New research suggests some men identify with a new form of masculinity that values authenticity, domesticity, and holistic self-awareness.
- Media and societal norms have been feeding us the same "meat is manly" ideology for decades, maybe without many of us realizing it.
- A new study questions the stereotypical narrative that real men eat meat by taking a look at the variation in how men identify themselves and their values.
- The psychological link between meat and masculinity will likely remain alive and well, however, this study (and others that follow suit) can continue to challenge the narrative.
Society’s psychological link between meat and masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM0NjU5NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTI0Mzg1NH0.OkRwFQ0wP0obBZJvskvWb1IDRUzwP6LdRUOInoETxwc/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C52%2C0%2C52&height=700" id="9f729" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="10a00f24b28cd1318c50122f0205fca8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="male barbecuing meat while female watching concept of masculinity and meat" />
One 2018 study found that men routinely incorporate more red meat in their diet to preempt the negative emotions that are caused by threats to their masculinity.
Photo by bbernard un Shutterstock<p>With the release of her book in 1999, Adams was able to highlight the idea that meat has become something of a symbol of masculinity, mainly by companies attempting to promote meat sales. Putting that theory to the test in today's society, one simple search for "making salad" on a stock image site will give you countless photos of women making salads in their kitchens. Another search for "barbeque" will show dozens of men grilling meat outdoors.</p><p>This association between meat and masculinity is something that has been deemed a societal norm for decades, perhaps without many of us even realizing it. <a href="https://experiment.com/projects/meat-can-manhood-stomach-the-punch-of-the-vegetarian-alternative?s=search" target="_blank">One 2018 study</a> found that men routinely incorporate more red meat in their diet to preempt the negative emotions that are caused by threats to their masculinity.</p><p><a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-30417-001" target="_blank">A 2013 study</a> argued Adams' original theory on the sexual politics of meat with results that suggested men associate eating meat with animals being lower in a hierarchy system than humans, whereas the majority of women who eat meat try to disassociate animals from food and avoid thinking about the treatment of animals. </p><p>Alongside the narrative that meat is masculine comes the stigma around vegetarianism or veganism. These are both things that society deems "soft", "sensitive" or "whiny". </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.vegansociety.com/whats-new/news/find-out-how-many-vegans-there-are-great-britain" target="_blank">this Vegan Society survey,</a> while the number of vegans is rapidly increasing (there were three and a half times more vegans in 2016 as there were in 2006), there is still a massive gender gap, with 63 percent of participants identifying as female and 37 percent identifying as male.<br></p><p>Researchers on this survey theorize that the main cause of this gap is the psychological link between meat and masculinity that is seemingly everywhere in today's society. </p>
Some men identify with a new form of holistic, self-aware masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM0NjU5Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzQ2MzIzMH0.b5Iay2oh2gt8YIbGQuBssQAlVTbcr5jQgD3cNrvU5mU/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C52%2C0%2C52&height=700" id="daa1c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c5757809798a679170bc1a15cca6b27e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="businessman in dress shirt and tie eating a salad at work" />
The results of a new 2020 study reveal that there are new forms of masculinity that are linked with less meat consumption and a more positive attitude towards vegetarianism.
Photo by Stock-Asso on Shutterstock<p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666319313704?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">A new study</a> questions the stereotypical narrative of carnivores by taking a look at the variation in how men identify themselves and their values.</p><p>In the study, 309 male meat-eating participants were asked about their self-identification with new forms of masculinity, their attachment to eating meat, their willingness to reduce their meat intake, and their general attitudes towards vegetarians. </p><p>The results of this study suggest that men who identify more strongly with new forms of masculinity tend to consume less meat, have a weaker attachment to eating meat, and have a greater tendency to reduce their meat intake when possible. These men also showed more positive attitudes towards people who choose to be vegetarians. </p><p>This study is the first of it's kind to underscore the idea that not all men think alike and that biological sex differences shouldn't be taken into account when studying the consumption (or lack of consumption) of meat products. </p><p><strong>Changing the way researchers conduct studies like this can help turn the tide.</strong></p><p>Modern studies such as this are leaning more towards different tools that place less of a stigma on various types of masculinity. This study, for example, used the <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1097184X16634797" target="_blank">New Masculinity Inventory</a> (NMI), where high scores can suggest holistic attentiveness, questioning of male norms, authenticity to self, and sensitivity to male privilege. </p><p>Studies like this, where not only the results but the tools used to conduct the study take into account the varying types of masculinity in the participants, can only offer more accurate results due to being more inclusive and less stereotypical. </p><p><strong>Does vegetarianism stand a chance against meat-eating masculinity? </strong></p><p>The sheer amount of information surrounding vegetarianism and <a href="https://share.upmc.com/2014/03/benefits-of-a-vegetarian-diet/" target="_blank">all the attached benefits</a> is astounding - so why is society having such a hard time keeping up? Why are men still less likely to decrease their meat consumption? </p><p>The "meat is manly" ideology will likely remain alive and well in today's society due to advertisements and societal norms, however this study (and others that follow suit) can continue to challenge the narrative. We can continue to promote the idea that vegetarianism isn't feminine and eating meat isn't masculine - they are simply choices that we make based on our unique views and how we feel about the information that is presented to us. </p>
We all know somebody who avoids meat. These schools of thought suggest those people are onto something.
