Why Manly Men Think They Must Eat Meat (And How That Changes)

Give me meat photo by thomas r stegelmann

Alex Bove wants to know, “Should we really be shaming men for being able to pronounce quinoa?” On meat, masculinity, and men’s health and the sexual politics of meat.

As a fan of American football who does not consider himself a manly man™, I often find the messages advertisers attempt to send sports viewers puzzling. This Bud Light commercial played in heavy rotation during a recent N.F.L. weekend, and it’s made me think about the relationship between meat and masculinity:

Our male protagonist laments that an unnamed “she” packed veggie burgers in his tailgating cooler. He recalls “accidentally” eating one last time, when his team won. Ascribing a causal relationship to these two events, he reluctantly drops a quinoa burger onto the grill, despite his claims that it tastes like a dirty tree branch and his male friend’s comparison of the patty to a loofah. The ad’s tag line is that Bud Light is for “the fans who do whatever it takes.”

The ad relies on several tropes of hegemonic masculinity. The protagonist is a solitary male whose female partner is more concerned about healthy eating than he is. He is also presented as a buffoon who can’t pronounce “quinoa” and who believes in sports superstitions (indeed, the commercial closes with a riff from Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”). In the end, however, he will do anything, no matter how loathsome or humiliating, for his team. The ad’s tagline reassures men that “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work.” It’s important to remember that normalcy is desirable, but that the ends justify the means.

More importantly, the ad links meat eating with masculinity. The veggie burger is a poor substitute for a “real” burger: it both looks and tastes unappealing. Also, a real man would never voluntarily eat quinoa. Every circumstance leading up to his choice to eschew meat is accidental and/or fateful. He endures ridicule for his decision, but we are also meant to see his sacrifice as an act of bravery (thus, he is able to retain his masculinity, despite the obvious threat to it).

♦◊♦

As Carol Adams points out in her germinal book, The Sexual Politics of Meat, meat and masculinity are intimately connected, and meat eating is also related to the oppression of women. Just as we dissect non-human animals’ bodies into cuts of meat, we dissect and fetishize women’s body parts. Studies have consistently shown that violence against animals is correlated with violence against women. Adams suggests that the power relations that characterize patriarchal gender norms are reinforced by the imperative of male (masculine) meat consumption.

When we value meat eating as a masculine activity, we devalue not only women, who are statistically more likely to be vegetarians (for reasons of health and compassion for animals), but we also devalue men who choose vegetarianism or veganism. Indeed, a 2012 study found that both men and women associate meat—particularly “muscle” meats, steak, etc.—with masculinity. In addition, the study analyzed 23 languages and found a preponderance of masculine words used to describe meat.

The conflation of masculinity and meat eating is not just bad for men and women socially. It is also, quite literally, bad for men’s health. The two leading causes of death among men have both been linked to red meat consumption. A plant-based diet has been shown to lower the risks of several more major causes of male deaths (diabetes, stroke, and kidney disease, usually a complication of high blood pressure). Yet we persist in our assumptions that a healthy masculinity must include eating “manly” foods, and that foremost among those foods are high fat, high cholesterol animal products.

We must stop shaming men for knowing how to pronounce quinoa, and for wanting to adopt a diet based on compassion, concern for the environment, and concern for their own long-term health. Doing so will require us to jettison our ideas about the importance of men being physically big and strong, since a major justification for excessive meat consumption is that it provides necessary protein. It will also require us to abandon long-standing notions—perpetuated by entire academic fields, like evolutionary psychology—that men are natural hunters, an idea that we apply not only to our dietary gender norms but to our rhetoric around heterosexual dating (what Julia Serano calls the predatory/prey model) and traditional family dynamics.

Embracing a new generation of tofu-hungry men may seem weird, but it’s only weird if it doesn’t work, right?


Mentioned:

photo: Thomas R. Stegelmann / flickr

About Alex Bove

Alex Bove lives and teaches college English, Literature, and Creative Writing in Philadelphia. He is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality and is the creator of the Talk Like a Man Project, an interactive conversation about masculinity in America.

Comments

  1. Stevie Curry says:

    This article is a joke! Please!

  2. The link between red meat and mortality has been generally shown to be false. It’s processed meat that causes problems. A wide variety of protein sources is ideal for human consumption and that includes animal and plant proteins.
    Should we try and be more ethical in our food choices? Yes of course, battery/cage farming is horrible and not only is it not good for the animals, it affects the quality of the meat. The trouble is, stick the word organic in front of something and it doubles the price.

