“When I walked past the butcher’s shop and looked at the bodies of the animals there, they were no longer food,” says Mark Kulsdom, owner of The Dutch Weed Burger, an Amsterdam-based company producing popular fast food products out of seaweed.
Women are twice more likely than men to be vegan or vegetarian in Western societies. They are said to be more environmentally conscious, litter less, recycle more and leave a smaller carbon footprint than men. The question remains: Why the disparity in meat consumption habits between genders? The answer sits hidden in the biological and sociological differences in gendered behaviors. In a 2018 psychology study titled Of Meat and Men: Sex Differences in Implicit and Explicit Attitudes Toward Meat, researchers Hamish J. Love and Danielle Sulikowski conclude that creatine (naturally found in meat) improves "muscular strength, size, physical, and neural performance" and protects against injury—something that men would be innately more drawn to, given their propensity for physical and risk-taking behaviors dating back to pre-agricultural times, when men hunted and women cooked and gathered
They call it 'modern warriorship.' So you fought with your fork and with your money.
At the same, following 20 years of observation, the pair believes that women are much more likely to be affected by peer pressure than men. “Someone in the group says 'I want to eat vegetarian or vegan,' the rest of the group says, 'I also want it,'” Mosche says. But that, of course, is due to the various pressures on how women are expected to eat, speak and behave. Men are more skeptical, but once they make up their minds about becoming vegan, they become convinced, even zealous about their decision. “Some men take the decision to eat vegan. And women talk about it. 'Do I do this? Do I do that?' Men just do it. And if you ask why, their whole story comes out,” explains Ammerlaan.
While women mostly choose to become vegan because of health and environmental concerns, men do it for three very distinctive reasons: For one, there are the ones who have evolved to accept that plant-based proteins can also build muscle mass and believe that plant-based proteins encourage endurance. Next, there are what the Netherlands-based researchers call “beauty vegans,” who eat vegan to achieve clearer skin and better health. And then there’re the few men like Korteweg and Kulsdom: the animal rights activists. “They call it 'modern warriorship.' So you fought with your fork and with your money,” Ammerlaan explains.
“Self-discipline is the new elite standard. You eat healthy, you go to the gym. It’s a lifestyle,” explain Ammerlaan and Mosch.
For Kulsdom, who trains in martial arts, the self-discipline required to resist eating animal-based products was connected to something even deeper. “You want to do it in an honorable way," he says. "And that means you don’t eat it. These values—self-control, respect for all living things—there is a lot of honor in that."