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Jun. 19 2010 - 9:48 am | 1,970 views | 0 recommendations | 17 comments

Real Men Eat Tofu!

It’s macho to eat meat.  Nothing more manly than throwing that steak on the bbq.  And, men need that animal protein for muscle mass, right?

With Father’s Day approaching, I’m thinking about the men in our lives, and how they have been at a disadvantage for eating healthy. I know most men love eating meat, and think that they could never “give it up”. But, our culture has taught our men that they need to eat meat to be strong, be manly, provide for their family by literally bringing home the bacon. And, with this we train our palates to desire foods like meat and dairy.

Bob HarperWe can retrain our tastebuds to enjoy other foods… but, do men need to eat meat and dairy to be big and strong? Do they need these foods to be at peak physical performance? No.

In fact, Bob Harper from “The Biggest Loser” recently made the shift to eating vegan from vegetarian, saying “I enjoy living a plant-based diet because it makes me feel clear headed and strong, not to mention my genetically high cholesterol dropped more than 100 points”. Harper encourages contestants of the reality TV show to eat plant-based diets, offering options like quinoa and legumes as protein sources.

Need more proof that you can be buff on veg?

Brendan Brazier

Look no further than Brendan Brazier. A professional Ironman triathlete, Brendan is also famous as an author, speaker, and creator of whole foods nutritional products. His books detail how he fuels his professional athleticism with a plant-based diet. In fact, the dietary program Brendan outlines is one that excludes more refined foods like wheat products, and instead focuses on nutrient dense and raw whole foods – leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, pseudograins, legumes and healthy fats – which deliver an abundance of enzymes, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

A vegan diet that is high in these whole, raw foods and low in refined, processed foods also helps the body maintain an alkaline state, which promotes vibrant health and helps prevent disease. Meat and dairy consumption are linked to prostate cancer as well as heart disease – and also impotence. Nothing manly about that.

Let’s do the men in our lives a favor this Father’s Day – and every day after. Cast off those tired caveman associations that have our beloved men charring the cut of the day. Modern day men need to take care of themselves, and eating more plant-based foods is one of the best ways to start.

As for what to feed your dad or hubby, it doesn’t have to be tofu (it’s not my husband’s first choice). There are plenty of other delicious foods to eat that will appeal to the tofu-averse (or generally vegan-uninitiated). Here are a few ideas:

Moroccan Phyllo Rolls with Balsamic Maple Sauce

Moroccan Phyllo Rolls with Balsamic Maple Sauce; Sundried Tomato Pasta with Toasted Almonds and Pine Nuts; Thai Coconut Corn Stew; Mushroom Pecan Burgers; Walnut Pecan Balls; Chickpea Ratatouille; Kalamata Walnut Tapenade; Mexican Bean Soup with Chipotle Avocado Cream; Warmly Spiced Quinoa Chickpea Casserole with Figs.


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  1. collapse expand

    I don’t eat meat because it’s “macho”, I eat it because it is delicious. And I don’t eat tofu because it tastes terrible.

    • collapse expand

      Mark, meat tastes delicious to people b/c of how it is prepared – marinated, seasoned, and grilled or cooked with aromatics. I doubt people would think meat tastes delicious if left unseasoned and steamed or boiled. The same thing applies to tofu. Most people haven’t had tofu prepared in unique and flavorful ways. Tofu and tempeh are versatile foods, and can taste terrific when seasoned and prepared creatively. But, even if tofu isn’t your favorite thing to eat, there are many other plant-based foods that are delicious – and won’t compromise your health.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        I believe that eating animals, in modern society when we have a lot of choices and when agricultural practices can be abominable..is wrong.

        However, that doesn’t mean that meat doesn’t taste great. An equally prepared and seasoned veggie burger is no match for a real burger (although I haven’t eaten beef in decades, I remember.) Unseasoned meat, plain off of the grill is also delicious. I think it’s about texture and fat content. Nothing else quite tastes like the muscle tissue of another animal…

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    Real men might want to take it easy on the tofu; it can be estrogenic. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian, but I definitely think both are wonderful, viable options. However, were I to try either, I would still shun the soy products…

    http://www.menshealth.com/men/nutrition/food-for-fitness/soys-negative-effects/article/0ad3803313651210VgnVCM10000013281eac

    Other than that, great article!