  3. Sebastian says:

    Look up vegan athletes online and then say we need to “jettison our ideas about the importance of men being physically big and strong” please 🙂

  4. Am I the only one that sees the irony of a “Lite” beer commercial poking fun at the supposed “real man” for eating a veggie burger?

  5. Humans have evolved with forward looking eyes and canines- just like all the other omnivorous mammals ..

    • …and all the other mostly-vegetarian primates. It’s much, much more plausible to explain our forward-facing eyes with reference to the need to navigate life in the trees than some need to chase down prey effectively, which is what explains the configuration of actual predators’ eyes.

  6. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Eating quinoa is like eating little rubber balls.

    • I think you ate different food. My mom is from Peru, and she cooks quinoa in a delicious way. The trick is to know how to prepare it, and to have the ingredients, that usually are from Peru and Bolivia.

  7. I’m building muscle eating potatoes, rice and all sorts of amazing carbs. Our body runs on glucose. The only fat we need is omega 3/6. No issues in the ED department either at 44 years old, thanks to leafy greens like spinach and arugula. 🙂

  8. Lord Boofhead says:

    Sigh more being an Omnivore = Eating Steak Egg and Chips for every meal horse shit…

    So disappointed….

  9. I don’t really think that vegetarianism = feminine. Nor does meat eating = masculine. Veggie burgers tasting like cardboard however is quite common. Diet crazy and willing to eat cardboard to save 50 calories type women are quite common. The guys I know who are vegetarians are cooks who make amazing dishes that you would never guess don’t have meat in them. You should see their faces when you suggest a veggie burger! LOL! Not a man but try to eat healthy woman here and still not a vegetarian. I eat meat, will occasionally eat the bacon cheese burger but do try to make that a rare event rather than the norm. I don’t think that makes me more feminine or masculine. Just human. However I am a feminine sports nut and do totally believe in superstitions and the outcomes. And, yes, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work.

    As for the guy who seems to think that all guys want “fit” women and that all women want “fit” men…BS. In our circle of friends alone I know skinny men who have curvy wives and model women who have round bald husbands. Attractive is whatever you find attractive. Period. For some girls the GQ look does it for them, for some it’s the scruffy lumberjack look. For some guys it’s the size zero model, for others it’s the round curvy type. Whatever floats your boat. Or as an even older saying goes “there’s a key for every lock”.

  10. Theorema Egregium says:

    I always try to argue by reference to other cultures and countries. 40% of people in India don’t eat meat and many more eat only little of it. Does that mean that Indians are unmanly? Of course not. So why would I be? I rest my case.

  11. Maybe they should have shown his packing his own lunch for once

  12. Alex Bove says:

    Here is an interesting addendum, a piece by the Wall Street Journal about how large food companies are attempting to market to men based on assumptions about masculinity:

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303680404579139422972891330

  13. If I stop thinking men who don’t eat meat are less manly, can all the vegetarians not look at me like I’m trying to be the protege of Hitler simply because I enjoy eating a Bacon Cheeseburger?

    Because that’s the point of this article right? To not shame people because of whatever decisions they have made concerning their diet. Which is a wonderful idea and one that should followed through with everyone. But normally when I’m feeling pressured or shamed by what I eat, 9 times out of 10 its by people who are Vegans, or vegitarians, or some other spin of “I don’t eat this meat/any meat/any meat by-product.” And that other 1 out of 10 is my mom, who also isn’t a vegan.

    I get why some people stray away from meat. I understand that some people feel better or more healthy when they do. But I enjoy eating meat, and I don’t think that’s something I should be ashamed about.

  14. Meat Eating Omnivore Man says:

    Umm..yeah..I’m going to ignore your negative objectification of women and focus on the other part of your post.

    Negative objectification? I simply describe the natural male sex drive. You people who have been brainwashed by feminism, have been programmed to demonize the visual-based nature of male sexuality as something intrinsically bad or “oppressive.

    Men’s base sexual desire is to mate with genetically healthy and superior female specimens. It’s called the boner test, dear. If a female is fat, sickly, or unattractive, we will not have a sexual response to the sight or her. But if she’s fit, symmetrical, and displays visual cues of genetic health and fertility, we naturally are stimulated by the sight of this. What you call “negative objectification” is really just biologically natural, male sexuality to female display of mating suitability .

