Father’s Day is just around the corner and all I see are advertisements for meat sandwiches “he will love!” Or grilling commercials with a happy dad roasting some kind of animal around a smiling, happy family. Very American right? It actually is. Another very American thing is the American Heart Association which says more than one in 3 men have some form of cardiovascular disease. Nearly 300 white men die from this diet-based disease every year, and nearly 400 black men kick the bucket every year. Hey Dad, want some more steak?
The Mayo Clinic lists 5 ways to maintain a healthy heart, and number three is virtually a vegan mandate: Cut out red meat, eat up the fruits and veggies, eat good fats, etc., etc. Yet we seem to still think that stuffing the old man with meat is “manly!”
This dino-definition of manhood is now just laughable. There is no need to resort to all out barbarianism just to feel like you are packing a “set,” even if we do go to the basic mandates (pun) of manhood and pick them apart.
1. Provide for your family:
Old way: Me club something over head, drag home, skin it, gut and eat it. (Grunt.)
New way: Being a provider means you have to be healthy enough to provide–and since we are living in the future-age, i.e. 2012, the definition of family is consistently evolving. The man has to think about his place in all that, from a small pod, to local community, to the global community. Every man’s actions have a butterfly effect. The new man must not only be a provider, but be one of the many men providing for the greater family. And killing to do that just doesn’t make sense. The cost of the meat industry on the environment is too great.
2. Be an inspiration:
Old way: My dad eats his steak rare and drinks his scotch neat.
New way: Most men look up to their father. He was the biggest, strongest man you knew, and what he did you wanted to do. And most of us, like me, turned out to be just like their father (as my mother would say). As a man, we have the ability as individuals to set the example at home as the man. Not to exclude the mothers, who are equally as important in the family unit, but today we are gearing up for Father’s Day, so we’re talkin’ men. The man has a gift in that he is already admired, respected and looked to as a leader of his small clan. If for nothing else than self-preservation, a better diet sets the standard at home where all habits good and bad are formed. So, to the fathers and baby daddies out there, understand that change can start with you. When daddy eats healthy, usually the family follows–like it or not.
3. Protect your family:
Old way: Pappy had a shotgun
New way: There is a fine line between protection and aggression, and hopefully every man knows where that line is. I’m actually not a believer of non-violence (blame it on my revolutionary upbringing), but I understand where the line is. My aggression is curbed because I have no blood thirst, and I accredit that to my vegan upbringing. So the act of protection can expand from physical encounters to protection of one’s family from corporations, pollution, politicians, Monsantos, etc. I say it’s time to teach new rules of engagement and new ways to preserve what is yours and ours: the earth. Protect your family, your community and all its inhabitants. Protect your planet with a, dare I say it, sensitive way of living with the planet.
The fact is, being a man is changing. The world is in need of a new kind of man. A man who can play different roles. A man who is perhaps not the top earner in the home, but cooks up a mean quinoa pilaf and tends to the garden in back of the house. The planet needs a new kind of man to behave like human beings–and understand there is more to life than money. (Money is great but not at the expense of our natural resources.)
The planet needs a new kind if man to remove the chip from our collective shoulder and make it known that there are few things we no longer accept as truth. The new man not only questions societal norms but takes action against them because he sees the motive behind the madness and says no thank you. Is the new man a vegan urban gardener living in a solar powered geodesic dome? Some are, sure, but it’s not required. It’s really about keeping up with the changing times and honoring the idea that this new man is probably best done without a steak wrapped in bacon. After all, we have a lot of work to do.
Happy Father’s Day