Podcaster and author Lewis Howes recently wrote an amazing book called The Mask of Masculinity - a profound book that reveals the emotional states of men and the various shields and cloaks we wear to ‘protect’ ourselves from vulnerability. I love Lewis’ work, and I highly recommend that everyone read this book.
It’s real and authentic and it peeled back the layers...but I realized something that Lewis had overlooked.
The connection between what he describes as the “Aggressive Mask”, the “Alpha Mask”, and the “Know It All Mask”. One very important behavior that can be considered both a cause and a manifestation of all of these other masks...
It is a mask I first recognized more than 3 years ago when I read The World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle. I realized then that I had been wearing the Meat Eating Mask as a form of my own masculinity.
Although he doesn’t name it, and may not be aware of it, Lewis has certainly described the “Meat Eating Mask” within the sub-types of the masks he does explain in his book.
The following are clips directly from the The Mask Of Masculinity:
There are underpinnings within the other masks he talks about as well, but for the sake of simplicity I want to stick to the most profound, obvious ones for now.
This writing is my attempt to break down the missing mask - what I call the “Meat Eating Mask” - with the goal to help other people, both men and women, see that often this mask is the epicenter of so much violence and pain in society, and I will explain exactly WHY.
I don’t think it was coincidence that in the 6 years I worked as a butcher and visited slaughterhouses that 99% of all the workers were male.
Many of the men I worked with had suffered through drug and alcohol abuse, and in some cases there was domestic violence within their homes. It was so common, that this kind of hyper-masculinity and aggression was almost normal.
Think of it like this - during periods of ‘early man’, the males were hunters because of their physical strength & size advantage over women - and women were the gatherers, the ones who nurtured the children and the gardens.
Thousands of years have passed since those times, technology has come so far - yet our underlying paradigms and cultural beliefs still bind so many of us to that hunter role. Where we needed to be strong, hyper-aggressive, fearless, ruthless, uncompassionate, brutal and violent to just survive.
You can see this aggressive meat eating mask within sports, politics, sexuality, and every other ego extension of man that they portray to the world - as a way to show force & strength.
Because their very existence is so entangled in the mask;
without it, who are they?
Men, whether they admit it or not, see inherent weakness in ‘gathering’ and nurturing. That this is the “woman’s role” - and a big part of why a lot of psuedo-alpha’s see Veganism as a ‘girly’ thing for women and weak men.
When in actuality it is those people whose mask is on so tight, it suffocates their mind into a place where change creates so much vulnerability within their aggressive armor, to remove it is to remove their identity. That takes courage and strength.
Lewis often talks about the innate strength in embracing vulnerability and the feminine within us to help balance those opposing forces. That yin and yang. All of the most prolific leaders in life recognize this.
In many ways Veganism and removing the meat eating mask, requires the most strength because it requires someone to see their inner strength, and to embrace change around what it even means to be strong, or to be an "alpha male" or female. That being in touch with your emotions, being a good human being to your fellow peers extends beyond humans. That the way we treat the voiceless, the way we use weaker beings, ultimately defines the meat eating mask that so many still wear.
“A Man Must Dominate”. How reflective is that of how we treat animals?
That we haven’t just climbed to the top of the food chain; we have removed ourselves from it entirely with the introduction of factory farming - which is also the largest genocide of any being on this earth and continues to this day. It is largely overlooked because those beings do not have the ability to voice their oppression and pain, like Rosa Parks did. Like Jesus Christ did. Like Martin Luther King did. Like any oppressed person in history has done.
The Alpha mask has detached us so far from compassion and equality that we don’t even see animals as beings. We see them as property we own.
You see humanity repeat this mask over and over in history, and it morphs into different forms. At one point in history slavery was legal and woman could not vote.
Men had convinced the culture that white males (the "Alphas") were superior and
they call the shots and make the decisions about what is right and wrong. They also
made sure to teach these ideologies in
schools to indoctrinate the next generation into those same belief systems.
Those next generations then repeat the same immoral acts thinking that it is normal or
necessary. Because it is their programming and they were taught to follow, not ask questions. Just like eating animals. The meat eating mask is passed down through generations.
