Last week, Joe Yonan came out — not as a gay man, which he did many years ago, but as a vegetarian.
That wouldn’t be an especially big deal, except for the fact that Yonan is the Food editor of the Washington Post. How will this new-found “food lifestyle” affect his writing? If it’s anything like Yonan’s “gay lifestyle”, the answer should be, “It won’t”.
I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read Yonan’s coming-out article in its entirety. (Don’t worry, it’s short.) He does a great job of explaining why he’s gone vegetarian and, in the process, undercuts the sort of swaggering, incendiary remarks that have been made by food writers like Anthony Bourdain, who once described vegetarians as “the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit”.*
Yonan’s rationale for going veg has more to do with ethics than with health. Even so, he’s not as concerned about compassion and kindness as he is about the well-being of Planet Earth. Yonan understands that meat production has a huge impact on the environment, and he wants to do his small part in making the world a better place.
Which is great. I mean, I feel the same way. Knowing what we do about the damage caused by factory farming of livestock — no only to the animals themselves, but also to the environment — cutting back on meat consumption is a completely reasonable response.
But the fact that Yonan is gay and vegetarian — as am I, for the most part, and as many other gay men and lesbians are — makes me wonder: is there something else at work here? Is there some kind of linkage between homosexuality and a willingness to go vegetarian?
Could it have anything to do with the improved food options that many of us have in our Gay Ghettos? Could it be related to a contrarian urge, a desire to stand against traditional, red-blooded (literally and figuratively) masculinity? Could it be a trend, and we’re at the vanguard of it?
I don’t know the answers, but I’m open to suggestions.
* Note: I love Bourdain’s writing. Kitchen Confidential ranks among my favorite books on the planet. But the guy can be kind of a dick. Then again, that’s his persona, and in the world of television, “persona” is synonymous with “paycheck”.