- The moral arguments behind vegetarianism are ancient, numerous, and well reasoned.
- They tend to focus on the actions behind meat production.
- While the question of what an ethical diet is remains unanswered, these thinkers and schools provide a good place to start.
Peter Singer’s Utilitarianism: The life you can save might be a pig’s<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="8SCEPqAJ" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="2f8a6976db2e3efad267239a961582ae"> <div id="botr_8SCEPqAJ_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/8SCEPqAJ-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/8SCEPqAJ-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/8SCEPqAJ-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p><a href="https://bigthink.com/u/petersinger" target="_self">Peter Singer</a> is an Australian philosopher well known for his work in Utilitarian ethics. His 1975 book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Animal-Liberation-Definitive-Classic-Movement/dp/0061711306?SubscriptionId=AKIAJGTABWIBL2VADPUA&tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=0061711306" target="_blank">Animal Liberation</a><em> </em>is a groundbreaking work in the field of animal rights and presents a bold program for treating animals much better than we currently do.</p><p>He begins with a simple <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/6/18/8802755/peter-singer" target="_blank">idea</a>: animals have interests that should be considered equal to the similar interests of human beings. If it is wrong to inflict unnecessary pain on human beings, then it is also wrong to do it to animals. </p><p>While it is true that many arguments have been made to separate humans and animals because of the differences between them, Singer points out that we never apply them to other members of the human race. If we can't hurt and eat people with very low intelligence or who cannot use language, then why do we justify eating animals because they don't use syntax? Since animals clearly can feel, why should we not consider them as equal when calculating the net pleasure and pain caused by an action? </p><p>He argues that any attempt to morally separate humans from other animals when it comes to whose pain matters is based primarily on speciesism, prejudice against other animals, rather than a consistent logic and should be rejected. He then concludes, given the nature of industrial farming and the suffering many animals endure because of it, that we should switch to vegetarian and vegan diets to maximize the total happiness.</p><p>There are two subtleties to his arguments that must be remembered. The first is that he is not talking about "animal rights" in the pure sense. He certainly isn't arguing that an elephant be given the right to vote. He is arguing only that the difference between pain in humans and elephants is morally irrelevant and that the elephant's interests should be considered as equal to a humans' when deciding what to do. </p><p>Secondly, he is a utilitarian, and some apparent contradictions come with that. Most notably, he argues that some medical experimentation on animals is morally justifiable, as the benefits of the research will significantly outweigh the pain caused to the animal in the laboratory. Similarly, while he likes free-range farming as an idea, he doesn't encourage it in all cases as it can be worse for the environment than factory farming. The cost to benefit ratio doesn't quite work out for <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/6/18/8802755/peter-singer" target="_blank">him</a>.</p><p>His work has been widely influential, and most of the modern animal liberation movement cites him as a major influence. However, some philosophers, such as <a href="http://www.richardsorabji.co.uk/" target="_blank">Richard Sorabji</a>, have argued that his moral theory is simplistic and gives rise to strange moral instructions in some situations. </p>
Religious Objections: Thou Shalt Not Kill Anything<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="WEfje5Q5" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="89993d444fc4087733dd236c0d7cb64a"> <div id="botr_WEfje5Q5_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/WEfje5Q5-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/WEfje5Q5-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/WEfje5Q5-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Many religions have lines of scripture that are commonly interpreted as encouraging or even mandating vegetarianism.</p><p>The Dharmic Religions of India are well known for their tendency towards vegetarianism. In Jainism, vegetarianism is mandatory, as harming animals is considered bad <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5CVTdd0Yrgdv0rlfdnx3yn2/could-you-eat-like-a-jain" target="_blank">karma</a>. Hinduism and Buddhism also have scripture forbidding violence against <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=JwGZTQunH00C&pg=PA6#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_blank">animals</a>, but how much that applies to the killing of animals for food is still debated. For those who do eat meat, ritualized methods of minimizing the suffering of the animal before death <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jhatka" target="_blank">exist</a>. </p><p>A third of <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=QrHPXSP1z-AC&pg=PA99#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_blank">Hindus</a> are vegetarians. The number of vegetarian Buddhists is not known with certainty. The Dali Lama tried the diet for a while himself but was forced back to omnivorism again for health <a href="https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2010/10/16/the_dalai_lama_is_a_meateater.html" target="_blank">reasons</a>. He continues to encourage vegetarianism in the name of reducing the suffering of animals.