As someone who has personally seen the benefits of eating a lot less meat, I don't need too much persuading about the value of a plant-based diet. The same can't be said, however, for many of my male friends—especially in my native England, where meat is often just seen as "what blokes eat."
A new campaign from food charity Hubbub is aiming to explore ways that 20 male gym users—selected from project sponsor Nationwide Insurance's workforce—might be persuaded to cut their meat consumption, and consume more plant-based foods instead. Here's the rationale behind the Meat Your Match campaign, according to the charity's own website:
Initially, the work will involve two months of coaching, support and meal planning for project participants, but the goal is to use this trial to identify effective strategies and resources for reaching this hard-to-persuade demographic. While the launch video focuses on an interview with an exclusively plant-based coach, the goal is not for gym goers to go entirely 'cold turkey' (sorry!). Instead, Hubbub is aiming for a 50% cut in consumption.
'Meat your Match' is deliberately aimed at male gym users as 60% of men exceed current guidance on daily consumption of red and processed meat. Research indicates that for many men, eating meat is embedded into the cultural consciousness following the mantra that people have always eaten meat as part of their diet and there is no reason to change this. Men are also susceptible to “protein fever” which has bolstered a multibillion-pound protein supplement. According to Mintel, three-quarters of consumers indicated that they used high-protein foods/beverages in 2016, with a quarter of the population specifically using high protein sport’s nutrition bars.
From the nationwide roll-out of Sonic's beef/mushroom burger to the rise of reducetarianism, there does appear to be a growing realization that cutting our society's meat intake may require more options than the current all-or-nothing culture wars between carnivores and vegans.
It will be interesting to see how Hubbub's campaign goes.