    It’s no different than you woman not wanting to have sex with fat, ugly losers or street bums. If some fat, bald, hairy old street bum where to proposition you, and you rejected him in disgust, would that be “negative objectification” or would it be a common sense action of not wanting to mate with a bad genetic prospect?

    Think about it.

    You do realize that “carintine” is a actually highly disputed. Even in supplement form. Carnitine turns into a substance called TMA in the body. The liver processes the TMA into a compound that’s linked to plaque build-up. Through research, this build up is bigger in those who consume more red meat.

    Oh really? What kind of research? I challenge you to produce any real scientific based study based on empirical evidence that red meat actually causes heart disease or any other disease. Guess what, I have done extensive research on the topic. In every instance, whenever you find any kind of article or abstract claiming red meat consumption causes disease, what you find is that such claims are based on statistical analysis, generated by epidemiological studies based on food questionnaire surveys.

    In other words, the “researchers” send out food questionnaires that ask (self-selected biased respondants) such questions as:

    How many times in the last year have you eaten hamburgers?
    a)Once a month b) Once a week c) 5 days a week d) Daily.

    How many meals per day do you eat food containing or cooked with margarine or butter?
    a)One meal a day b) Two meals a day c) Three meals a day d) Never

    How many times in the last year have you eaten foods like hot dogs?

    The researchers then take all the results from these questionnaires and come up with a statistical analysis and then compare it to the mortality rates of the respondants a decade later, and then state the conclusion that the heart disease, diabetes etc., is due to the overall consumption of red meat over a lifetime.

    It’s all bullshit.

    Doubt me if you like, but go have a look see through PubMed abstracts and articles. In EVERY case for which the conclusion ends up blaming red meat consumption (or processed meat, or saturated animal fat) for some kind of degenerative disease, it is ALWAYS based on statistical analysis of epidemiological studies.

    OF course, that’s the long answer. The short answer here is the mantra of any basic statistical analysis: CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION

    There does not exist any credible double-blind studies with control groups and carefully controlled variables that prove red meat consumption is linked to heart disease, cancer or any other diseases.

    Stearic Acid has not been proven to either be good or bad for your body. And it’s not just in red meat. It can be found in dark chocolate. Lutin, Iron, choline , B12 can be found in a wide range of veggies, grains, soy products, fish, and eggs

    Fish, eggs and many veggies are awesome. Note I make the argument for recognizing the human is an omnivorous species, of which meat is one valuable component of our diet. Yes, you can get most of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients found in meat in other foods like eggs and fish (by the way, since when was fish not considered MEAT? Try and see what color raw tuna fish is when you cut it up prior to cooking…that’s right, it’s RED.) But there are other sorts of things found almost exclusively in meat like Conjugated Linoleic Acid.

    As for the other point, you are ignoring the issue of bio-availability. Sure you can put grains or soy beans into a petri dish in a laboratory and analyze it and point out the vitamins and nutrients it contains, but what you are missing is the phytic acid, lectins and other components found in many grains that actually bind to other minerals nutrients and prevent absorption of the minerals and vitamins in the human gut. These are called “anti-nutrients.”

    Look it up. Oh and while you’re at it, you can look up the other important keyword that anti-meat propagandists never get around to really addressing: FAT SOLUBLE VITAMINS.

    I have nothing against people eating meat. I do myself, in moderation. But you can not inclusively say that all men and all women should be eating the same things and the same quantity of things.

    I never said that. What I have said is that red meat is a good food source for the Omnivorous human species.

    Some people can consume red meat, to varying degrees. Other’s can’t. I will again use my brother as an example. our family has a history of heart disease. However, when my grandfather, uncle and dad developed heart disease and passed from it, they were much older. My brother has always been a fit, active, never over-weight man, never smoked and hardly drinks. He was 34 when he had to have a double by-pass. He never had high cholestral and never had high blood pressure. He has had to consider his diet pretty seriously since at all of 34, he developed heart disease. He is a man that should not eat red meat unless he wants to be 64 and going back for another double-bypass or worse..dead. So yes, some people can eat red meat and be fine. But it’s actually not necessarily to eat read meat and get all the things your body needs. And some people really shouldn’t eat red meat at all.

