Meat and masculinity

For those feminist philosophers with an interest in links between vegetarianism/veganism and feminism, this article in the Journal of Consumer Research might be of interest.

The authors conclude, “To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food. Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful, like themselves, for a food they saw as weak and wimpy.”

“Is Meat Male? A Quantitative Multimethod Framework to Establish Metaphoric Relationships,” Paul Rozin, Julia M. Hormes, Myles S. Faith and Brian Wansink, Journal of Consumer Research

Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Article Stable URL:

5 thoughts on “Meat and masculinity

  1. Very interesting! Thanks for the heads-up, I enjoyed this article immensely.

  2. Here’s something (I think) interesting, which hadn’t occured to me until I read this article. Muscle meat contains a relatively high amount of tryptophan and cysteine, which in their free states tend to promote excitation and suppression of metabolism (specifically they are anti-thyroid). Similarly, under stress, cortisol liberates relatively high amounts of tryptophan and cysteine in large quantities, from muscles, for energy, excitation and the initiation of stress metabolism.

    In this way, to the body, eating a large quantity of muscle meat is similar to being under stress and promotes excitation. I’m no philosopher/sociologist, but it seems there’s a gender bias toward thinking of women as meek and calm while men are macho and action-taking.

    If that’s right, the consumption of muscle meat may contribute to this, physiologically, by the action of these aminos, which’ve hormone-like actions when liberated from their source. Increased muscle meat in the diet will tend to promote undesirable stress/excitation (machoness?). Perhaps men see meat as something which helps them fulfill their self-image of macho action taking (just hypothesizing out loud here)…would be interesting to explore this if it hasn’t been done already.

    Thanks again for this great article!!!

  3. Thanks very much for posting this–really interesting article. It would also be great if more feminists became aware of the connections between sexism and our very pronounced and pervasive speciesism.

    To an extent the inseparability of sexism, racism, classism, etc. have come to be realized, but we still seem very far from acknowledging the fact that as far as speciesism goes we’re still profoundly benighted.

  4. I don’t usually comment here as I usually don’t have much to contribute but as a vegan, an aspiring powerlifter (no it’s not like bodybuilding),a cisgendered straight man and someone with a liberal feminist outlook I feel I have something to contribute on this particular topic. I spend a lot of time reading exercise/nutritional articles in such strength communities as t-nation, elite fts and other such places because they have the best free info on strength topics.

    Sadly, the identification of meat with masculinity is massive in these places and sadly it is the traditional conception of masculinity where manliness is the opposite of being a “pussy.” Though they do have female members, sexists attitudes and homophobic attitudes are pretty rife to the extent that I don’t feel I can share the nutritional articles on facebook given some of their content.

    Conversely, though, the veganfitness site which I help run ( has surprised me by how much it differs in culture from places like t-nation despite the fact that we deal with a lot of the same subject matter. We have a large number of both female and openly LGBT members, many of whom are part of the community’s strength clique. Instances of sexism and homophobia are very rare and are never tolerated.

    I’m not quite sure why our community is so different from the likes of t-nation. Perhaps the lack of meat eating and the lack of sexism/homophobia have some common cause. I don’t know.

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