Some men see plant-based meat as a challenge to their manhood. They say they won’t bite.
New, bite-sized research (the study had 36 participants) from Australia examined the attitudes of men aged 18-40 toward plant-based meat and found the men had an overwhelmingly negative response to meat alternatives. The participants mostly agreed, in various ways, that the plant-based burgers they ate at vegan restaurants somehow clashed with their manhood, according to the study authors in The Conversation. One stated, somewhat frantically, that “plant-based burgers were ‘ruining [his] reputation as a man.’” What drama. As silly as the findings may seem to some, the cash pouring in from plant-based meat alternatives is serious—with projections that sales will add $3 billion to the Aussie economy by 2030. Researchers say the men’s negative reactions were likely triggered by two psychological responses: reactance or the perception that one’s freedoms are being eroded, and impression management theory, which describes how people attempt to control how others view them. In some cases, men felt they had to juggle how their romantic partners and friends interpreted their eating choices—and wanted to impress dates who had taken them to the restaurant. Who knew fake meat could be so threatening? —Safiya Charles