The campaign to promote veganism by exposing the destructive reality of the animal agriculture industry.

STUDY: Meat and masculinity – why some men just can’t stomach plant-based food

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Many interviewees made a strong link between animal meat and their own masculinity. 'I don't want to end up with my friends laughing at me over a plant-based burger', one said. Another said plant-based burgers were 'ruining his reputation as a man'.

DORA MARINOVA: Meat alternatives are suddenly everywhere, from burger joints to supermarket shelves to restaurant-grade food. One problem? For men, in particular, there is often a visceral attachment to slaughter-derived meat. This could pose a stumbling block for an industry worth an estimated $A9.4 billion globally in 2020 and seeing significant growth, with grocery sales in Australia up by 46% in 2020.

Our new research is based on interviews with 36 men who recently went to vegan restaurants in Sydney and tried a plant-based burger. We found none of these men, who usually eat animal meat four to five times a week or more, were likely to include plant-based alternatives in their diets permanently. But why? That’s the interesting part.

Many of our interviewees made a strong link between animal meat and their own masculinity. “I don’t want to end up with my friends laughing at me over a plant-based burger,” one said. Another told us plant-based burgers were “ruining [his] reputation as a man.” A third said he felt guilty choosing plant-based burgers: “I was feeling I was sacrificing my manhood, my masculinity. It’s even worse when you are kind of forced to do it as everyone around is doing it. There is no other option”…

We believe two psychological responses are at work: The men we interviewed saw the idea of a vegan-only menu as a blow to their freedom to choose, regardless of whether they enjoyed the burger. They were determined to restore their freedom. This is in line with the idea of psychological reactance, which suggests people will react very strongly to perceived loss of freedoms.

On the other hand, the men we interviewed wanted to impress or please their girlfriends or partners who had taken them to the restaurant. This is linked to impression management theory, which describes how we strive to be in control of how others see us. Earlier research has shown men, in particular, can buy into eating larger and unhealthy meals as part of impression management…

Our study shows any marketing messages to encourage men to take up plant-based alternatives will need to be tailored very carefully. These could include: Describing plant-based foods as a deliberate choice to make to improve nutrition, reduce health risks and improve the environment. This approach would be likely to suppress the reactance backlash. Presenting new forms of male identity focused on food to describe a masculinity centered around caring for themselves and for wilderness to create a positive impression management.

Even with reluctant or avoidant eaters, the plant-based sector is still expected to grow strongly, adding $3 billion to the Australian economy by 2030. Just imagine if we could bring everyone along—even self-described carnivores. SOURCE…

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