The 12-month study from the University of Southampton – called Man Food – shows that even men who dislike meat or should avoid it for health reasons, will order it to avoid ridicule.
The research found that men experience ‘social isolation’ among their peers when they admit to reducing or cutting out meat – whatever the reason.
“We found that even men who don’t like meat, men who find it upsets their digestion, or have been asked by the doctor to eat less meat, still find it hard to choose the vegetarian option in public around other men,” said Emma Roe – Associate Professor in Human Geography at the University of Southampton and Lead Researcher.
This is even the case for men who want to reduce their meat intake in a bid to help the planet, according to Roe. “We held a discussion group with eight men who identified as ‘green men’’ and found that even these men still want to eat meat, particularly around their male friends,” she added.
Change is happening
But change is possible, she said – as vegan and vegetarian food becomes more ‘normalized’, men will feel they can eat it without stigma.
She said: “What we have discovered is that many men are interested in eating less meat, they just need social permission to do so – and as more and men make vegan choices, that permission is becoming more readily available.”
In fact, Roe says more than 25 percent of men are actively reducing their meat intake – which ties in with a recent survey showing that 28 percent of Brits identify as flexitarians.
She added: “Some men told us that they experienced social isolation amongst groups of men after reducing their consumption of animal protein, and we found they valued socializing together as men and eating vegetarian and vegan food as a way of ‘normalizing’ their choice.”