Apparently Men Hate Vegetables, Part Sixtythousand

It’s time for my favorite absurd kyriarchal narrative: men hate vegetables! (I’m still amazed that this is a thing.)

According to a study from the Journal of Consumer Research, people tend to equate meat and masculinity. (Unfortunately I do not have access to the original study, because the universe hates me.)

In a number of experiments that looked at metaphors and certain foods, like meat and milk, the authors found that people rated meat as more masculine than vegetables. They also found that meat generated more masculine words when people discussed it, and that people viewed male meat eaters as being more masculine than non-meat eaters.

Seriously, kyriarchy, WHY? Why is this a thing?

Of course I have a theory. (I always have a theory.) Partially, it might be the whole “we hunted the mammoth to feed you” thing; meat is associated with cowboys and hunters and flesh and blood, and therefore is really really manly. In addition, I think it’s a reflection of the whole “women are supposed to be thin” thing. Many women spend much of their lives dieting, which means that they tend to eat more non-meat food, as meat tends to be rather calorie-dense. Therefore, as a counterbalance (classic oppositional sexism!), men end up eating meat and a lot of it. And then there’s the fact that men actually do have a higher caloric need than women, which is met with calorie-laden meat and then exaggerated into “men love meat! All of them! Yay meat!”

The authors of the study recommended that, to get men to eat soy burgers, they should make them look like beef and give them grill marks. Oh, is that why all my veggie burgers have grill marks? I was confused, since they aren’t actually on a grill. I just hope they don’t end up advertising soy burgers as MANLY MAN MAN BURGERS FOR MANLY MEN WE PROMISE YOUR PENIS WON’T FALL OFF IF YOU EAT IT YOU BIG STRONG CIS MAN YOU; those kind of ads are always incredibly condescending.

Personally, if we’re going to be trying to get men to like vegetarianism, I am endlessly amused by the following, from the Mother Jones article I stole the study from:

Depicted: bodybuilder dude. Caption: 7+ feet tall, 435 pounds of muscle, VEGETARIAN. Biggest bodybuilder in the world: vegetarian Dalip Singh. Now what?

About ozyfrantz

Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary. Ozy can be contacted at or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.


  1. I love onions, red peppers, jalepeno’s, tomatoes (oh, those protect my prostate)…..

    spinnach and broccolli, not so much….

    I try to eat a pound of uncooked veggies every day….

    I still love steak and grilled chicken….

    hahaha, it’s funny because in the manosphere, all the tough guys talk about the paleo diet-well sitting in front of a computer all day is not very caveman…. I’d rather increase my calorie output-hello mountainbike-than decrease my calorie intake…..

    let’s equate that to finances-an inverse relationship between debt and weight….

    I’s rather earn more money (burn more calories) than be more frugal (dieting)

  2. In today’s NFL news: Arian Foster goes vegan

    (posting from my phone, so no HTML)

    It then set off a twitter firestorm, to which Foster’s response was priceless. Foster, of course plays at the runningback position, probably one of the “harder man” positions, relying more on physical strength etc. So perhaps, especially if this season shows no significant drop off in production, this will slightly destigmatize not eating meat as being unmanly.

    Of course, the article also refers to Foster as a Renaissance Man (basically code for a guy who can’t be called unmanly but doesn’t perform masculinity properly)… One example of not performing is writing poetry (and not masculinizing it by calling it rap):

  3. pocketjacks says:

    Speaking as someone who’s had to consciously to put on muscle weight, meat is simply the easiest-to-obtain, most concentrated protein source. (Apart from supplements, but those have their own problems.)

    There are some vegetables with “manlier” reputations than others. Asparaguses and green beans, because they’re traditionally the side dish to steak and potatoes. The beefier mushroom variants. Onions and pickles with their strong, acquired flavors that children tend to not like and are therefore manly. And just from my experience, I’ve known more men who actually enjoy broccoli than women. (Women seem to prefer carrots.)

    If we want to get men eating more vegetables without reinventing the wheel, these foods are a good place to start.

  4. theLaplaceDemon says:

    My boyfriend I used to go to this burger place every week. We almost always ordered the same thing – I would get a bacon cheeseburger, he would get a burger with mushrooms, onions, and fresh tomato. More often then not, the waiter would ask us which burger went where, and we’d tell him…and then the waiter would put the one with vegetables in front of me, and the one with bacon in front of him. We got many lols.

  5. Amnesia says:

    Tell that to my vegan dad. You’ll find him at the Farmers Market.

  6. The whole vegetables = unmanly thing is perplexing from the perspective of someone who’s into fitness and browses forums related. You’ll see some of the most dedicated, strongest, ‘manly’ men reminding someone to eat their spinach and broccoli.

  7. Wait, back up, back up. Dalip Singh is NOT a vegetarian. He is NOT A VEGETARIAN. The man eats 5 whole chickens and 24 eggs a day, which is like, the opposite of vegetarian. He also most likely takes steroids.

