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.

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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