Well Being

Men Find Vegetarian Food “Wimpy;” Apparently, Health Is For Weaklings

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Manly men are apparently putting their masculinity before their health, according to a new survey in the Journal of Consumer Research, which found that many men view vegetarian and plant-based meals “wimpy,” and male vegetarians as less strong than male meat-eaters. To which I say: I dare you to tell that to known bad-asses (and vegetarians) like Peter Dinklage, Redman and Method Man, and former NFL star and mixed martial artist Herschel Walker. And also: is caring about your health just for women and wimpy dudes?

Yup, despite the fact excessive consumption of red meat has been consistently linked with heart disease and various forms of cancer, and that plenty of traditionally “manly” men have opted for a meat-free diet, the prevailing message remains that vegetarian food (like fake meats, as well as vegetables and fruits) are less masculine. From the press release:

“To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is
a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food,” the authors write.

“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.”

It seems that being a macho, macho man involves not giving a crap about the health of your heart.

Of course, good meat in small quantities is totally fine–it is rich in muscle-building protein, and, if the animal was fed properly and without GMO grain and soy, it probably doesn’t contain or utilize potentially harmful pesticides, additives, or other crud. And the researchers make a key mistake in their explanation of how to get men to rethink vegetarian food: they seem to think that soy or other highly-processed fake meat is the only alternative to eating a porterhouse the size of one’s head.

The Engine 2 Diet‘s Rip Esselstyn has been combatting the perception of plant-based eating as wimpy–which is why his terminology, “Plant Strong” is such a great message for otherwise hard-to-convince guys (particularly firefighters, some of the manliest men who also happen to be some of the least healthy) who seem rooted in this unhealthy gendered opinion of nutrient-rich food. Through speaking to firehouses and audiences across the country, Rip is doing what the researchers seem to have missed: making all kinds of health foods seem more appealing than giant steaks.

If men continue to equate meat with virility, they’re also going to continue to be plagued by heart disease, the number one killer in the United States, due to the high amounts of fat and sodium that often accompany meat products, while, like many Americans, they may miss out on the daily recommended intake of other food products. Meat and potatoes may have long been viewed as the staple foods for tough dudes, but when tough dudes are dropping dead and becoming unable to work, it may be time to rethink that’s “masculine” and what’s just plain smart.

Image via Eater