Some men won’t go vegan because it threatens their masculinity, study shows

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Whether it’s adopting a flexitarian lifestyle, going completely vegan or just swapping out the odd meaty meal once in a while, a lot of people are making small changes to their diets these days, for the good of the planet.

But a new study has shown that while women are embracing the no-meat diet, some men find the idea somewhat emasculating.

Yeah, you read that right.

Depressingly, it seems we’re holding onto old-fashioned stereotypes about what a man should be, and it seems blokes think having a large proportion of meat in your diet means you’re on the right track.

man eating meat manly study

Ooo so manly (Credit: Alamy)

The study, conducted by researchers at University of Canberra in Australia, was called Masculinity Matters for Meat Consumption: An Examination of Self-Rated Gender Typicality, Meat Consumption, and Veg*nism in Australian Men and Women, and surveyed 5,244 men and women on their attitudes towards eating meat.

It found that both men and women with strong ideas of gender norms were more attached to meat, with men who considered themselves as “masculine” finding the idea of cutting it out their diets a “violation”.

“Our findings suggest that men in Australia may resist giving up meat because eating meat is a way of enacting their masculinity,” one of the authors noted. “We also showed that more feminine women viewed meat as more natural, necessary, and nice.”

This shows that anybody with more conservative views of society and of gender tended on the whole to be less flexible about their diet and giving up meat.

man eating meat manly study

Gender stereotypes affect attitudes towards veganism (Credit: Alamy)

Before asking questions related to the meat-eating aspect of the research, they got the participants to rate themselves on a scale of how masculine or feminine they thought they were.

They also explained that while men and women may require the same amount of meat for normal functioning, men tend to indulge in it more and this difference is the detail that spurs them on to relate meat-eating to masculinity.

“Media representations of meat are gendered, and many advertisements position meat as ‘manly,’” the researchers wrote in their report. “Even preschool-aged boys implicitly associate meat with maleness.”

The study also further clarified what in particular about the meat eating is seen as “manly”, with a big portion of the participants justifying the killing of animals as one of four reasons that they perceive it in such a way.

“It could be men’s greater endorsement of masculinity that makes them more willing to defend eating animals on the basis of normality and enjoyment,” the authors noted.

man eating meat manly study

Women are more likely to embrace a plant-based lifestyle (Credit: Alamy)

This more “masculine” demographic was also less likely to reduce their meat consumption or try out a vegan or vegetarian diet, however, there was no direct association between them having a higher meat intake.

“Australia has a long agricultural history and Australian culture places high value on barbecue, with this style of cooking seen as a ‘masculine’ activity,” they added.

The study looked at previous research from 2021 which uncovered how almost three quarters of male respondents would rather have a decade taken off their lifespans than say goodbye to meat. Wowza.  

“Our findings support previous research suggesting that it is not simply being male that leads to greater meat consumption behaviours,” the ANU study explained.

“Instead, self-identified levels of masculinity may explain apparent gender differences, with more masculine men more resistant to reducing their meat intake.

man eating meat manly study

Men are more attached to their burgers… (Credit: Alamy)

“Interestingly, we also found some evidence that women’s femininity was similarly (and often, just as strongly) associated with meat-related attitudes as men’s masculinity.

“Thus, self-rated gender typicality can help us understand the gendered nature of meat consumption and low prevalence of veganism in Australia.

So there we have it, apparently veganism is not “manly enough” for certain men.

We promise, nobody is gonna judge your manhood if you eat a vegetable or two. Try it some time.