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.

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Are Vegetarian Men Less 'Macho' Than Meat Eaters?


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?

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  • Josh Hartnett

  • Forest Whittaker

  • Joaquin Phoenix

  • Jared Leto

  • Tobey Maguire

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.

Are you a reluctant vegetable eater? Be tempted by these colour-boosting veggies that'll excite your tastebuds...

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  • Red Carrots

    They say that carrots help improve your vision - but the different coloured variants offer much more nutritional benefits. The red 'Samurai' carrot have pink flesh and is tinted by lycopene (another form of carotene). Lycopene is associated with reducing the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer. Plus they look really pretty on your plate!

  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli

    Purple hued sprouting broccoli is packed with phytochemical sulforaphane, which helps reduce the risk of stomach related cancer tumours, as well as heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. It also contains the vitamins green broccoli boasts, like iron, vitamin C and carotenoids.

  • White Asparagus

    If you're feeling a little bloated or run down, the white asparagus is a great way to detox your body and fill your body with folic acid. It's also nutritionally packed with naturally diuretic properties and helps combat liver and heart disease.

  • Purple Cauliflower

    Liven up your vegetable intake with a F1 'Graffiti' cauliflower. The cauliflower;s purple shade is down to its anthocyanins ingredients, which provides a great source of antioxidant and cancer-preventing qualities.

  • Rainbow Chard

    Rainbow chard is a great way to get phytonutrients into your diet. These come in all different shade, with their stalk being the most colourful. Specifically, the beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin found in chard help maintain eye health and may reduce the risk of cataracts.

  • Yellow Courgettes

    Also known as Zucchini, these yellow courgettes are a great source of potassium, which help lower blood pressure. They also have ply-phenolic antioxidants in them, which is a great anti-ageing ingredient. This zesty coloured vegetable is also a good source of fibre and helps lower cholesterol.

  • Pink Sweetcorn

    This pretty looking corn is packed full of the same vitamins as yellow corn - folic acid, and Vitamin B2 to name a few. Pink corn however, is a great source of thiamine, which helps improve memory and increases energy levels.

  • Yellow Tomatoes

    Yellow tomatoes have all the health benefits as red tomatoes, except the yellow kind have added vitamin B2 because of their colour. This helps control metabolism and energy levels, as well as being a great source of fibre, iron and zinc.

  • Purple Potatoes

    Around 7,000 years ago, the purple potato was considered a good of the Gods. Today, it's not so Godly, but it still packs a nutritional punch. This purple coloured spud contains an abundance of potassium, plus the purple pigment provides powerful anthocyanins antioxidants, which help boost the immune system and even age-related memory loss.

  • Lemon Cucumbers

    This cross-breed vegetable of a cucumber and lemon, is also known as 'Dosaki' and is widely used in curries. It has a high water content, which is great for hydration and skin complexion.