|Image via AlexLeo.tumblr|
If we're talking about general perceptions, it just might.
A new study by the Journal of Consumer Research found that, when participants were asked to rate foods based on masculinity, meats tended to tip the man scale. Basically, participants thought meat eaters were more manly than their male vegetarian counterparts.
Researchers even examined languages that assign gender to words and found that, more times than not, meat words were categorized as masculine.
Does this mean that our veggie-eating brothers are lacking in the man department? Absolutely not. This study focused only on perception and, while perception is important, it doesn't always reflect reality.
For instance, vegetarian men often have greater sexual performance than meat eaters due to the lack of artery-clogging cholesterol in their diets. The documentary, Forks Over Knives, illustrated this by pointing out that erectile dysfunction is often the first sign of heart disease, which is a disease largely linked to meat and animal product consumption.
Aside from the inaccurate perception, we were not at all surprised to hear that food can have this much subtext. Food is not just food for most people. It is part of their identities. Whether it is linked to their heritage or tied into their gender identity, food is more than just sustenance. It is artistic, political, and even sexual.
Even though our feelings about food are complex, it's troubling to think that many men would rather continue putting their health at risk instead of trying a vegetarian, vegan or even limited-meat diet. That said, the need to project or associate with a the perceived-masculine practice of eating meat just might be more important to some than making a choice for improved health.
If anything, this shows that our vegetarian brethren are more daring by risking their machismo in favor of their beliefs and health. For that, we think they deserve more time in the man cave, and maybe some juicy Portabello steaks, but don't tell Ron Swanson.