In the film Rocky, this scene of the underdog fighter, Rocky Balboa, using a dead animal carcass as a punching bag seeks to associate human supremacy (reaffirming the “top of the food chain” myth) with becoming a “champion.” This powerful image became lodged into the viewer’s mind as an iconic symbol connecting masculinity, violence and meat without most people even realizing it.
It is powerful images such as this one that shape our popular cultures widely-held and unfounded beliefs about meat, protein, strength, health and masculinity, often on a subconscious or subliminal level. They become ingrained in our cultural and often surface in the form of knee-jerk reactions about the lack of protein in plant based foods. They are also responsible for forming the antiquated stereotypes of vegans as weak, thin, undernourished, unhealthy and depressed.
We can debunk these misguided perceptions by first identifying their source, pointing out the mythological nature of that source, and then pointing to factual sources on nutrition and health.