Men Eat More Meat Than Women In More Gender-Equal Countries, Study Finds

The less men have gender-defined roles, the more animals they eat


3 Minutes Read

Man looking at meat in supermarket Men eat more meat than women in most countries - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

Across cultures, men tend to eat more meat than women. But the gender difference in meat consumption is “paradoxically” even bigger in wealthier countries with more gender equality, according to a new study.

Read more: Climate ‘Gender Gap’: How Men’s Love For Meat Is Driving Up Emissions

The study, led by the University of Zurich, used data on meat consumption from 23 countries across four continents. The countries with the greatest gender gap in meat eating were Germany, Argentina, Poland, and the UK.

The differences are not because women in those countries are eating particularly less meat, but because men are eating more. According to the researchers, this could be because men in wealthier countries have more choice and financial ability to buy meat.

The findings

Gender symbols
Monster Ztudio – Having more financial freedom may lead men to choose meatier diets

People in wealthier countries tend to eat more meat because it’s more expensive. Rising incomes in developing nations has seen a rise in levels of meat consumption. But as gender roles become more equal in these countries, it’s “intuitive to expect that … gender differences in attitudes and behavior should decrease,” write the authors.

But the opposite tends to be true. Only three countries in the study did not show gender differences in meat consumption – China, India, and Indonesia. The authors suggest that this shows the gender gap is not “universal and that cultural and contextual factors may play a role.” Previous research suggests that when society de-emphasizes gender roles, masculine and feminine personality traits become more of a focus.

Read more: New Study Looks At Excuses People Use To Justify Eating Meat

Plenty of research shows that in western countries, eating meat is seen as masculine. Meat marketing and pop culture have long encouraged this idea.

However, the study also suggests that men might simply be more inclined to eat more meat, given the opportunity. This is indicated by the fact that women in wealthier countries don’t tend to eat more or less meat, even though they also have more food options and financial freedom.

Meat reduction strategies

People need to eat less meat to limit its environmental impact. The study’s findings suggest potential “society level” strategies that could be most effective in different cultural contexts.

Demand-side interventions may be most effective in countries like the UK with higher gender equality and high meat consumption. These interventions could involve marketing and other “consumer-targeted strategies,” the authors write.

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