Vegetarian and vegan diets might be having a moment, but according to a study conducted by the British University of Southhampton, men are embarrassed to order vegetarian food.
Researches with the Man Food Project surveyed 22 men to explore the social and cultural pressures men are under when it comes to dining out. The group was split into three categories: men who were vegetarian for environmental reasons, those who wanted to build muscle without relying on meat, and those who were on economically restricted diets.
In most cases, regardless of the reasons behind their diet, the participants expressed embarrassment and shame around ordering meatless meals.
“A number of them relayed different experiences that indicated shame, embarrassment, or conflict-avoidance that on occasion led them to eat meat, or offer meat to guests in their house,” Dr. Emma Roe, lead researcher and professor at the University of Southhamton, told Munchies.
Roe explained that one reason men feel shameful about pursuing an all-veg diet is that meat has been a huge part of the male role in the evolution of civilization.
“Men have been the dominant power in human civilization; thus, the association of eating meat is stronger for men than for women,” she said, also nothing that men have historically been in the roles of butcher and barbecuer.
Vegetarianism and veganism is often perceived as a feminine way to eat. A 2016 study published by the UK’s Vegan Society found that 63 percent of vegans were women, and only 37 percent were men.
Despite recent innovations in vegetarian and vegan food options like veggie burgers that bleed and milk alternatives, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 2018 will be a record breaking year for meat consumption across the country.
But as more of the world’s agricultural land is used to raise and graze livestock, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, experts have warned that people will need to cut back on the amount of meat they consume. The study aimed to begin to understand what might impede people — especially men — from giving up meat for good.
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