Episode 29

Published on:

7th Jun 2023

Dr Kadri Aavik - Masculinity, Meat-Eating, and Vegan Men

Between 2016 and 2020, the number of vegans in Europe has doubled from 1.3 million to 2.6 million. More and more people are questioning the consumption of meat and dairy for ethical, environmental and health reasons. The majority of these people are women, but there are a significant number of men who are vegans, too – and over 30% of Europeans say they are consciously eating less meat. In this episode, we explore men’s experiences and motivations for becoming vegan, and how they deal with masculine norms and expectations about food. For instance, veganism and vegetarianism are sometimes portrayed as ‘unmanly’ and effeminate, whilst meat-eating is often associated with strength, virility, and masculinity. The meat and dairy industries are also major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions – might the climate crisis and increasing recognition of the harms caused by these industries be leading to changes in the attitudes and behaviours of some men?

We speak to Dr Kadri Aavik, who is an Associate Professor of Gender Studies at Tallinn University, Estonia. Kadri has written a book about her research in Estonia and Finland on men and veganism, which has been published this year by Palgrave Macmillan: ‘Contesting Anthropocentric Masculinities through Veganism: Lived Experiences of Vegan Men’. Research for the book was conducted as part of the project ‘Climate Sustainability in the Kitchen: Everyday Food Cultures in Transition’ (University of Helsinki, 2018-2022), funded by the Kone Foundation: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/projects/climate-sustainability-kitchen   

We cover the following topics in this episode:

  • Why food and eating are gendered (02:38-05:02)
  • How to define veganism (05:02-06:49)
  • Kadri’s research with vegan men in Estonia and Finland (06:49-09:41)
  • Men’s motivations for becoming vegan (09:41-11:20)
  • Kadri’s own relationship with veganism (11:20-13:33)
  • The connections between meat-eating and masculinity (13:33-15:02)
  • Gendered differences in diets (15:02-17:14)
  • Men’s engagement in household cooking (17:14-21:32)
  • Navigating family relationships as a vegan (21:32-23:32)
  • The influence of patriarchy on human relations with other animals (23:32-27:42)
  • What this has to do with climate change and ‘Anthropocentric masculinities’ (27:42-32:10)
  • Barriers to veganism for men (32:10-37:33)
  • The different contexts of veganism in Estonia and Finland (37:33-41:39)
  • The extent to which veganism is a ‘privileged’ phenomenon (41:39-44:35)
  • Achieving institutional as well as individual change (44:35-48:48)
  • Veganism as a form of activism, not just a ‘lifestyle choice’ (48:48-50:45)
  • Impacts of veganism on men’s relationships (50:45-54:12)


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About the Podcast

Now and Men
Current conversations about men's lives
What's it like to be a man in the 21st century? How are feminist issues relevant to men and boys? How can we engage in productive conversations about gender equality? These questions are being discussed more than ever.

Our monthly podcast delves into these issues with experts such as practitioners, activists and academics. In each episode, you’ll hear in-depth conversations about a wide-range of topics connected to masculinity and the lives of men and boys, such as preventing gender-based violence, promoting active fatherhood, and supporting men's health.

The podcast is hosted by two social science researchers, based on the opposite sides of the world: Sandy Ruxton from Durham University's Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (UK) and Dr Stephen Burrell from the University of Melbourne (Australia). If you would like to give us your feedback, suggest a guest, or have a question you'd like us to discuss, get in touch at nowandmen@gmail.com. And if you like what we do, please share us with your friends, and leave a review on Apple podcasts!

About your hosts

Stephen Burrell

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I am a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where I moved to at the beginning of 2024. My research is about men, masculinities and violence. I am particularly interested in the prevention of men's violence against women, building gender equality, addressing environmental harm, and promoting an ethic of care among men and boys. In my spare time I'm a big fan of drinking tea, being in nature, eating vegan ice cream, and listening to heavy metal music. I'm also a trustee for White Ribbon UK.

Sandy Ruxton

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Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Durham University (UK). Independent researcher, expert on men and masculinities. Previous policy work on human rights, children and families, poverty and social exclusion, and asylum and migration. Programme experience with boys and young men in schools, community, and prisons. Steering Committee member, MenEngage Europe. Volunteer for OX4 Food Crew. Chess-player, bike-rider, tree-hugger. Great grandfather edited Boy's Own Paper, but was sacked.