‘Food’s awful and eating sucks.” Thus spake Andrew Tate, on X (formerly Twitter). “I hate eating. I hate feeling full,” he elaborated, before broadening, in his trademark fashion, the personal to the universal: “Imagine how stupid you have to be to find food entertaining. Literally embarrassing.”
It is not at all unusual, in the toxic manosphere, to see hunger as a human frailty to which you, as the ultimate man, are immune. Jordan Peterson has a not dissimilar relationship with food, having once gone on a months-long diet of nothing but beef, salt and water. He ended up in a coma in 2019, yet insists that wasn’t due to the steak but rather, his dependence on clonazepam, a type of tranquilliser. You have to wonder whether, whatever the immediate causes of his nine solid days unconscious, the odd vegetable might have helped. He once also claimed to have gone 25 days without sleeping, thanks to a deviation from the meat-only diet. I can’t remember what his slip-up was – I want to say a Jelly Baby?
In the world of tech bros – which intersects with that of proselytising toxic masculinity, but not always in obvious ways – they often present fasting as a frontier technology. “Bio-hacking” is the neologism, but the behaviour is as old as time. Once it would have been a young monk, exhibiting his singular proximity to God via purifying self-denial. Now it is a young fundamentalist libertarian, proving his masculine self-reliance by severing himself from the most basic need.
If Peterson wants to put himself in a coma, or Tate wants to get scurvy, I don’t have any particular beef with it. Their bodies, their choice. I didn’t even mind the Huel years, when a thin but nutritionally complete grey sludge was heralded as the one-stop answer to the questions only little people ask, such as “what’s for lunch?” – though it was a little chilling when people started wondering aloud whether the cement-like supplement could replace food stamps.
All I observe is that, were this performative disgust for food and appetite to come from the wellness space – or, to put that another way, were it to come from a woman – everyone would say she had an eating disorder.