Does meat reinforce masculinity?

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Study will explore a range of issues including the psychology of meat consumption
Study will explore a range of issues including the psychology of meat consumption

Related tags: Meat consumption, Meat

Scientists from the University of Hawaii are to explore how the consumption of meat impacts masculinity, and question if men can stomach the punch of a vegetarian alternative.

A team of consumer scientists, led by the vegetarian Dr Attila Pohlmann, are to study the link between meat consumption and masculinity, hoping to answer a simple question: why do men feel compelled to eat meat?

Since the birth of the earliest civilisations the consumption of meat has been perceived as an indication of masculinity. And in today’s 24-hour, always-on advertising world, the team of Hawaii scientists will also explore if marketing and advertising campaigns exploit male anxieties in a bid to boost meat consumption.

Steak over veg

Even in the wake of the World Health Organization’s report​ that linked the consumption of red meat to cancer, researchers from the University of Hawaii suggest men would rather eat meat than run the risk of being associated with the “feminine attributes​” of a vegetarian diet.

The strongly pronounced gender-food link presents a dilemma for traditionally masculine persons when it comes to deciding what to eat,​” said research lead Pohlmann.

Consistently, they choose the steak over the vegetarian alternative. Helping us to complete the picture of the psychological and physiological factors involved in this process will hopefully influence marketing messages about masculinity and meat consumption in socially beneficial ways​.”

Fundraising target exceeded

The study by US scientists will explore a range of issues, including: the psychology of why masculine individuals value meat-based dishes and how this positively influences marketing campaigns; and the biological and psychological process that drives a propensity for meat consumption, as well as how meat and vegetarian food options impact the hormones of consumers.

Researchers said results in the project would impact the fields of psychology, food marketing and nutrition.

Pohlmann’s study can be followed on the science platform Experiment, essentially a crowdsourcing site that encourages researchers to publish updates on the progress of their study in a similar style to social media sites.

The study has already exceeded the initial fundraising target of $3,000, with 17 days still to go.

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3 comments

Steak is Fear

Posted by Sandra Boss,

We may have eaten meat for millennia but along with that went early demise. Now we know better. We smoked cigarettes for a long time, and now we know better. There is nothing wrong with evolution and doing something for a long time does not justify continuing to do so especially if it is causing disease for the human and the planet. Yes it would be much better for humans and the planet if everyone was vegan. Animal agriculture is the largest polluter on the planet according to our own USDA information, hence it cannot be denied. So what intelligent human can deny that it is bad for us and bad for the planet; so of course the other more intelligent folks would like to convince the less enlightened to true their path. Duh.

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Excellent news

Posted by Jennifer,

Take a look at the Campaign for Australian Lamb for Australia day, courtesy of the meat industry. Male targeted, trying to reinforce the stereotypes for a new generation.

Brad Pitt, Leonardo Di Caprio, UK Ninja Warrior champ Tim Shieff, Richard Branson, Bono, Bill Gates ... these real men don't need to eat meat.

I applaud these scientists, the world can't sustain more and more meat eaters. If we need academic papers to officialise male meat eater phsyche (from meat industry, friends, family conditioning) then so be it. Already we know what works in marketing to appeal to real men to learn the negative facts about meat.

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I Like Meat!

Posted by Pamela Matlack-Klein,

I find Dr. Pohlmann's assertions that men prefer meat over other proteins quite offensive and sexist. I am female and love meat, I also love fish, cheese, vegetables, fruit, and grains, a nicely rounded-out omnivorous diet. It puzzles me that vegetarians and vegans seem determined to get the entire world to embrace their food preferences. Why can't they just eat as they please and allow others to do the same?

Are vegetarian and vegan men now feeling less manly because of their diet? Will Dr. Pohlmann's research make them feel better about their food choices or perhaps threaten them even more?

This smacks of yet another scare campaign, aimed directly at insecure men. Eating meat causes cancer! Wow, that is frightening, frightening enough to cancel out the masculinity threat of eating tofu instead.

If one chooses to consume non-animal proteins that is certainly their choice, as is the decision to eat meat. But to be frightened into becoming a vegetarian or vegan by fears of cancer is not playing fair. Humans have been consuming the flesh of animals for millennia, it is likely the dietary change that led to us coming down from the trees. Until I see the kind of definitive research that links smoking to cancer linking the consumption of meat to cancer, I will continue to enjoy my rare grass-fed steak without fear. And so will my husband.

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