Researchers with the University of Hawaii have used crowdsourcing to raise funds for research into why men believe eating meat makes them more masculine.
“Many men would gladly embrace the health risks associated with red meat rather than taking the slightest risk of being associated with the feminine attributes of a vegetarian diet,” said lead researcher Attila Pohlmann on the online science funding site called Experiment.
“It is well documented that many chronic and fatal diseases can be prevented by reducing the consumption of red meat and processed meats,” he says in an online article seeking support for the research.
The researchers want to better understand the psychology behind why masculine people value meat dishes and how best to market more healthy alternatives.
They also plan to measure the biological and psychological processes that motivate meat preferences.
Threats to their masculinity makes men anxious. “We want to find out whether the stress triggered by a threat to masculinity during a meal persists, if not a meat dish, but a vegetarian alternative is served up instead,” the article says.
“Taken together, the results will eventually allow us to tell a more complete story of the processes that motivate meat consumption and to develop interventions that enable highly masculine persons to overcome the behavioural obstacles to healthy diets.”
The findings might be useful for marketers trying to position meatless products with consumers.
Pohlmann said in the article that his scientific curiosity was piqued by people’s reaction to his own food choices.
“I stumbled into a meatless diet by complete accident without having pondered any moral reasons or health benefits beforehand. Perhaps because I was clueless, I was so intrigued by other people’s unexpectedly strong reactions to my dietary situation,” he said.
The crowdsourcing fundraiser exceeded his fundraising goal.