That so many of us think that because we have a higher level of intelligence, that some how grants us the ability to use lesser beings however we choose, is the epicenter of the Meat Eating mask. But in reality, the Alpha Mask uses force & domination to conceal a lack of true intelligence.
I remember before I was Vegan I would be horrified at how Asian cultures ate dogs. Or the rage I felt when I saw someone abuse a dog or cat. All the while I was eating other animals. I was unknowingly perpetuating the same kind of violence and suffering that I was so strongly opposed too.
There is a reason why so many pre-vegan people get so defensive and angry at vegans exposing their cognitive dissonance. I get it. I was one of them.
I felt the mask dissolving, and that is uncomfortable at first, yet so empowering in the end. I realized that SO much of what I had been taught and believed was passed on programming from society and family.
That so many of the choices I thought I was making weren’t choices. They were operating systems that had been implanted into my mind.
The Alpha mask is the Meat Eating mask.
It says that we shouldn’t see ourselves as equals with food animals. That we breed them into existence to eat them and it’s just the way it is. That we’ve been doing this since the beginning of time. That eating a steak makes you a man.
The very fact that we see eating animals, and the violence that comes with it, as normal conditions us to violence. Yet we wonder why our world is so full of aggression, violence, war, and suffering. It is simply because we reap what we sow. We have designed this behavior.
There is a reason why cultures who do not eat animals tend to also be the most peaceful cultures. Because they recognize that all life is important and beautiful.
The Alpha mask is everything those beliefs of peace and compassion are not and this is the Meat Eating Mask in its full force. A beautiful book called The World Peace Diet by Dr Will Tuttle explains all this in depth. Read it.
“He knows all the answers. He certainly doesn’t need your —or anyone’s—help. He knows it all.”
Ever noticed how when someone is challenged about their habit of eating animals they become a molecular biologist, a nutritionist, anthropologist & philosopher around why they do it or why it is right?
This is the Know It All Mask at play.
It is an integral part of the Meat Eating Mask that blocks many people from even seeing their own flaws. It anchors them to old, out-dated habits and beliefs that may have served us at some point in our human history, but now blind and bind us to old draconian systems that are unsustainable and brutal.
It is widely known that eating animals is one of the most destructive environmental forces on this planet. The documentary Cowspiracy explains it in depth. Watch it.
Yet we still argue that it is fine.
That the American Dietetic Association says “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes."
Yet, so many of us think eating animals is some how better. That people in places of authority preach this message - not realizing they are the byproduct of animal-industry-funded information and the Meat Eating mask they wear.
That we can argue about how animals are stupid or don’t feel like humans do. That we have all the answers and have it all figured out - is inherently our biggest weakness too.
“As for me, all I know is that I know nothing” - Socrates.
Arguably one of the most well known philosophers in human history realized this, but it escapes so many of us. I see this culture is thick within the online community, everyone has an opinion and everyone has an answer for everything.
It takes shedding the Know It All
mask to finally see the Meat Eating
mask mechanics at play.
That realizing anything we know and
believe is a program that we have
been taught. It also means we can
unlearn things that we realize are so
Ask yourself, "Is this something I have chosen, or something that was taught to me?"
"What if everything I think is right, is a mask?"
Just like Neo waking up from the Matrix - The shedding of the Meat Eating mask is EXACTLY like this.
I don’t write all of this preaching my purity, or saying I have it all figured out. I just realize that over my life, coming from so much mental illness and addiction and destructive habits, the amount of skins and masks I have had to shed is never ending.
Even to this day I search within my mind and
heart for ways to see the masks I still wear that I am blinded too. I write this piece on the Meat Eating Mask hoping it will reach Lewis. A person I value and respect. Whose work I love.
That the Meat Eating Mask in many ways is the real epicenter of so much aggression, domination, alpha-behavior and senseless suffering on this earth. That it takes strength, awareness, and courage to see that within ourselves and do something about it.
That at one point I saw these animals I ate as just part of life. I never questioned the repercussions of my own beliefs or habits.
But as I shed the masks Lewis talks about in his book, the Meat Eating Mask came to the surface and I realized it was another paradigm. Another mask I had to shed in order to become my highest, most congruent self.
I hope any pre-vegan people reading this realize I come from a place of love. That my only hope is that this perspective plants a seed that helps you question your actions today.
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