Men won’t go vegan because they don’t think it’s MANLY, scientists say


  • Men are less likely to be vegans because the diet is not seen as masculine
  • But a vegan diet appears less emasculating if it uses more red-blooded language

Men are less likely to be vegans than women because the diet is not seen as masculine, a study suggests.

There is evidence that men are far less willing than women to give up steaks and barbecues for a trendy vegan diet.

To understand why, researchers asked 539 people to rate four vegan meals on a scale of how suitable they were for men or for women.

The vegan burger, carbonara, goulash and salad were described, on average, as being more appropriate for women to eat than men.

But the study suggests a vegan diet could appear less emasculating for men if it used more red-blooded language.

Men are less likely to be vegans than women because the diet is not seen as masculine, a study suggests (stock image)

Men are less likely to be vegans than women because the diet is not seen as masculine, a study suggests (stock image)  

Half the people in the study were given masculine descriptions of the food, like a ‘beast burger’ rather than a ‘wow-factor burger’ or a hearty goulash instead of a gourmet one.

The man-friendly descriptions of the food included the words smoky, greasy and juicy, with the burger and carbonara described as coming in a ‘massive portion’ for ‘even the biggest appetite’.

People given manly descriptions of the vegan meals rated them as less suitable for women than men given neutral descriptions like ‘creamy’ and ‘delicious’.

This suggests more masculine marketing of vegan foods could make them seem less girly.

But even though people saw vegan foods as less feminine when they had masculine names and descriptions, they still rated the meals as slightly more suitable for women than men.

Unfortunately they were also no more likely to say they would like to eat the vegan meal, would be willing to try it, or thought it would taste good.

Alma Scholz, who led the study from the University of Würzburg but is now based at Stockholm University, said: ‘Men might be less inclined to consume vegan food due to the need to appear masculine.

‘Perhaps if we used even more masculine language to describe this food, we could make men more willing to eat it.’

Figures show that just 3.82 per cent of men are vegan, while almost one in 10 (9.4 per cent) women now follow the diet

Figures show that just 3.82 per cent of men are vegan, while almost one in 10 (9.4 per cent) women now follow the diet

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Communication, asked people to rate the suitability of vegan food for men of women from one to seven.

A score of four meant it was not particularly suitable for either sex, with a higher score meaning it was more suitable for men and a score below four meaning it was more suitable for women.

When a burger was described to half the volunteers using neutral words, the average rating was 3.68.

But the rating rose to 3.98 from people, to whom it was described using more masculine words – meaning it was almost seen as a meal equally suitable for both men and women.

Men appear very sensitive to whether food might make them look like less of a man, based on the study findings.

Women’s ratings of whether vegan food is more suitable for males or females did not significantly change when masculine descriptions were used – but men’s did.

The study authors note that meat is culturally associated with strength and masculinity, which might make a vegan diet a hard-sell.

Switching to plant-based meat can help the environment, experts say

According to scientists, switching to plant-based products that mimic real meat can help the planet. 

Livestock farming at the current rate hurt the environment in a number of different ways.

Cows, pigs and other farm animals release huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas and contributes to global warming.

Raising livestock also means converting forests into agricultural land, meaning CO2-absorbing trees are being cut down, further adding to climate change.  

Juicy Marbles is just one firm creating plant-based vegan products, which are increasingly taking space on the supermarket shelves

Juicy Marbles is just one firm creating plant-based vegan products, which are increasingly taking space on the supermarket shelves  

Factory farms and crop growing also requires massive amounts of water, with 542 litres of water being used to produce just a single chicken breast.

As well as this, the nitrogen-based fertiliser used on crops adds to nitrous oxide emissions. 

Nitrous oxide is around 300 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

These fertilisers can also end up in rivers, further adding to pollution. 

Scientists have recently suggested that bringing plant-based meat to public institutions such as schools and prisons can help trigger a wider transition amongst the general public. 

‘Favouring alternative proteins in public procurement policies globally could help to bring forward tipping points in their adoption,’ they say in a report. 

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