As we delve deeper into exploring why so many men identify with meat-eating, it’s important to consider the role that mainstream masculinity plays in our culture, and its ramifications. Does this identity pose a roadblock to sustainability? Does it undermine justice in general? Is it inevitable and in our nature? “The Evolution of Man” series is based around the article I wrote for VegNews Magazine’s “The Man Issue”. In this episode I interview Jovian Parry, a doctoral student at York University in Toronto who researches meat, gender, animality and popular culture.

There are many places we can see heightened forms of mainstream masculinity and machismo. From sports arenas and butcher shops to Wall Street, testosterone spectacles play out – but what about in prisons? And what happens when one of the most powerful symbols and rewards for men – meat, is removed from the equation? This is exactly what happened in a California prison not too long ago. With great success, Mooreland Prison offered inmates a program called NEWSTART which included a vegan diet. Over 85% of the 500 inmates chose the program over the standard CDC protocol.

California had a recidivism rate of 95%. This is the percentage of former prisoners who are rearrested. The Victor Valley facility enjoyed a recidivism rate of less than 2%… The remarkable behavioral changes could even be seen outside in the prison yard where according to prison officials, nobody “owned” or controlled the yard… The CDC side of the house had the same racial divisions experienced at any other prison.

In testimonials, inmates assert that the surprisingly good-tasting food led them to feel better, have greater energy, increased stamina and reduced problems with acne. Indeed the effectiveness of a vegan vegetarian diet in rehabilitation has been scientifically validated.