If you've ever wondered why fewer men tend to embrace vegetarian lifestyles than women, a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research may have the answer.
Researchers from several top American universities found a strong connection between eating meat -- especially muscle meat, like steak -- and masculinity. Study participants, when placed in experiments that explored connections between metaphors and certain foods like meat and milk, were found to rate meat more masculine than vegetables. When people discussed meat, it inspired more masculine words. Additionally, the subjects rated men who ate meat as more masculine than their non-meat eating counterparts.
It should, however, be noted that most subjects were from the United States and Great Britain. However, the authors took a close look at 23 languages with gendered pronouns; in most, meat was related to the male gender.
"To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food," the authors write in the study. "Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy."
The study concludes that marketing experts and health advocates should consider the thoughts and feelings conjured by foods if they want to successfully shape consumer attitudes.
The study isn't the first to make a connection between meat and masculinity. In 2011, Appetite journal published a study that found that people -- even those who are vegetarians themselves -- rated vegetarians as more virtuous, but less masculine.