A recent study from Germany explores the potential of marketing to transform perceptions of plant-based foods, how it affects different gender’s perceptions of veganism, and what is the connection between masculinity, gender stereotypes, and meat consumption. The study highlights the enduring influence of gender stereotypes on dietary choices and the potential for marketing to play a role in reshaping these perceptions.

This study, titled “Masculinity and Veganism: The Effect of Linking Vegan Dishes with Masculinity on Men’s Attitudes Toward Vegan Food”, and authored by Alma Scholz from the University of Würzburg and  Jan Lenhart from the University of Bamberg, was published in October 2023 on the journal Frontiers in Communication.

The researchers recruited participants online and provided descriptions of various dishes, which included words traditionally associated with the dishes as well as those associated with “masculine” foods. Participants were then asked to rate the dishes and assess their suitability for both men and women. The participants’ identification with different forms of masculinity and their attitudes toward veganism were also assessed. 

The study concluded that women participants were more likely to follow a vegan diet and held a more favourable view of veganism compared to men. The participants who were acquainted with vegans tended to exhibit a more cheerful outlook towards meat-free dishes, but the preference for vegan dishes among men did not significantly change with the altered descriptions provided. However, the altered descriptions did succeed in altering the perception of these dishes, as they were seen as less feminine and more neutral, potentially paving the way for men to embrace them without feeling that they compromised their masculinity.

Another study published in the journal Sex Roles earlier this year found that men who identified as more masculine were associated with a lower likelihood of reducing their meat consumption or considering veganism as a philosophy to adopt.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.