Vegetarian men are ‘less manly’ than meat-eating males, a recent study has revealed.
According to research published in the Journal of Consumer Research, men who prefer to nibble a green salad at lunch and tuck into tofu rather than a steak are considered to be less macho than their meat-eating ‘beefcake’ counterparts.
The study investigated the link between the words ‘vegetarian’, ‘meat’ and ‘masculinity’ by examining people’s word associations with certain foods.
Researchers asked participants to rate the masculinity of foods like meat, dairy products and vegetables.
They discovered that the majority of people classed meat (in particular ‘muscle meat’ like steak) as ‘manly’ and used masculine words when associating the food to metaphors.
The study also delved into how people pronounce meat-related words and investigated how ‘manly’ the words sounded. They discovered that ‘meat’ in 23 languages is spoken with a more masculine pronoun than the word ‘vegetable’.
“To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing food.
"Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy,” claimed the report.
Researchers believe that if food experts want to make a vegetarian diet appealing to men, they should re-market veggie foods so they resemble meat (for example, soy burgers that look like grilled burgers), as it might help cautious men make the transition.
"In marketing, understanding the metaphor a consumer might have for a brand could move the art of positioning toward more of a science," add the study authors.
Do these men look 'wimpy' to you?
These results follow a previous study by the University of British Columbia, which discovered that women view vegetarian men as less masculine than ‘real men’ who eat meat.
“Although abstaining from meat is widely established with the symbol of power, status and masculinity, it seems that the vegetarian man is perceived as more principled, but less manly, than his omnivorous counterpart,” explained lead researcher Dr Steven Heine at the time.
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