Nutrition

Make mine unusual: Men eat more meat than women, study says

While vacationing in Chicago this week from Europe, Jelle den Burger and Nirusa Naguleswaran grabbed a bite at the Dog House Grill: a classic Italian beef sandwich for him, grilled cheese for him. (Also Read | Preventive measures for women to reduce the risk of heart disease, improve the outcome of the disease)

A line cook puts chicken wings in a bowl before serving at a Cincinnati steakhouse. (AP)

They both think that the way their husbands followed their food choices was no coincidence. According to Naguleswaran, women are more likely to give up meat, and care about how their food affects the environment and other people.

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“I don’t want to put it in the wrong way, so that men feel attacked,” said Naguleswaran of the Netherlands, laughing. He said he used to like to eat meat, but giving it up because of the weather is important to him. “It is in our nature to care for others.”

Now, scientists can say with more confidence than ever that sexual desires and eating meat are related. A paper appearing in Nature Scientific Reports this week shows that the difference is almost universal in all cultures – and that it is even more pronounced in more developed countries.

Researchers already knew that men in some countries eat more meat than women. And they knew that people in rich countries eat more meat in general. But recent research suggests that when men and women have social and financial freedom to choose their own food, they are more diverse, with men eating more meat and women less eat less.

That’s important because about 20% of global warming gases come from animal-based food products, according to earlier research from the University of Illinois. The researchers behind the new report think their findings could improve efforts to encourage people to eat less meat and dairy.

“Anything that one can do to reduce meat consumption in men can have a greater impact, on average, than in women,” said Christopher Hopwood, professor of education. of psychology at the University of Zurich and one of the authors of the paper. This work is based on research funded by Mercy for Animals, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending animal agriculture. Hopwood said he is not affiliated with the organization and is not a spokesperson.

Researchers asked more than 28,000 people in 23 countries on four continents how much of a variety of foods they ate each day, and then calculated the average amount of animal food consumed per with gender identity in each country. They used the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures health, education and living standards, to rank how “developed” each country is, and they also looked at the Global Gender Gap Index, a measure of gender equality published by the World Economic Forum. .

They found that, with three exceptions – China, India and Indonesia – the gender gap in meat consumption was higher in countries with higher levels of development and gender equality.

The large number and cultural diversity of the people surveyed is “the real strength of this,” said Daniel Rosenfeld, a social psychologist at UCLA who studies eating behavior and behavioral psychology and was not join the study.

The study did not answer the question of why men tend to eat more meat, but scientists have theories. One is that by evolution, women may be hormonally hardwired to avoid potentially contaminated meat, which affects pregnancy, while men may seek protein. meat because of their history as hunters in other nations.

But the fact that men are hunters also has to do with culture, Rosenfeld said. That’s a good example of another theory, which is that societal norms shape gender identity from a young age, so people decide to fill their plates.

Rosenfeld, who said he stopped eating meat about 10 years ago, said his experience spending some time in college “as a guy who had and other young men’s friends” shows the cultural pressure for men to eat meat. He said: “If they all eat meat and I decide not to eat it, that would destroy the natural course of society.”

The same cultural factors that influence gender influence how people respond to new information, said Carolyn Semmler, a psychology professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia who also studies eating habits and social context. such as gender. Semmler was not involved in this study. In one of his past jobs, he learned not to eat meat.

In those cases, he said that mothers who are given advice about the needs of the economy in the economic activities, there is a possibility that they will reduce their meat consumption. But the men were inclined to go in another direction, he said.

“Someone said to me, ‘I think you guys are trying to get me to eat less meat, so I’ll eat more,'” he said.

Semmler said meat can be important to men, noting for example the popular feelings of men around food. And he said that introducing eating less meat as a moral reason could be a serious matter. However, he said, people should be aware of how their food choices affect the world.

But he and Hopwood agreed on how hard it is to change behavior.

“Men are a tough nut to crack,” Hopwood said.

Jose Lopez, a chef at Dog House Grill, said he thinks men should eat less meat, but he said he’s generally noticed the opposite.

“We are carnivores. Men eat like bastards,” he said.

This story was republished from the website without editorial changes.

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