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As Women Gain More Equality, Men Eat More Meat
  • Posted June 13, 2024

As Women Gain More Equality, Men Eat More Meat

In countries where gender equality is becoming more of a reality, men's meat consumption tends to rise relative to women's, a new study shows.

The phenomenon was seen mainly in richer countries in North America and Europe, and was not seen at all in large but less affluent China, India and Indonesia.

Why? Researchers believe it's due to men in wealthier, more gender-equal nations having more control over their meal choices -- and choosing meat more often.

The trend is "more likely to be driven by more extensive meat consumption among men in developed countries, in which greater wealth creates more opportunities for men to choose meat, than by lower meat consumption among women," the researchers concluded.

The study was led by Christopher Hopwood, a professor of psychology at the University of Zurich, in Switzerland. It was published June 13 in the journal Scientific Reports.

The researchers started off with one longstanding statistic: Almost everywhere, men tend to eat more meat than women.

But would that carnivore gender gap close once women made gains in equality with respect to men?

To find out, Hopwood's team looked at survey data collected in 2021 from almost 21,000 people from 23 countries in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Participants reported their gender and how frequently they ate meat.

As expected, in most countries (with the exception of China, India and Indonesia), men ate more meat than women. And as average income levels in a country rose, so did the frequency with which both sexes chowed down on meat.

That makes sense, Hopwood's team said, since meat is much more expensive to produce and buy compared to plant-based fare.

But the surprising finding arose in regards to gender equality: The gap in meat consumption between men and women widened as the sexes gained parity, the study found.

The bottom line, according to the researchers, is that men and women in wealthier countries with better gender parity may tend to follow their inclinations to eat more or less meat.

The trend seems to "have more to do with men’s consumption behavior than women’s," Hopwood and colleagues noted.

The study was funded by the nonprofit Mercy for Animals group, which seeks to end animal agriculture. Based on the new findings, Hopwood's team believe that any efforts to lower meat consumption may want to consider gender and gender identity, and "focus on meat reduction among men."

More information

Find out more about the benefits of a plant-based diet at the American Heart Association.

SOURCE: Scientific Reports, news release, June 13, 2024

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