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Why some men can’t eat plant-based food

Why some men can’t eat plant-based food

Plant-based burger with grill marks

You can find meat alternatives everywhere, from fast food restaurants to supermarket shelves to restaurant-grade food.

One problem: One problem? This could be a problem in an industry that is worthwhile. Estimated $A9.4 BillionGlobally, there will be significant growth in 2020. Australia’s grocery sales are also expected to grow. Up to 46%2020

Our Research in progressThis report is based upon interviews with 36 men who tried a vegan burger at a Sydney vegan restaurant. These men, who eat animal meat at least four to five times per week, did not seem to be likely to switch to plant-based alternatives.

But why? That’s the interesting part. Many of our interviewees felt strongly connected to animal meat and their masculinity. “I don’t want to end up with my friends laughing at me over a plant-based burger,” one said. Another told us plant-based burgers were “ruining [his] reputation as a man”. A third said he felt guilty choosing plant-based burgers: “I was feeling I was sacrificing my manhood, my masculinity. It’s even worse when you are kind of forced to do it as everyone around is doing it. There is no other option.”

Why are some men so strong-willed about meat alternatives?

As these are the generations, we interviewed men aged 18-40. Most likelyFlexitarianism (meat reduction) should be adopted and more plant-based foods should be included. That’s why it was surprising to see the strength of their negativity.

Two psychological responses are involved, according to us:

  • The idea of a vegan-only menu was seen by the men we interviewed as a threat to their freedom to choose. They were determined for their freedom to be restored. This is in line to the idea of Psychological reactionsThis suggests that people will react strongly to any perceived loss of freedoms

  • On the other side, the men we interviewed wanted their girlfriends and partners to be pleased with them. This is connected to impression management theory. This describes how we aim to control how others see us. Earlier researchResearch has shown that men can buy into eating bigger and more unhealthy meals to make an impression. Our interviewees had a difficult time balancing the expectations of their partner and their friends.

Plant-based burger with grill marks

Plant-based burgers are hitting the mainstream – but are they meaty enough for some men?
Shutterstock

What happens when these theories collide? These are the themes that emerge when these two theories collide:

  • We are focusing on the novelty of a vegan-friendly restaurant. One 18 year old told us: “You don’t need to be a vegan to go and try a veggie burger. Although I’m not vegan, everyone is talking about it. [these burgers]. I am not even kidding, they are so popular.” A 29 year old said: “We used to go out and eat steaks and burgers in pubs and steakhouses […]Now, we are mixing with the veggie burger eats. Strange world!”

  • Protecting masculinity through food choices A 22 year old told us: “Friends nowadays can trace you everywhere. I don’t want to end up with my friends laughing at me over a plant-based burger,” while a 19 year old said he had to “guard what [my girlfriend]I heard her say it in front my male friends. She seems smart enough to grasp the implications. We do have a vegan friend, and everybody is constantly fooling him and it’s very annoying to think that I can get in his place with my vegetarian burger”

  • Skepticism expressed about the taste of plant-based hamburgers. One 32 year old told us it was “tasteless for me […]It’s not even close to real beef. You could have it once but that’s it”

  • Concerns about the health of plant-based hamburgers. A 21-year old told us that plant-based hamburgers were no better than meat. “They are ultra-processed imitations,” he said.




Continue reading:
Diners more likely to choose a vegetarian option when 75% of the menu is meat-free – new research


Why is this important?

This new industry is a clear response. Urgent callsTo change our current Food systemsDue to the high environmental impact of animals bred to be meat-eaters, destruction of natural habitats to make more fields, and animal welfare concerns. Our health also suffers from our dependence on meat. population level. The transition to more sustainable food options begins with new alternatives to animal-sourced meat.

Excavator on forest cleared for livestock

Clearing land to raise meat animals is a major source for biodiversity and wilderness loss.
Shutterstock

Unfortunately, plant-based solutions can only help us deal with our environmental crises (climate change, extinctions wilderness loss, and pollution) if people actually prefer to eat them over animal muscle. This could include improving the ingredients in alternative products or reducing the processing to increase their health.




Continue reading:
How scientists make plant based foods taste and look more similar to meat

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Given how strongly we feel about losing our freedoms, forcing people to give up animal meat is not an option. We need to address the psychological reasons that some men have such strong attachments to animal meat.

How can we do it? Given the success of previous common-good campaigns to make tobacco use less popular, increase sunscreen usage, and provide COVID vaccinations, social marketing could be a good place to start.

Our study shows that any marketing messages intended to encourage men to adopt plant-based alternatives must be carefully tailored. These could include:

  • It is possible to describe plant-based foods as a conscious choice to improve nutrition, reduce risks to health, and improve the environment. This would likely to reduce the reaction backlash

  • Presenting new forms of male identity that are focused on food to describe a masculinity that is concerned with caring for their environment and the wilderness to make a positive impression.

Even for those who are reluctant or avoidant eaters of plants, the sector’s strength is still to be expected. $3 billion for the Australian economyBy 2030

Just imagine if we could bring everyone along – even self-described carnivores.

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