Diving Into The Meat of the Matter
For my senior capstone project I decided to create a vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle website called The Warren. I was inspired to make this visually pleasing site as a guide for those currently pursuing or are curious about the vegan lifestyle -- something I wish I had seen more of when I was making my own transition into veganism. Through this project I created a variety of blog posts ranging from cruelty-free product reviews, theoretical pieces about the overall lifestyle, and tips on how to live with more compassion to all living things.
And that’s where I landed on my idea of diving into the connection between meat and masculinity. I noticed that when I’ve shared my personal veganism to males, they are often the ones who respond with the most disdain and have the hardest time understanding why I choose to live this lifestyle. With the help of my capstone research, I wrote the “Meat of the Matter” article for Stephens Life, diving into the myths, facts, and academic studies surrounding meat and its possible connection to feminism.
In the piece published in The Rise Up Issue I had the opportunity of speaking with Matt and Phil Letten, aka the Vegan Bros. Their website introduces them with: “Welcome to VeganBros.com. This is where you’ll learn how to effectively fuck shit up for animals. You may even learn how to drop fat and become the best version of yourself in the process too.” And that tells you much of what these brothers are all about. The Lettens have made waves in the cruelty-free field and just penned their first book, “Vodka is Vegan,” with Penguin Random House. They have crushed stereotypes of what a vegan looks and acts like and have devoted endless amounts of time and effort into the vegan cause.
I later had the opportunity to speak with Adam Stansbury, The Plant Powered PT. Stansbury is an award-winning personal trainer and a former fitness model, fully embodying the fact that vegans can be “leaner, greener, and cleaner.” Like the Letten brothers, he also has been incredibly influential in the plant-based movement and his work has inspired athletes and health-advocates alike to lead a more compassionate life. Below are some of his takes on men, meat, and living cruelty-free.
Stephens Life: Give us a quick background on you and what you do.
Adam Stansbury: My name is Adam Stansbury, I’m the Plant Powered PT and I specialize in getting men and women fit, strong and healthy on a plant-based diet.
SL: How long have you been vegan, and why did you make the switch? Ethical? Environmental? Health? All of the above?
AS: I’ve been vegan for 3.5 years now since November 2014. It was for ethical reasons first, then environmental and then health last, which was strange coming from my background, but the ethical argument was the most black and white to me. Once I realized how complicit I’d been at contributing to the loss of life, trauma and suffering of animals for my own taste satisfaction, I just couldn’t go back.
SL: What are some challenges you’ve faced in being and promoting veganism?
AS: For me it’s all the myths surrounding plant based nutrition that still exist in the public domain, because of the narrative mainstream media chooses to portray. It is getting better though -- the more coverage and mainstream veganism becomes.
With fitness and nutrition, there’s a lot of BS out there anyways, but even more so surrounding the vegan diet, which is why I enjoy dispelling many of these myths in the presentations I give.
SL: What do you think is the best strategy for promoting plant-based eating?
AS: “Progress Not Perfection” - It’s better to do a little bit towards progress rather than nothing at all because you can’t make it perfect. We put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect overnight at everything - especially with veganism. Just because you eat vegan for one meal it doesn’t mean you have to be vegan for the rest of your life.
Life is about exploring, creating and learning about new perspectives. If billions of people chose to eat meat 4 days a week instead of 7 that would make a huge impact and would be a massive step in the right direction.
The reality is that if you do something that makes you feel good and healthy, you start to do more of whatever that is. So if you educate people on how to eat a nutrient dense and diverse plant-based diet and they feel great because of it, then they’ll do it more often.
The worst thing we do as vegans is shout and condemn everyone who is not vegan, 4 years ago I ate steak for breakfast, so who am I to judge?
SL: Why do you think some men have hang-ups about eating meat? What do you think holds some men back?
AS: I believe it goes back to “hunter gathering,’ slaying a beast to bring home to feed the family or tribe, and the long held myth that meat equals muscles and plants equal weeds. There’s nothing masculine about hunting an already dead and defenseless packet of organic chicken breasts on a supermarket aisle. Men need to start reframing what masculinity actually means, for our evolution as a species doesn’t involve violence, but empathy and compassion.
As Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and again, whilst expecting a different result”
Maybe it’s time we tried an alternative to violence.
SL: What are some tangible benefits you’ve seen since living this lifestyle?
AS: I feel “spiritually” lighter knowing that I’m making a daily positive contribution with my existence. I’m 40 in May and have never felt healthier.
SL: Are there any veggie myths would you like to expel?
AS: There’s too many to mention, but the masculinity myth and the protein myth are probably two of the biggest.
The bottom line is that you either get your amino acids (protein) from plants or from animals who ate the plants. Either way your amino acids always come from plants.
There’s a growing number of top level athletes performing at elite levels, who are switching to a plant based diet for the positive effects it has on recovery, so the fact that there is still this myth surrounding protein and performance is ludicrous to me.
As they say ‘the proof is in the pudding’ or ‘plants’.
Photos were shot by Alexandra Martin and feature model Aaron Chisum and produce from Lucky's Market.