Men eat more meat when their masculinity is threatened, says study

Research published by the University of Hawaii revealed that men routinely incorporate more red meat into their diet when they feel their masculinity is threatened. According to the study, men react to “threats to their gender identity” with “masculine overcompensation,” a phenomenon in which men “enact extreme displays of masculine behavior to restore their masculinity”. As men tend to see meat as a representation of power, one of these compensation mechanisms is expressed in men’s dietary choices, which are “influenced by hegemonic ideologies of masculinity to which they feel pressured to conform in order to maintain their masculinity”.

This discovery shows in the vegan demographics as well: in the UK, women are twice as likely to be vegan than men, and only 24% of vegans in the US are men and 75% of organized vegan activists are women.

Masculinity is often defined in part by the conquest and maintenance of power. One of the ways this is achieved is by using symbols of violence, subjugation and dominance.

One of the behaviors shown to be correlated with men’s perception of their own masculinity is the consumption of red meat: “Men use the masculinity-symbolizing properties of meat to compensate for the forced reduction in status evoked by the masculinity threat condition. In doing so, the identification with a gender-appropriate behavior (eating meat) defends the self-representation against the masculinity threat,” says the study. Men who are more attached to this traditional notion of masculinity tend to shape their behaviors accordingly. Since it is a notion based on traditional male roles, it feels endangered by anything that it sees as feminine.

If you are a man whose masculinity isn’t threatened by plants, make the better choice for your health, the planet, and for animals by signing up to our vegan challenge here.