’s privilege and produces anxiety for some men as their status changes.
… The allusions to a retrograde masculinity in burger commercials fortifies men’s sense of self amidst masculinities fluctuating more rapidly than before” (Buerkle 89).