    And what makes you so certain it was the red meat that clogged his arteries and afflicted him with heart disease?

    Sugar, wheat flour, and the highly inflammatory seed oils found in most processed foods are far more likely the culprit, as these things are actually proven in double-blind scientific studies to promote systemic inflammation and clog arteries.

    Note that if your brother ate a lot of fast foods, the breads of hamburger and hot dog buns are made with processed, enriched wheat flour and most likely partially-hydrogenated soybean oil (aka Margarine), and french fries are fried in soybean or canola oils that all contribute to a sever imbalance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. Oh, and lets not forget the high fructose corn syrup beverages we call “soda” that come with every fast food meal. Nah, it can’t be all of that mass produced, processed crap that causes heart disease…IT’S teh red meatz!

    • you sir, are a badass motherfucker and have done your research. you even threw in the bit about fat soluble vitamins being crucial. very well stated. fuck all this vegetarian noise. as humans, we have been designed by evolution to eat meat and plants, but mostly meat as it is much more calorically and nutrient dense.

      • In agreement with you Clark. Adding that Einstein did say, eat your vegetables, and he never said avoid meat. Of course, those nutritionally-deficient vegans think they are smarter than Einstein. Go figure.

  15. Richard Aubrey says:

    Kitti,

    Trying again:

    Kwash. Short for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwashiorkor

    You know, those starving kids with the terribly distended bellies? Body without sufficient protein consumes its own muscle tissue. When the abdominal wall–muscle–is sufficiently weakened, the viscera protude. Hence the stick-like arms and legs and the belly.

    • Theorema Egregium says:

      Of course you need protein. But there is such a thing as vegetarian protein. Tofu and chickpeas have lots of it.

      And then there’s supplements too. I am doing a little bodybuilding now and I simply am unable to eat chicken breasts and lean steaks every day. Mostly for ethical reasons. So I take whey protein, which is from a dairy waste product which would otherwise just be thrown away. It comes in unappealing plastic containers like food for very large dogs, but it does the job.

      This man became the way he is on a purely vegan diet: http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_content_width/hash/56/b5/56b50cb7a53cc34df0a8361082fc64b4.jpg I don’t think I need more.

      • One more thing: Such an outlook on meat has the stinking aroma of social conditioning, a product of too many New York sitcoms. ( Stuck on the subject? Turn off the television and get a life )

    • This anti-red meat ideology is 100% fru-fru-scammy garbage speak. But then, there are not so many vegans that think their puny diet is what everyone should be doing…. AND I SAY TO VEGANS, GO POUND SAND. Pass that plate of ribs and BBQ sauce back over please. Beef fajitas tomorrow. Burgers for lunch. Skillet steaks frequent. CLUE TO VEGANS…. It tastes good.

  16. Terry Washington says:

    Whilst I think this whole “red meat” craze is for the birds( yesterday I saw an episode of “According To Jim” where the title character played by Jim Belushi eats an entire 72 ounce steak “just to prove that I can!”), I STILL think that the odd steak never killed anyone( I am a type 2 diabetic and rarely drink and never smoke).
    Terry

    • It depends what your idea of an “odd steak” is. A steak once a year? Probably not. A steak once a month? I am not so certain. Heart disease is a leading killer in men AND women.

      • John Anderson says:

        But who wants to live forever? I’d rather have quality of life than quantity. The only thing that worries me would be paralysis after a stroke. I would if you can fix that with a DNR.

        • Well, I get that John. But it depends on what your idea of a “quality of life” is. My body feels better when I eat healthy. Even though I really enjoy a cheese burger from 5 Guys “once in awhile”. I think it depends on your age too. I’m 32. I want to live for a long time. Ask me again when I’m 62, I might want that steak more. Right now, there is a not I haven’t done yet and that means more to me at this point.

  17. Humans just don’t need much protein at all. If you crave meat, you’re craving its fat. Humans aren’t even capable of craving protein, that’s how little it matters in our diet.

  18. Richard Aubrey says:

    Okay. So there are two groups of men wrt this issue. One eats meat because they think it makes them manly, or they think other people will think them manly if they eat meat. The other group eats meat because they like it.
    Which group is larger? What shall we do about the second group?

