Perceived Masculinity And Being Veg
In the U.S. and many other countries, meat has long been associated with masculinity, from images of men devouring rib-eye steaks to the prevalence of phrases like “real men eat meat.” This article, published in the psychological journal Appetite, seeks to determine how such attitudes may affect peoples’ perceptions of vegans. It discusses a series of four studies that examined the influence of diet on gendered perceptions:
- In Study 1, participants rated the masculinity levels of fictional male or female characters (targets) described as following either a vegetarian or omnivorous diets. Results showed no significant difference in perceived levels of masculinity for male or female targets due to diet.
- Study 2 used a similar set up to study 1, but included a larger number of participants and had them rate fictional targets described as following either vegetarian or vegan diets. While results showed no difference in overall ratings of masculinity when comparing vegan and vegetarian targets of the same sex, they showed that female participants actually rated vegetarian male targets as slightly less masculine compared to male participants.
- Study 3 used targets described as following either vegan or omnivorous diets. Results showed that vegan targets — particularly males — were perceived of as less masculine than omnivores by both male and female participants.
- Study 4 used targets described as following vegan diets either by choice or due to health. Results showed that targets who were vegan by choice — again, particularly males — were perceived of as less masculine than those who were vegan for health reasons.
The author concludes that dietary preferences can affect gender perceptions and that men who eat a vegan diet may be perceived of as particularly less masculine than men who eat meat. Interestingly, the author suggests that the perceived masculinity of vegetarians is similar to that of omnivores because the vegetarian diet is becoming increasingly common in the United States. As the vegan diet gains traction, we may see a similar shift in perceptions. In the meantime, the author recommends several directions for further research including studies to help “create positive impressions of meatless diets that could induce people to eat less meat.”