It’s a stereotype that holds true across so many cultures--rough and tumble cowboys need their Ribeyes and men love to grill out and throw a huge steak on the grill. We subscribe to these stereotypes everyday as a result of effective marketing. A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that male consumers avoid vegetarian options because they’re not quite macho enough.
Science Daily reports:
In a number of experiments that looked at metaphors and certain foods, like meat and milk, the authors found that people rated meat as more masculine than vegetables. They also found that meat generated more masculine words when people discussed it, and that people viewed male meat eaters as being more masculine than non-meat eaters.
The study was conducted mostly the in the U.S. and Britain, but the authors also analyzed 23 other languages and found that across the board meat was considered more masculine than vegetables.
Again, Science Daily:
If marketers or health advocates want to counteract such powerful associations, they need to address the metaphors that shape consumer attitudes, the authors explain. For example, an education campaign that urges people to eat more soy or vegetables would be a tough sell, but reshaping soy burgers to make them resemble beef or giving them grill marks might help cautious men make the transition.
It's no surprise when you consider the amount of money spent on marketing meat. Mat wrote that the meat lobby grossly outspends the veg lobby, "contrary to the accusations sometimes leveled by the meat industry at animal welfare advocates."
The Impact of False Masculinity
One of the single most beneficial things you can do to impact your environmental footprint is to reduce meat in your diet and the same is true for your health. One recent study found that eating one serving per day (the size of a deck of cards) of unprocessed red meat increases your risk of premature death by 13 percent. If that meat was processed (bacon, sausage, etc) then your risk increased by 20 percent. By replacing that serving with fish the risk went down by 7 percent but even better, by replacing meat with nuts it went down 19 percent, and beans it went down 10 percent.
It’s a false association that needs to be remolded considering the health and environmental repercussions of thinking a steak makes you more of a man.