  19. Meat Eating Omnivore Man says:

    Nutrients found in meat that you cannot find in plant foods, or if they are in plant foods, are not bioavailable, or poorly absorbed from plant foods:

    Conjugated linoleic Acid.
    Carnitine.
    Lutein.
    Choline.
    B12.
    Iron.
    Stearic Acid.

    These are essential nutrients and vital to health of both males and females.

    We are an omnivorous species, incisors in our dentistry for tearing meat, and hydrochloric acid in our bellies to digest it.

    Eating meat, especially red meat from naturally raised animals (grass fed/free range/open pastured) animals is some of the healthiest food a human being, male or female, can consume.

    meat and masculinity are intimately connected, and meat eating is also related to the oppression of women. Just as we dissect non-human animals’ bodies into cuts of meat, we dissect and fetishize women’s body parts.

    lulz!

    We want to eat meat, and fuck women. We “fetishize” women’s body parts, because men are visual creatures who’s sexual attraction is triggered by the sight of desirably proportioned female body parts that signal fertility and genetic health that would pass on to potential future offspring.

    Oh yeah, and meat is certainly tied to masculinity. Eating meat and saturated animal fats are the building blocks for testosterone. Testosterone levels in a male body influence the development of masculine genetic expression. This is why body builders who eat meat are able to build up powerful musculature – they are able to produce enough testosterone necessary to build such a body.

    • Umm..yeah..I’m going to ignore your negative objectification of women and focus on the other part of your post.

      You do realize that “carintine” is a actually highly disputed. Even in supplement form. Carnitine turns into a substance called TMA in the body. The liver processes the TMA into a compound that’s linked to plaque build-up. Through research, this build up is bigger in those who consume more red meat.

      Stearic Acid has not been proven to either be good or bad for your body. And it’s not just in red meat. It can be found in dark chocolate.

      Lutin, Iron, choline , B12 can be found in a wide range of veggies, grains, soy products, fish, and eggs

      I have nothing against people eating meat. I do myself, in moderation. But you can not inclusively say that all men and all women should be eating the same things and the same quantity of things. Some people can consume red meat, to varying degrees. Other’s can’t. I will again use my brother as an example. our family has a history of heart disease. However, when my grandfather, uncle and dad developed heart disease and passed from it, they were much older. My brother has always been a fit, active, never over-weight man, never smoked and hardly drinks. He was 34 when he had to have a double by-pass. He never had high cholestral and never had high blood pressure. He has had to consider his diet pretty seriously since at all of 34, he developed heart disease. He is a man that should not eat red meat unless he wants to be 64 and going back for another double-bypass or worse..dead. So yes, some people can eat red meat and be fine. But it’s actually not necessarily to eat read meat and get all the things your body needs. And some people really shouldn’t eat red meat at all.

  20. I think it is important not to relate diet choices with gender.

    It’s not about whether meat is healthy, or necessary for building muscles, or if it makes people fat. Melissa McEwen posted an article in her blog about how the “meat heavy paleo diet (even if it is not)” is widely seen as a diet for men in NY despite the fact that she was one of the leaders of NY meatshare.

    “Because slim young women are restricted to cupcakes, right?”

  21. Thanks for writing this piece Alex!

  22. Why do chimps hunt? Go research the answer to this question. It destroys your entire theory.

    As to this: “Studies have consistently shown that violence against animals is correlated with violence against women” — this is a classic anti-meat/anti-hunting canard. There is a vast, vast difference between the psychopathic pet abuser — who IS more likely to be an abuser, an arsonist, a serial killer, etc — versus a hunter. All the hunters I know, are the kindest, gentlest husbands and fathers around; and far from reveling in animal pain like the psycho, the hunters seek to make the swiftest, cleanest kill that they can. Ditto for the backyard livestock and poultry hobbyists who home-butcher.

    Research on psychopathic pet abusers simply doesn’t have anything to do with meat eating or hunting — they are unrelated and uncorrelated phenomena. But you’re not the first person to falsely conflate the two.

    You really need to read more about San and Hadza hunters. Also read chapter 28 of “Born to Run”.

    • Well, in all fairness, even good husbands and dads can fetishsize and disregard women for their bodies. They are not mutually exclusive traits.

      I can agree that many good men can be hunters as well and I have seen hunters give greater respect to animals.

      But, I do think there is a commodification among men and consuming meat, whether it be animal meat or female “meat”.

