Germany’s Strongest Man, Tofu is Gay & Vegetables Terrorize Men

The Evolution of Man: Patrik Baboumian

“The Evolution of Man” series is based around the article I wrote for VegNews Magazine’s “The Man Issue”. In this episode I interview strongman, Patrick Baboumian, who won Germany’s Strongest Man 2011 Competition. Baboumian currently holds the German crown in strength sports and is vegan.

But It doesn’t matter that Germany’s Strongest Man is a vegan. When it comes to identifying with meat-eating, there seems to be an association with masculinity that reaches across many cultures.  And likewise, when it comes to eating vegetables (or specifically avoiding meat) it’s considered feminine or gay. According to the gay European news website “Pink News” a German ad agency recently was “outed” and forced to apologize for a 2009 ad that surfaced, labeling tofu as “gay meat”. Not only is this homophobic and sexist (insinuating that both femininity and homosexuality are to be rejected as inferior) but it’s also using those popular isms in an attempt to insult those who eat tofu.

Deutscher Strongman Meister 2011 - Patrik Baboumian - Deutsche Strongman Meisterschaft - FlashreportAn den Kugeln konnte er nach 4 Punkten Rückstand im Kopf-an-Kopf an Daniel Wildt vorbeiziehen - Deutsche Strongman Meisterschaft - Flashreport

Scholz & Friends designed the ad, which shows a steak branded with the words ‘Tofu ist schwules fleisch’ for a restaurant chain, but it was never used in public, Der Spiegel reported.

A spokesman for Scholz & Friends told Der Spiegel that the firm apologised for the steak advert, which has been hosted on the Art Directors Club website after the campaign won a prize in the competition it was designed for.


This example is a much more obvious form of the themes I’ve addressed again and again on The Discerning Brute. Typically the homophobic sentiment surrounding vegetarianism and veganism is underhanded. This ad, however, went with bold clarity. They apologized to the gays they offended (but not to women or those who eat tofu).

There was also a recent study conducted in the Journal of Consumer Research, and the conclusion was, not surprisingly, that consumers are influenced by a strong association of meat with masculinity.

“To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food,” the authors write. “Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy.”


Written by joshuakatcher

Joshua Katcher is an adjunct professor of fashion at Parsons The New School. His research focuses on sustainability and ethics in fashion production. He started The Discerning Brute in 2008 as a resource for men who want to make intelligent decisions concerning their lifestyles. With a focus on “fashion, food & etiquette for the ethically handsome man”, The Discerning Brute produces expert, essential content and boldly takes a stand. Brave GentleMan, the integrated, eCommerce brother-site of The Discerning Brute was launched in 2011 and features “principled attire” and “smart supplies” handpicked for informed indulgence.
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  • Charlie

    great stuff, I’ve long been bothered by the association of meat with masculinity, mostly because of the dodgy historical cliche of of male=beast slayer, woman=well, who cares,  when all the evidence shows early people subsisted on roots, berries and grasses, bison and so forth not wandering into easy range every day. It’s ridiculous anyway, this connection of red-blooded virility with meat and for everyone’s sakes we need to challenge and unpack the cliche more.