What Sausage-Weilding Neo-Nazis Want

Why did a group of meat-skewer wielding and sausage-wearing Neo-Nazis attack people at a tiny vegan cafe that opened just a year ago in the outskirts of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia?  Two cafe employees were physically assaulted while customers and others had meat thrown at them. What some see as comical at first, has a darker side.


Meat-eating is so closely tied to common definitions of traditional masculinity (hunting, sacrifice, killing, control) and this eruption of violent, meat-wielding men communicates that refusing meat is refusing access to a potent symbol of macho power. But that’s not all.

Refusing meat is refusing access to a potent symbol of macho power.

Historically, refusing power is seen as worse than pitiful, it is contemptible. I imagine that a sausage-wielding, neo-nazi leaning, Georgian nationalist believes, like the Third Reich concluded, that the threat of weakness should be stamped-out and eradicated like a contagious infection.

Flesh is a sacrosanct reward for maintaining the status quo: mainly patriarchy, the roles of the traditional family, and a speciesist hierarchy. I think this display reveals that when veganism is introduced into machismo cultures, it hits a deep nerve with a lot of people because it removes a pillar of male identity. Without meat, are men real men?

Recently there has been a significant amount of homophobic sentiment in Georgia, and often giving up meat is seen interchangeable with giving up masculinity. As we’ve discussed in the past here on The Discerning Brute, there is a definite connection between anti-LGBTQ sentiment and meat-pride.

According to Radio Free Europe, the group being accused of involvement with the attack, Georgian Power, “had come to the neighborhood a month earlier and asked a nearby shopkeeper whether foreigners or members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community frequented the cafe.”

This doctor is researching why men are so scared to give up meat.

The American Psycological Association published Real Men Don’t Eat (Vegetable) Quiche: Masculinity and the Justification of Meat Consumption by Hank Rothgerber.

The University of Chicago Press’ Journal of Consumer Research highlighted the phenomenon of masculinity in association to meat: Why Do Male Consumers Avoid Vegetarian Options?

The Discerning Brute on Masculinity & Meat

New Study Finds Meat-Centric Masculinity is Barrier for Achieving Sustainability


A new study that will appear in the journal Apetite this June (2015), is calling on the meat-masculinity link as a barrier to sustainability. This is something we’ve been talking about for years at TheDiscerningBrute.com, and it’s nice to see it confirmed in a scientific journal:

The achievement of sustainability and health objectives in Western countries requires a transition to a less meat-based diet. This article investigates whether the alleged link between meat consumption and particular framings of masculinity, which emphasize that ‘real men’ eat meat, may stand in the way of achieving these objectives.

The study specifically looked at 18-35 year old men in the Netherlands. Chinese Dutch, Turkish Dutch and native Dutch adults were the subjects of the study, which found that cultures with the biggest gender differences, had the strongest link between meat-eating and masculinity. In this case, it was the Turkish-Dutch men who showed the strongest link, and native Dutch men who had the least gender differences and the weakest of meat-masculinity link.

The findings suggest that the combination of traditional framings of masculinity and the Western type of food environment where meat is abundant and cheap is bound to seriously hamper a transition to a less meat-based diet. In contrast, less traditional framings of masculinity seem to contribute to more healthy food preferences with respect to meat. It was concluded that cultural factors related to gender and ethnic diversity can play harmful and beneficial roles for achieving sustainability and health objectives.

• The American Psycological Association published Real Men Don’t Eat (Vegetable) Quiche: Masculinity and the Justification of Meat Consumption by Hank Rothgerber.
• The University of Chicago Press’ Journal of Consumer Research highlighted the phenomenon of masculinity in association to meat: Why Do Male Consumers Avoid Vegetarian Options?
• The Discerning Brute on Masculinity & Meat

Are Some Chefs Tools?

We talk a lot about masculinity and the powerful symbology that meat-eating has within our culture here at The Discerning Brute. We also discuss how strongly the tools of meat preparation resonate with those seeking to exhibit masculine power. From big knives and sharp, heavy cleavers to tenderizers and grinders, this is nothing short of a shiny, dangerous arsenal designed to dismember, shred and slice flesh. And like the “Meat Business Rock Stars” banner that was flying at Brooklyn’s Meatopia event, the message is often “beware”.

Most recently, Esquire.com  – known for their celebration of meat-induced masculinity, launched a new show called “Knife Fight“. The ad that I’ve seen plastered up around New York City subways shows two tough-guy chefs, arms crossed, wielding knives with the bloody heads of pigs resting on cutting boards below them. This pig-head meme is a popular one, and it we see it within nearly every food publication and it has even bled into the art world. Most young chefs worth their weight in foie gras seem to line up for the opportunity to be photographed with a knife in one hand and a pig’s head in the other, with a delicately blood-splattered apron, in moody, baroque lighting, riding a fine visual line between hero and villain.

