“Don’t worry honey, I’ll cook the meat”. As soon as the weather warms up and the barbecue comes out, men from all ages reclaim their special relationship with meat and fire. It started as far back as prehistoric times when we evolved from scavengers to hunters and later discovered fire.
In Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat, Marta Zaraska explains how throughout history, meat eating has been consistently associated with men. Women find themselves relegated to handling the vegetables.
Today we know that high levels of meat consumption are detrimental to health and the environment. Eating meat (particularly red and processed meat) less often and in smaller portions would cut rates of cancers (particularly bowel cancer), heart disease and obesity. But when our food is so enshrined in symbolism how do you convince men to eat less meat?
#Vegcurious is a brand new campaign by Eating Better, Hubbub, the World Resources Institute and Do It Day initiative. It aims to encourage men to discover the amazing taste and nutritional possibilities of vegetables.
The campaign is supported by chef Bruno Loubet, carnivore and ardent vegetable lover, who made headlines last year by taking beef off the menu of his London restaurant “Grain Store”.
So yes, gentlemen, Vegcurious focuses on you. Wondering why? According to a (light-hearted) 2015 poll by meat snack company Pepperami, men would rather give up sex, Sky Sports, their job and would swim with sharks rather than become a vegetarian. 62% of men said they would never consider giving up meat completely.
And recent surveys and statistics speak for themselves
Men eat more meat than women 6 out of 10 men, compared to 1 in 4 women, exceed current health guidance of no more than 70g of red and processed meat a day. Women’s average meat consumption has fallen over the past 6 years, men’s has remained at the same level.
A significant proportion of people are actively choosing to eat less meat, but less men than women say they are making this shift.
Young men are more open to eating less meat than older men. 37% of males under 24 accept that ‘eating red meat is bad for you’ compared to only 14% of men aged 65-74.
Men perceive plant-based food as less nutritious, tasty, filling, and muscle-building than meat.
Men also eat meat—especially red meat—to affirm their masculinity (to themselves and others). Men who follow vegetarian diets are perceived as 35% less masculine than men who eat meat. Men who eat red meat are perceived as 20% more masculine than men who do not.
Still, women—especially younger women—think eating less meat is appealing in a partner. 23% of women ‘wish that my spouse/partner would eat less processed meat’, rising to more than a third (37%) of women aged 16-19. Almost 1 in 5 (18%) of 18-24 year olds say they ‘would never go on a date with someone who eats meat for every meal’. Over a quarter (26%) of 16-19 year old women say ‘I find male celebrities such as Brad Pitt attractive, because they have taken a stand against meat-eating’.
So there, you have it. If concerns about your health or the environment are not the main drivers behind your diet, remember, next time you are on a date, that the way today to a woman’s heart, has more to do with a plant-based diet that the size of your steak. If you are worried about the size of your pectorals, just look at Arnold Schwarzenegger who has never looked back since giving up meat.
Visit Vegcurious to see how easy and positive eating less meat can be. You’ll find links to some delicious veggie recipes to get you started.