Forget vegan, he’s a “hegan”

The Boston Globe coins a ridiculous new term for manly men who don't mind eating their veggies

Topics: Nutrition, Food,

Forget vegan, he's a "hegan"

Not to be outdone by the New York Times Style section’s seemingly inexhaustible capacity for coining ridiculous words (see blipster, recessionista), the Boston Globe has a trend piece today that contains one of the most entertaining food-related neologisms in recent memory. In the article, the Globe’s Kathleen Pierce writes about the supposed hot new trend of the male vegan — men who refuse to eat meat and animal products and yet somehow manage to hold on to their masculinity. And because male vegan is far too unwieldy, she’s invented a new word: hegan.

What is a hegan, you might ask? They are, Pierce claims, “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.” Hegans aren’t interested in the principles of veganism, or saving their environment, or wearing extravagantly colored vegan tunics — they’re just interested in living longer. (Men quoted in the piece tout veganism’s supposed ability to prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease.)

And no, these are not the effete, flouncing vegans of yore — they are cops, and firefighters, and, most manly of all, men who skate on ponds. Case in point: Joe McCain, a mid-40s Somerville police detective whose weight problems — he once loved pizza, steak and fried foods — led him to “cut meat, dairy, eggs, chicken and fish from his diet and [add] power vinyasa yoga, which helped him shed 60 pounds in eight months.” Or what Pierce calls “the ultimate hegan,” Rip Esselstyn, a veteran Texas firefighter who convinced his department to shun animal protein — and turned his idea into a diet book called “The Engine 2 Diet.”



Unfortunately, Pierce admits, there are “no hard numbers on how many hegans exist.” This is unfortunate, because when promoting arbitrary trends, it’s often useful to have hard figures. (The entire trend piece, as it turns out, is based on anecdotal interviews with male vegans or vegan establishment owners.) Of course, that doesn’t mean that male vegans aren’t really on the increase — the growth of yoga culture and Michael Pollan-esque food politics have doubtless made it more and more acceptable for men to make educated eating choices, and statistics have shown that even if men aren’t going vegan, they’re spending more time in the kitchen.

And of course, it makes sense for the Globe to be inventing ridiculous new terms. People talk about it, blog about it, and if the newspaper is lucky, even begin using it in everyday speech. And, all things said, the succinct catchiness of the word is almost enough to forgive the weaknesses of the  article. I can already hear vegan hipsters in Williamsburg and Silver Lake ironically referring to themselves as “hegans” — which, put in the manliest way possible, is actually kind of fabulous. 

Thomas Rogers

Thomas Rogers is Salon's former Arts Editor. He has written for the Globe & Mail, the Village Voice and other publications. He can be reached at @thomasmaxrogers.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>