The rise of the "vegansexual"

When veganism and sex collide.

Published July 31, 2007 4:08PM (EDT)

If you're a vegan who thinks that refusing to wear sneakers made from leather makes you hardcore, think again. There are vegans who refuse to have sex with meat eaters because, as South Africa's Independent Online puts it, "they see them as a 'graveyard for animals.'" These people have even been given a name: "vegansexuals."

One such woman, described by the paper as still finding meat eaters attractive even though she will not sleep with them, put it this way: "I would not want to be intimate with someone whose body is literally made up from the bodies of others who have died for their sustenance."

I have to say that part of me loves the idea of imagining meat eaters (of which I am one) as carnivorous versions of those Giuseppe Arcimboldo portraits of people's heads made out of vegetables. Just think: sausages for fingers, ham hocks for legs ... It's totally disgusting -- until you realize that since human beings are made of tendons and muscles and organs, we're actually meat products, too. And as for the "literally made up from bodies" part, unless my understanding of nutrition is totally wrong, the strips of bacon that I eat at brunch don't actually adhere themselves directly to my thighs.

When I come across things like this, I have two reactions. First, I laugh -- I mean, isn't it hard enough to find someone you're attracted to without worrying about whether his lunchtime sandwich has turned him into a turkey? And second, when is the vegan movement going to hire an image consultant? There are plenty of reasons to question the foods that Americans eat, and much of our meat is definitely inhumanely and unsustainably raised. But to make a big deal about having sex with a hamburger eater -- not because of the difference in values but because his sausage might contain some, well, sausage -- is just to give fodder to people who already think of veganism as a joke.

Then again, if you want to combat vegan stereotypes, you also probably shouldn't let people publish portraits of you in the newspaper that label you as vegansexuals and make it look like you're topless. Oops. Too late.

By Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

MORE FROM Catherine Price

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Broadsheet Love And Sex