      My older brother just a year ago now had a double by-pass. He was 34, fit and active. He has cut out all meat from his diet. When people learn this, usually men, they say, “Oh wow, that really sucks Man.” And he respondes with, “Not really. I’m doing something really good for my body and it’s given me the oppurtunity to explore so many new foods and recipes.”

      There is something very connected to men and the idea that men eat (consume) meat and (women).

      • And none of his cardiac issues were due to genetics.

        • Absolutely, genetics totally plays it’s role. But here are some things for you to think about Richard. (By the way, you have the same name as my Dad.) Heart diesase is a leading killer in men and women in America. Even those without heart diease. Between our portions, the amount of meat in our diets, and the extremely high sodium count in food, people do not think about what their eating.

          Secondly, all the men in my family that passed from heart disease where over the age of 60 and they each led hard lives. Much harder then what my brother lived. They ran a family business that had them up before dawn and home sometimes not too long before Jay Leno was coming on. They drank. They were on the road a lot. They ate poorly. Didn’t have regular sleep schedules. Add up years of this in combination with the family genetics? Yeah, it’s not surprising they had heart disease. My brother has not lived the lifestyle any of them did. He was fit and active, didn’t sleep like they did, didn’t eat like they did. The genetics totally played it’s part, obviously. And not everyone needs to be on the sever diet he put himself on but people should be more aware of what they are eating and what it does to your body. We never would have guessed that at 34, my very active brother who mountain bikes, hikes, rollerblades, runs, plays ultimate frisbee…and so on..would have ever developed heart disease at all of 34 when the other men in our family who had heart disease didn’t develop it until later in life. Even with the family genetics. You just never know.

          I am not saying that eating meat is bad or that you can’t eat red meat. Just be aware of what you are putting in your body and what it can potenially do to you. Think about the people that love you. My Dad never got to meat my brother’s wife and see him get married. He will never walk me down the isle when (if) I get married. I wish he was still here (obviously). But he’s not. He didn’t take care of himself like he should have. And while my family had become stronger then ever, it’s just not the same without him. There is always that hole in our family where he was.

  23. Rich Shelton says:

    You’re an idiot.

    Take two pictures of males, one who has been working out and has good muscle definition and one who is skinny with and lacks muscle definition. Ask ANYONE on the street which example is more ‘manly’, or which one portrays manliness better. Odds are that 100% of (sane) respondents would choose the one with better muscle definition. One of the best methods of obtaining protein that is REQUIRED to build muscles is to eat meat (most specifically red meat). The meat has other nutrients required to build muscles and they are highly obtainable (more easily absorbed and you don’t have to eat massive amounts of meat to get what you need). Can you eat vegetables only and get your protien? You could eat soy (wait, that contains an estrogen-like substance which demotes muscle building), you could eat quinoa (wait, you would need to eat lots of this stuff and all those carbohydrates would have to go somewhere; think fat), you could eat beans (wait, you would need to mix and match all sorts of other foods and eat more; again think fat and too many calories).

  24. Of course public perception affects our food choices. People in developing nations don’t tend to eat insects, despite their historical role as a food source (the ancient Greeks and Romans sung the praises of locusts as food, for instance) and their current role in the cuisines of many developing nations. When Americans discovered that Ikea meatballs contained horse meat, they were outraged, but I doubt those meatballs tasted any different than cow-based meatballs. Based purely on their taste, ability to satiate our hunger, and nutritional value, horses and dogs could surely be as viable as any food animals (having never eaten either, I can’t say for sure, but they are considered legitimate food sources in other cultures). My point is that what we consider food is often socially constructed. While we may not consciously think, “I’ll eat this burger because it will make me more masculine,” our food choices are absolutely informed by deeply-ingrained social expectations, just as our choices about what to wear (shorts, not a skirt), what kind of bag to carry (a messenger bag, not a purse), or how to groom our body hair (for men, hair is fine almost anywhere except on the back; for women, hair below the neck is generally unacceptable) are influenced by often arbitrary norms that change from time to time and culture to culture.

    As for the charge that my sources are flawed, several people have made the same comment. I am not certain which source(s) they find to be flawed. The causes of death come from the CDC. The meat and masculinity study was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Consumer Research. The red meat/cancer study is from the Archives of Internal Medicine, published by the American Medical Association and among the most credible scholarly journals in existence. The Web M.D. article is rigorously sourced and includes references to the Lancet, JAMA, and other excellent scholarly sources. I find none of these sources to be objectionable.

