Redefining Masculinity, Reducing Meat Consumption
Meat consumption has long been associated with traditional masculinity, as the act of eating meat is seen as a symbol of strength and dominance. Therefore, research has found that men tend to eat more meat and are more resistant to vegetarianism than women. High rates of meat consumption among men pose significant threats to environmental sustainability, men’s health, and animal welfare.
This paper argues that challenging these stereotypes is essential for encouraging men to embrace alternative protein sources, such as plant-based options or emerging cultured meat products. By reframing the narrative around meat consumption, it’s possible to reshape societal expectations and promote more inclusive, health-conscious dietary choices.
Interventions to reduce meat consumption tend to be less effective for men. For example, men are less likely than women to have negative feelings about meat after an emotional appeal like humanizing non-human animals or depicting meat as coming from a baby animal. To address this, researchers in this study have proposed three strategies for aligning meat reduction with masculinity.
Promoting New Masculinity
The authors argue that promoting the adoption of new forms of masculinity that emphasize authenticity, personal growth, self-awareness, nurturing instincts, and a willingness to challenge traditional cultural definitions of masculinity can lead to a positive shift in attitudes toward meat consumption.
Research suggests that men who embrace these updated notions of masculinity are more likely to display empathy towards non-human animals, express genuine concern for the environment, and break away from deeply ingrained gendered eating behavior patterns. The authors argue that, as more men become vegetarians, a wider cultural definition of masculinity could develop which prioritizes compassion over relationships of domination.
Branding Meat Reduction as Masculine
The paper argues that media endorsements that epitomize masculinity can encourage men to reduce meat consumption. While vegetarianism itself hasn’t been studied much, masculine branding makes men more open to other products associated with femininity, such as sustainable consumption. Media that features highly masculine public figures who endorse plant-based diets can shift the perception of meat reduction, making it more appealing and appropriate for men, ultimately increasing their willingness to lower their meat intake. The authors also suggest that advertisements can show masculine-appearing men choosing plant-based options over meat. However, they warn that this doesn’t necessarily work in sync with challenging masculinity.
Emphasizing Performance Benefits of Meat Reduction
Emphasizing the advantages of plant-based diets for men’s athletic and sexual performance can be a powerful motivator for change. Campaigns, such as the 2018 documentary Game Changers, challenge the notion that meat is essential for building muscle and strength, demonstrating that athletes can excel on plant-based diets. Moreover, concentrating on the benefits of plant-based diets for sexual performance, including connections between dietary habits and erectile dysfunction, may inspire men to reevaluate and adjust their eating behaviors. The authors think that these campaigns are promising but note that they haven’t been studied in depth.
Ultimately, transforming the association between meat consumption and masculinity requires a multifaceted approach that addresses cultural norms, personal values, and societal expectations. By promoting a more inclusive and diverse understanding of masculinity, it is possible to create a future where dietary choices are driven by health, sustainability, and ethical considerations rather than by outdated gender norms.