    Also, the men who think soy burgers are unmanly are 100% right because soy contains phytoestrogens, which your body treats as estrogen, literally making you less manly. Grill marks do nothing to counteract this effect. All other vegetables are OK though. In fact, brocolli, garlic and onions have been shown to significantly increase testosterone levels.

  8. Noah Brand says:

    The gent in the photo bears the visual markers commonly associated with Marfan’s Syndrome, so that may be a factor in his stats in addition to the vegetarianism… 🙂

    • Not Marfan’s mate, acromegaly. Wait, I take it back, apparently not. But the phenotype is much more acromegaly than marfan’s.

  9. I can’t stop thinking about this topic. And I have a suggested answer as to WHY. It’s so simple: Marketing. I highly doubt food would be so gendered without it.

    A lot of people can’t talk about marketing without saying something disdainful about it, as if all ad/marketing execs do nothing but sit in a room and figure out how they can insult people or reinforce (or even introduce) tropes and stereotypes. A certain segment of the industry does work like this, but a lot of marketing is based on research. For example, Coke Zero and Dr. Pepper Ten were both born because a study conducted by a marketing agency showed that men don’t like to be seen drinking diet soda.

    The downside is, this eventually creates a societal echo chamber, where marketers research their populations while at the same time the populations are influenced by marketing messages. I think this is what happens with the meat/fruit/veggie thing. The study above showed people reacting to food as either feminine or masculine, but those ideas didn’t originate with the study subjects, they’ve been SOLD that message for decades. And then marketers take that data and spew out more gendered messaging, which will influence the participants in the next study, and so forth.

    So yes, some advertising is based on studies and research. But the patterns have been around for so long that I think it’s just as fair that the marketing people behind these ads already carry these assumptions with them. To them it’s a no-brainer to cast a male voice actor for a steakhouse and a female actor for frozen yogurt. I doubt it’s even a conscious decision most of the time.

    Hmm, there’s another interesting pattern – Sweet things are almost never marketed to men. Women and chocolate, women and dessert-flavored yogurt, women and fruit-flavored water…that’s what you see in the ads. Even fruit-flavored beverages sold to men – let’s say energy drinks – hide the fruity aspects: no fruit on the label [would certainly be there on the woman’s version], and cryptic [masculinized?] names like Monster and Amp and Red Bull [no Red Cow?]. What gives? Guys, chime in – do you like sweet food?

    • jnakabb says:

      Mmm, Mars/Moro bars and Mammoth yoghurt are marketed to men, albeit with some appalling stereotypes.

      Then again, I downed a large quantity of Cosmos at a work Poker Night last week, so maybe I don’t perform masculinity very well {;-p)

  10. CajunMick says:

    I’m not here to debate the gender of meaty to meatless meals. Although this could make me seem like a bad Buddhist, I love meat. Love it!
    My SO was perplexed why I eat my meat at the end of my meal. My reply: “I save it for last, you know, like dessert.”

  11. What about the influence of the men+cooking picture? Women bake pies and casseroles and make salads. Men GRILL. (As I type this, the article in the sidebar next to the comment box is “Choosing Cuts of Meat for the Grill or Broiler.”)

    I associate meat with masculinity. I have no idea why. Maybe because my dad makes the best ribs EVER.

    Before I moved out on my own and had to cook for myself, I was completely sickened by the idea of handling raw meat – not just for the “it’s a dead animal” factor but because of the wet squishyness, the smells, the textures. I’ve never seen a man recoil from raw meat.

    Your theory re: women dieting and avoiding calorically-dense food like meat… I wonder if this would hold true in other cultures where women don’t diet or count calories. (And when you’re talking about meat, do you only mean red meat? Because if you really want to split hairs, I equate chicken with women and beef with men. Again – NO IDEA WHY.)

    • jnakabb says:

      I prepare the red, white meat and fish for our family and pets, but seriously disliked deveining prawns (which should have been a rip-your-crustacean-guts-out He-man experience).

      I’ve also taken the fight to countless vegetables and have dealt major damage to lots of cake in my time. A kitchen and dining room warrior, that’s me !

    • There is something quite relaxing having a BBQ, at the BBQ gatherings in Australia you may find the men all standing around the BBQ, 1 is cooking, 5 others are holding a beer in 1 hand, other hand in pocket. The women would be sitting down talking too, or a few would be in the kitchen. I tried once to help the women in the kitchen once and got shooed out :S, I think they like that territory but looking back I guess it’s good time for woman talk, and man talk for the hubbies n wives. I guess steak tastes better with more onlookers?

  12. That long on his face. I guess I’d be pissed off too if I wasn’t eating any meat. I hate when people use the term “a man’s meal” when referring to steak or a burger. As a lady myself, I’ll put em down with the best.

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