  25. Have you ever considered that maybe we eat meat because we think it tastes good, and that perhaps “masculinity” isn’t a consideration when choosing what to put in our grocery baskets?

    I mean, it seems rather silly to me to ascribe something like public perception to our choice in food. We eat meat because it tastes good, fills us up, gives our body what we need, and at some points in time, it was a luxury. If you don’t eat meat. That’s fine. But why try and come to some conclusion that the rest of us are eating it for some nefarious reason or because of some advertising brainwashing?

    This article is full of references to health myths, and casual associations. So what if people consider meat masculine. That doesn’t mean that people eat meat to BE masculine. This type of essay would never even pass muster in a college writing course. There is just not enough evidence for your conclusions, and your sources are flawed.

  26. ok Alex, i see where you are finding your points, i offer this as a counter point. i eat meat out of necessity, i don’t process iron properly from vegetable matter, as a follower of a nature based faith, i offer respect and honor to any creature i consume, i’ve passed this on to my daughters ( both the inability to properly process iron and the philosophy of respect) if i don’t eat meat (ideally red meat) i die… how again is it bad for Men’s health? Violence towards animals is connected with violence toward humanity,not Just women, but farming and hunting is not an act of violence in the same sense as those studies refer…i can pronounce Quinoa, i can even cook it, as well as a quiche, a souffle, and the best damn Buffalo plantains you’ve ever tried ( seriously they went before the meat appetizers)… but for some of us .. MANY of us meat IS a necessity, you’re initial statement, i respect. yes we need to stop shaming men for being able to pronounce quinoa, but we shouldn’t be doing it by shaming men who eat steak. Much like there has been a movement to bring to light women don”t fit in a box, neither do men, and the manliest macho seeming guy you meet may turn out to be a hell of a home chef, and love his daughters enough to throw the “princess tea party of her dreams” he may also be a musician, a minister, and a participator in combat sports… i may have gotten the wrong idea from this article but it felt a whole lot like , “this stereo type is bad so we should follow THIS one” and i personally am not a stereotype, Really disappointed as i tend to really enjoy articles that aren’t afraid to challenge the “this is what a man is” ideology…

    • Revo Luzione says:

      BRB gonna fix up a steak (in lieu of popcorn).

    • John Anderson says:

      It’s been a while since I studied other cultures in social studies class in grade school and even then the information might be antiquated, but didn’t the animists believe that when you eat something, you inherited the spirit or properties of the animal you ate? So I guess if ancient man equated animal consumption with women’s bodies, wouldn’t he be saying that female attributes are the attributes he’s hoping to get?

  27. What if eating meat is actually healthy?
    I stopped reading at, ‘It is also, quite literally, bad for men’s health. The two leading causes of death among men have both been linked to red meat consumption…’

    • Revo Luzione says:

      ^^^ This guy gets it.

      “I stopped reading at, ‘It is also, quite literally, bad for men’s health…”

      I stopped one sentence before you did. My Internet Commenter Efficiency Rating just jumped to 147.222.

  28. Real men don’t comment on blogs.

    D’oh!

  29. Studies have consistently shown that violence against animals is correlated with violence against women.

    So in other words, it can’t be shown that it has any causal effect whatsoever, but we’re just going to slip it in anyway to make yet another implication about masculinity and violence with women.

    More and more I am convinced that claims such as this are about othering men.

    • I don’t think pointing out that men’s violence against non-humans correlates with their violence against women (humans who have historically been considered less-than-human) is about “othering” men. The point is that it doesn’t matter if one form of violence causes the other or not: they are connected, and they remind us of the larger issue of male violence and our social sanctions for it, one of which is the masculine imperative to kill animals for food. We can have compassion for men, and we can try to understand *why* they seem statistically to be far more violent than women, without demonizing them or framing them as others. Can’t we?

      • It’s a masculine imperative? Since when? Calling a correlation a connection is a bit of a leap, to put it mildly.

        And if we grant this – men hunted to feed people they saw as less-than-human? Why?

        I stand by my comment. People you other are not treated like individuals. They are treated as furthering some nebulous agenda. Think the gay agenda, the liberal agenda, the atheist agenda, the Islamic agenda. Think of how when nonwhites commit paedophilia, the press talks a lot more about what the *insert nonwhite ethnicity here* community is doing to stop this, like they’re all collectively responsible, in a way white people never are when a white paedophile is found.