  3. collapse expand

    I wonder what effect consuming genetically modified soy is having on us. Feed it to mice and hamsters and you get fertility problems that you don’t get when you feed them non-genetically engineered:

    http://fanaticcook.blogspot.com/2010/04/more-problems-in-animals-fed.html

    You also get discoloration of testes.

    Most of the soy in this country is genetically engineered. Only the organic soy is supposed to be GMO-free.

  4. collapse expand

    bixx, I was expecting to get this article reference, I probably should have noted it myself. GMO soy is the issue here, not soy. Most of the soy in North America that is genetically modified is that which is in many commercial products that people are eating everyday – oils, concentrated proteins and isolates, etc found in many processed foods (salad dressings, cereals, granola bars, frozen foods, etc). Everyone needs to be aware of that, not just vegans or vegetarians. I have always advocated organic tofu and other soy products, and the less processed the better. It is easy to find and use organic tofu and tempeh, but not as easy to navigate labels for all the hidden forms of gmo soy. We need to be concerned about GM crops in general (corn, tomatoes, soy, potatoes)… all of that is terribly messed up.

    Jay, thanks for the note, and certainly it is possible to be vegan without eating soy. Though I think soy has truly gotten a bad rap because of the GMO matter, and also because it can be overprocessed (and also too heavily relied upon in some cases). A plant-based diet is not synonymous with a soy-based diet. Still, eating some amounts of less processed forms of soy has been shown to be safe, if not healthy. Here’s a reference, if of interest to you…
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/neal-barnard-md/settling-the-soy-controve_b_453966.html

    Not trying to convince either of you to eat soy, just wanting to address the issues of overconsumption and gmo’s in general.
    (Truly, I wanted to call the article “Real Men Eat Quinoa”… but it just doesn’t have quite the same ring)!

    • collapse expand

      Hi Dreena,

      Not contesting you, I rather like soynuts. I’m just expressing disappointment that just about all the soy we plant and eat in the US is GMO. And, unlike Europe, it’s not even labeled.

      By the way, I liked the Barnard article. I liked the MensHealth article too, Jay. But the maketempeh.org link brought up an alert from my SpySweeper.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Had I continued to eat meat – I am sure I would be a goner already(My body makes a whole lot of cholesterol by itself). I was really averse to anything that looked like a dead animal and so concentrated on sausages – the worst part of the meat industry.
    Luckily for me, 30 years ago my wife introduced me to tempeh ( which you can make for yourself,with non GMO soy beans, see http://www.maketempeh.org) and now I am a healthy 77 and getting ready to go play tennis.

  6. collapse expand

    No mention of chicken or fish? Seems like this is less about health and more about pushing an agenda.

    • collapse expand

      Not sure about the agenda bit – but as for fish – we have either polluted them to inedibility or depleted the stocks. If you knew how chickens are raised and what they are fed, you would never touch another morsel. A few organic happy go lucky free range chickens won’t make a dent in the food supply. So what are you expecting to eat in the future?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      some1, chicken and fish are meat. They aren’t part of any other food group but meat. You might want to check out this health-related link about animals foods (including chicken and fish): http://www.pcrm.org/health/prevmed/organic_meats.html

      And, what would my agenda be? I am not sponsored by any company. I am merely interested in sharing information about eating a healthful plant-based diet. If my agenda is to help others find a path to healthier eating and know the risks of eating meat and dairy in terms our diseases of affluence (heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even certain cancers), then I guess I’m guilty as charged.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  7. collapse expand

    Sorry Dreena – in my previous post I gave my url as maketempeh…..but it turns out that the name registrar did not notify me and the date ran out so someone from Indonesia picked up our name. We will have to get a new one – maybe makethebestte…
    Quite the nasties.

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    About Me

    I am the author of bestselling vegan cookbooks including "eat, drink & be vegan". I am a stay-at-home mom of 3 young children, and find time to cook, bake, create recipes, and blog somewhere in the day between feeding the kiddos, diapers, nursing babe, laundry, cleaning dishes, cleaning house, cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning... school drop-offs and pick-ups, and activities. Nap anyone?

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