Rod Dreher

richard simmons.jpgWell, if you’re an Orthodox Christian man, you’d better be a hegan (male vegan) now, this last week of Lent. The Boston Globe examines heganism (versus sheganism?) as a masculinist cultural phenomenon. Excerpt:

Three years later, sipping a yerba mate latte at the Sherman Cafe in Union Square, the buff and bright-eyed McCain [who was formerly obese and out of shape — RD] is the new face of veganism: men in their 40s and 50s embracing a restrictive lifestyle to look better, rectify a gluttonous past, or cheat death. They are hegans. They are healthy. And they are here to stay. While no one was looking, guys were stepping up to the wheatgrass bar. Famous hegans include “Spider-Man” Tobey Maguire and singer Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez was vegan for a few years but now eats seafood and chicken on occasion.
Perhaps the ultimate hegan is Rip Esselstyn, a veteran firefighter and triathlete in Austin, Texas. He helped the men in his department lower their cholesterol in 28 days by shunning animal protein and then turned his efforts into the best-selling “The Engine 2 Diet” (Wellness Central). Though not billed as a vegan diet per se, Esselstyn’s “plant-strong” lifestyle helps lower cholesterol by going meat-, egg-, and dairy-free, he says. “Sure there is a stigma attached to it, that it’s for yuppie, tree-hugging, emaciated weaklings,” he says. “That is far from the truth. I like to say that real men eat plants.”

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