        According to this way of thinking, a guy cannot eat a burger and just have it been seen as eating a burger. Rather, he is reinforcing patriarchy. That kind of framing doesn’t lead people to calm rational decisions, it leads them to making decisions out of fear.

        Ditto with the kind of rhetoric I was having to wade through yesterday when talking about guys riding on a train. If we can’t sit down and eat something without being seen as somehow threatening, then I have to oppose this kind of framing as something inherently dangerous for society.

      • You know what else correllates EXTREMELY well? Ice cream sales and violent crime.

        • Ah, but which gender eats more ice cream, and can we then imply that there’s some kind of gendered imperative to eat ice cream and get violent?

  30. Veronica Grace says:

    YES! I have been thinking about this for awhile. It’s such a great example of how the stereotypes we enforce on men are literally killing them.

    The interesting thing about meat = protein to me is that so many of the animals that seem to be connected to masculinity are not meat eaters. Bulls for instance.

  31. I love read meat and quinoa.
    Both delicious.

  32. John Anderson says:

    When I first started weight lifting (a masculine activity), I gained strength, some size, and muscle tone, but didn’t gain weight. A friend told me that I needed more protein. Eat some meat. It could simply be meat = protein = strength = masculinity.

    I’m not particularly health conscious although my diet is fairly balanced by choice. I’m not concerned with living forever. I’d rather enjoy the time I have.

    • @john except meat = protein isn’t exactly true. It isn’t the only or necessarily the best way for everyone to get protein.

      • John Anderson says:

        @ Marilyn

        ” It isn’t the only or necessarily the best way for everyone to get protein.”

        True, but it is a fairly pervasive thought. I didn’t actually (please don’t hate me) gain much weight until I started using dietary supplements that aren’t healthy. PEDs are another problem for weight lifters, but that’s another story.

        BTW I’m an old school weight lifter. Back in the day, it was a candy bar and milk. We used to carb load prior to working out (the candy bar) then took protein afterward to rebuild muscle (the milk). You can tell I’m not much for the Atkin’s diet. I haven’t been in a gym in over 15 years, but at close to 200 pounds now, I can carb load with the best of them. 🙂

        • N.C. Harrison says:

          When I played football, about ten or fifteen years ago, we were put on the GOMAD/squats and milk program. We ate like mad–I sometimes consumed up to 6000-7000 per day just to maintain my weight–and drank, as GOMAD suggests, a gallon of milk a day. As a strongman/power lifter my diet is still pretty wonky. I’m not good at getting all the calories I still need in a “clean” way, like a body builder does. I wish I had the recovery capacity I did at sixteen and the knowledge I do now.

    • Annalisa Castaldo says:

      John, meat does not equal protein. There’s a lot more in meat than just protein, some of it good, some of it bad. And there are lots of sources of protein that are meat (eggs, dairy, tofu, seitan, beans, heck broccoli has protein in it).

      The idea that protein = strength is also false, no matter how many weightlifters who claim otherwise. Try eating a pure protein diet for two weeks (no carbs) and see how strong you feel.

      I think the point of the article is that if we pretend that “meat=protein” is true and we pretend “protein = strength” is true, then we’re going to also pretend that a man who eats tofu is weak (and therefore less than a man). Whereas if we expose the falsity of these connections, men can eat whatever they want or think will make their lives better.

      • John Anderson says:

        @ Annalisa Castaldo

        I don’t disagree with what you say. I disagree with

        “As Carol Adams points out in her germinal book, The Sexual Politics of Meat, meat and masculinity are intimately connected, and meat eating is also related to the oppression of women. Just as we dissect non-human animals’ bodies into cuts of meat, we dissect and fetishize women’s body parts. ”

        I think it’s more simple than that. I agree that when meat = protein = strength = masculinity, men who eat tofu will not be considered manly so would be looked at as a lesser man.

        BTW my brother is 49 and on a strictly protein diet. He also uses dietary supplements. He is about my weight 190 – 200 pounds and he surprised everyone at his new gym including his kids when he started out benching 380. It may not be healthy, but there’s a reason people believe what they do.

  33. Hi Alex

    Thanks for an interesting article:)

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