There's room for all God's creatures, right next to my mashed potatoes...

The other night at Buzzy’s 8 Ball Tavern & Pool Room, home of the all-day Happy Hour, the big argument at the corner booth was; Is a bone-in ribeye steak really better, and hence worth the extra coin, than a boneless ribeye?

As with most debates or pointed discussions at Buzzy’s, nobody really cared about the answer… the conversation’s the thing. And, as with all conversations at Buzzy’s, everybody had an opinion, including a couple regulars who are vegetarians.

Because at Buzzy’s we respect everybody’s God given right to express themselves, we sat and listened as the non-meat eaters explained to the carnivores why beef, really meat in general, is bad for us, our environment, the planet and, of course, those really tasty animals. We managed to pay attention up to the point where they began talking about the levels of methane gas produced by animals raised for food, at which point the discussion devolved to a series of fart jokes. After that, the vegetarians gave up.

Now here’s the thing. I really don’t care what you choose to eat…and I suspect you feel the same about what I stuff in my piehole.  But for some folks, it’s not that simple. For some, the act of grabbing an In-N-Out Burger isn’t just about a pit stop for a bag of deliciousness, it’s an act of aggression. Specifically male aggression. And hegemony. Let us not forget hegemony.

For me, and all the men and women I know who are still carnivores, we wish the vegetarians well.

I speak, of course, of the academic Journal of Feminist Geography.  This journal publishes a wide variety of well-researched and interesting scholarly pieces and, as with any academic publication, it’s way over my head. The closest I typically get to academic reading is a Chilton’s manual.

But the other day, while at the library killing time at the card catalogue, I spotted an intriguing article titled “Doing Vegetarianism to Destabilize the Meat-Masculinity Nexus in La Plata, Argentina.”  This, I thought to myself, looked almost as promising as the last article I had read in this same journal; “Knit and Resist: Placing the PussyHat Project in the Content of Craft Activism.” Intrigued, I used my often remarked upon ability to manipulate the Dewey Decimal System and quickly tracked down the November 2017 issue of the journal.

Settling into one of the beanbag chairs in the Betty-Anne Braithwaite Reflective Reading Room, recently redone after a sizeable donation from Betty’s children Barbara and Horace, I quickly realized that the author is one of those folks who can’t just let me eat my burger in peace.

As a vegetarian, a feminist and a PhD candidate, the author spent several years in Argentina, which as any person worth their weight in brisket knows, is the mecca of meat eating. Well, she looked around at all the Argentinian dudes eating delicious skewered cuts of beef and occasionally pork, and thought what any rational person would think; “… doing vegetarianism in interactions drives social change, contributing to the de-linking of meat from gender hegemony and revealing the resisting and reworking of gender in food spaces.”

Translating the above, the author is posturing that eating meat promotes toxic masculinity. Thus, being a vegetarian is an act of feminism. And if you’re a fella, you can apparently show your support for a non-gender binary world by keeping your mitts off the sausage and focusing on the kale. Or something like that.

To be honest, I wasn’t able to make my way through the entire article. The author is clearly smart, likes vegetables and knows a ton of big words. But she lost me on the deeper meaning of why I like bacon and what it means for the world. I appreciate the fact that people choose not to eat meat for a variety of reasons…some for environmental reasons, some political, some humanitarian and some, bizarrely, because they don’t like the taste. What the hell?

For me, and all the men and women I know who are still carnivores, we wish the vegetarians well.  I don’t believe we’ve ever spent a minute at Buzzy’s trying to analyze what it means to be vegetarian, and whether that choice is rooted in de-linking gender stuff from other issues that get peoples knickers in a twist.

Life seems pretty complicated as it is, no point in trying to overthink my love of a standing rib roast. But, as a compromise, the next time I pull up to the drive thru at the In-N-Out, I will ask for them to leave the toxic masculinity off my burger. My cardiologist did mention that cutting back on hegemony would be good for my overall health.

Till’ next time, stay safe. Feel free to send me a note, donation or perhaps a box of steaks. You can reach me on Twitter at @MBCompanyMan.