What do you think when you see a man aggressively biting into a thick cut of red meat? What do you think when you see a man pouring a nice vinaigrette over his healthy salad? Science says you probably think the carnivore is more masculine than the vegetarian.
A study conducted by researchers from several top U.S. universities and published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people tend to associate meat-eating with manliness. This could be an explanation for why more women than men gravitate toward vegetarianism.
During the experiments, participants were surveyed on metaphors involving certain foods like meat and milk. Researchers found that participants viewed meat to be more masculine than vegetables. When people discussed meat, it tended to prompt them to use more masculine words.
Overall, the study found that participants viewed meat-eating men, especially those who eat muscle meat like steak, to be manlier than their vegetarian counterparts.
This association goes beyond psychology, though. Even linguistics give off the impression that meat is manly. Researchers studied 23 languages and found that most of them used a masculine pronoun for the word "meat."
"To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food," the authors wrote. "Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy."
Guess the expression "you are what you eat" really rings true... at least in the eyes of society.