</p> Similar ideas exist in the Abrahamic traditions, though they are notably less hardline. Some Rabbis have argued that Judaism encourages <a href="https://www.jewishveg.org/torah.html" target="_blank">vegetarianism</a>, and many Christian monastic orders have been vegetarian though history. Leo Tolstoy, the author of <em>War and Peace</em>, incorporated vegetarianism into his Christian pacifism later in life, as eating meat required "an act which is contrary to the moral feeling- killing."<br><br><p><a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pythagoras/" target="_blank">Pythagoras</a>, of the theorem, encouraged an entire <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pythagoreanism/" target="_blank">way of life </a>named for him which included vegetarianism. This was perhaps motivated by his belief in reincarnation and aversion to violence. </p>
Environmentalism: The hippies are taking over!<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="1mPdquJB" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="0a8c0159657dac724c8192d85db06a87"> <div id="botr_1mPdquJB_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/1mPdquJB-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/1mPdquJB-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/1mPdquJB-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Lastly, many recent thinkers, including Steve Best and Peter Singer, have put forward arguments based on the environmental costs of industrial animal farming as a reason to cut back on our animal consumption. They point to studies like one in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07384-z" target="_blank">Nature</a>, which reminds us of how much of the carbon footprint of meat production we'll have to cut back on if we want to reach our goals in the fight against climate change.</p><p>You might have noticed that most of these schools and thinkers share a common theme; they tend to object to the <em>production</em> of meat, the killing and suffering of the animal, rather than the actual act of eating it. Some people make arguments along these lines, but they are in the <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/vegetarianism/" target="_blank">minority</a>. </p><p>Most, if not all, of the thinkers mentioned above would undoubtedly be fine with lab-grown meat if the energy costs of producing it could be lowered. Similarly, many debates over if it is alright to eat oysters, which probably can't feel pain and are rather plant-like, have taken place as part of the broader discussion of moral vegetarianism.</p><p>There you have it; philosophers are often behind vegetarianism, and they make very good arguments as to why you should eat less meat, if any at all. While they won't convince everybody to switch to tofu, they do provide an excellent starting point for any discussion of what an ethical diet is. <strong></strong></p>
You cannot live on steak and avocados alone, says Jillian Michaels, in this divisive video.
- Big Think's most controversial video of 2019 stirs the pot of the keto diet debate with fitness and nutrition expert Jillian Michaels, who asks: Are keto diet advocates selling people a false—or at least a selective—message?
- The keto diet increases fat and protein intake while dramatically reducing carbohydrate intake to about 20 grams a day or about 80 calories worth of carbs out of what could be anywhere from a 1600 to 2500 calorie diet per day. That throws your body into a state of emergency called ketosis, which burns fat fast.
- Michaels' main critique of the keto diet is that there is zero calorie restriction, it cuts out nutrients and digestive enzymes from fruits, and that it's high in animal fats and animal proteins, which negatively impacts telomeres, oxidative stress, and may increase inflammation. Michaels stands by the effects of regular exercise and what she calls a "commonsense diet": don't eat too much, eat real food and get a range of macronutrients.
Thou cans't not live on steak and avocados alone.
- Keto diets have attracted a lot of media attention lately, and are becoming quite the rage in wellness circles.
- But while it might make you lose weight in the short term, it's doing one heck of a number on your body.
- Fitness and nutrition expert Jillian Michaels walks us through why keto might be a no-no.
Could vegetarianism actually lead to a lower quality of life?
Every month an onslaught of new nutrition news dominates the health blogosphere. Fish will kill you. Fish are heart-healthy. Coconut oil is like manna from heaven. Coconut oil will definitely give you a heart attack. Red meat is the devil, unless it's raw, in which case you can survive solely from it. Kelp. And so on.