The suggestions that images like these make are complicated. We are asked to think of the subjects as stoic and masculine – doing the hard work that must be done of bringing home the bacon –  but we are also told, through eye contact and the readiness of their weapons, that they can harm or kill, which is a clear performance of power, telling us to take heed. The head of the pig is displayed as the centerpiece and focal point in images like this, like the recent New York Times article, The Proper Way to Eat a Pig“, where the subject is photographed with the head on a platter. Whether or not it’s an homage to Caravaggio’s Beheading of St. John the Baptist, we are asked to recognize the face as a primary element, and like our own human face, to see it as the sacred vessel of personality. To acknowledge and celebrate the face is to both acknowledge that the pig was a subject of perception; one who had an inner life. And it is in this celebration of the face that we find one of the most perplexing disconnects of carnism. The head then becomes the ultimate sacrifice, and is transformed into a ritualistic object. Like the Korean pig head ritual, it grants power to those using it. This visual is used to shock because it is shocking to see the victim’s face. It is intended to disgust because there is subconscious desirability around the power of doling out that which is gruesome.

Ultimately, all of the drama, mood and posturing in an effort to showcase power collapses under one simple fact that Carol Adams pointed out so eloquently: it is only a performance of power against the already powerless.



Weathered Belts, Broken Records & South Korea’s Dog Days


• If you like the look of an old, weathered and beat-up leather belt, you’ve probably been disappointed with the vegan selections thus far. In comes CLIFF belts to the rescue, made from cork. The cork is lightweight, strong, and the belts are reversable. So put a cork in it and go buy one. Eventually, you can even build your own. According to the CLIFF website:

Cork is environmentally preferable to leather as it comes from a lower carbon impact source (tree bark) and does not use animal products in its manufacture (a vegan product). The environmental concerns associated with leather include the energy and carbon intensity of generating animal products and the chemicals used in the leather tanning process that can be damaging to human health and the environment. Cork is a naturally beautiful and greener alternative to leather.

Eat Smart Chart. Eat smart your food choices affect the climate
Look! Colorful scienc-y stuff!

• I feel like a broken record. A new environmental study urges people to eat far less meat and cheese.  This one is interesting, though. Unexpectedly, the biggest offender when it comes to GHG emissions is lamb! Lamb is a whopping 50% worse than beef. Damn! What sicko eats a defenseless, cuddly baby, anyway? Macho men, that’s who – guys who are tough enough to stand up to a dangerous creature like a lamb! Take that you puffy, fluffy, gentle threat to my manhood.

The deadly creature in question

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health, a comprehensive study warning Americans that the extreme amounts of meat and cheese we eat take a huge toll on the environment, animal welfare and human health. Meat and dairy products require more energy and resources to produce, and generate more toxic waste and pollution than equivalent amounts of potatoes, rice, beans and other plant-based foods. According to the EWG, if everyone in the U.S. chose vegetarian foods over meat or cheese for just one day a week, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road per year.

• Every year, two million homeless or captured South Korean dogs are butchered and eaten. They are often electrocuted, strangled, or bludgeoned to death and are then skinned, chopped up, and boiled. The cruelty and suffering endured by these dogs is unimaginable. Even though the country’s Animal Protection Law, which was passed in 1991, considers dogs to be “domestic pets, officials often turn a blind eye and allow this to continue . Click here to find out more and help.

A dog rescued in 2010 from South Korea’s meat trade In Defense of Animals

Men Like Sports II

After I posted the previous entry, I got so many letters asking about vegetarian and vegan men in sports. Do they exist? Are they strong? Can they build muscles? These aren’t silly questions. We live in a meat obsessed culture with it’s masculinity largely defined by meat-eating. It’s no surprise that we’ve been taught to believe we need animal products to be healthy. However, we can be healhty and strong on a plant-based diet as well. For example, Vegan Bodybuilder Alexander Dargatz is featured on veganbodybuilding.com.


You can get beefy without eating beefy. I’ve been vegan for over a decade and I am able to build muscle, too. There are also scores of veg ladies who are packing heat – like Six-time Ironwoman Ruth Heidrich, Tennis champ Martina Navratilova, and bodybuilder Kailla Edger.

This week ESPN asks Who says you have to eat meat to be a successful athlete?” Profiling Milwaukee Brewers slugger Prince Fielder, Kansas City Chiefs star Tony Gonzalez, UFC Fighter Mac Danzig, Minnesota Twins Baseballer Pat Neshek, and ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, this article shows men in some of the most physically demanding sports who are shattering the illusion that you have to eat milk and meat to be strong (thanks to Karen of Dawnwatch).

Also this week, Mens’ Fittness Magazine chose the vegan, mixed martial arts, UFC champion Mac Danzig for their cover story entitled “Fittest Guys in America”. His interview starts right off about his veganism. read the full interview here. To learn more about Mac, read my original article about him here.

For other resources on being veg in sports, check these links:

Vegan Bodybuilding

Vegan/Vegetarian Athlete Articles & Links:

Seattle PI on Scott Jurek: Seattle man amazes everyone in 135-mile marathon–including himself

Vegetarian Sports Nutrition (summary at right)

Vegetarian Diet for Exercise and Athletic Training and Performing – Andrews University Nutrition Department

Vegan Cycling

Vegan Adventure.com

Carl Lewis on Being Vegan

Vegan Triathlete – no age barrier

Veg Athlete a discussion forum at VegSource.com

Vegetarian Action

Vegan MD.com by Dr. Michael Greger

Information on Vegan Diet by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

Vegetarian Nutrition Articles by Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG)

Vegan Society.com

Partial list of vegan/vegetarian athletes