A new study shows that men who consume a lot red meats such as beef, lamb and pork may feel insecure about being masculine.

Canadian researchers found that men who suffer from masculinity stress are more inclined to eat red meat in an attempt to ‘augment’ their masculinity. Red meat is commonly perceived as being more masculine.   

Masculinity stress refers to a male who worries about his masculinity, or is worried that they are not being enough. 

It’s not known why exactly red meat is perceived as masculine in some societies, although it may be seen as a way to build muscle, helping boost stereotypical male qualities like virility and sexual strength.  

Men-related language in marketing food, like Burger King advertisements that show crude sexual innuendos may be another reason. 

Previous research has found that consumption of red meat is believed by both men and women to be associated with masculine qualities such as virility and sexual strength

According to previous research, red meat intake is linked with masculine traits such as sexual strength and virility.


Masculinity stress refers to a male who worries about his masculinity, or is worried that they are not being enough.

The reason for it is a mismatch with masculine gender norms like drinking pints of beer or participating in sports.

University of Lethbridge researchers discovered that masculine stress can cause men to eat red meat, contrary to gender norms. 

The study found that high masculinity stress men have a greater belief in eating meat as it will enhance their masculinity. They are thus more likely buy red meat. 

Rhiannon McDonnell Mesler, University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, led the new study. 

She said that her results suggested that males concerned about masculinity might seek out opportunities to increase their manhood via the foods they eat.

They also indicated that affirming masculinity may serve a strengthening function, namely that it can be used to confirm one’s masculinity. This, in turn should decrease the need for red meat consumption to restore masculinity.  

According to previous research, red meat intake is linked with both masculine traits such as sexual power and mating desire.

The new study cites criticism of a 2009 Burger King advert that depicts a ‘long and juicy’ burger floating in front a woman’s parted lips – a euphemism for oral sex – with the tagline ‘It’ll blow your mind away’. 

According to the researchers, red meat consumption in men is much higher than that of women. They also examined the impact of masculinity stress on red meat intake. 

The study’s first stage involved 300 participants, all male, from Canada, the USA and UK. This included an assessment of masculinity stress and whether they were able or unwilling to buy red meat. 

The study cites criticism of a 2009 Burger King advert that depicts a 'long and juicy' burger floating in front a woman’s parted lips with the tagline 'It’ll blow your mind away'

The study cites criticism of a 2009 Burger King advert that depicts a ‘long and juicy’ burger floating in front a woman’s parted lips with the tagline ‘It’ll blow your mind away’

The study had 13 males who revealed they were vegan or vegetarian. This left a total of 287 meat-eaters. 

Questions such as “I wish that I was more interested in the same things as guys” and “I fear that women will find me less attractive, because I am not as macho than other guys” were used to determine Masculinity Stress. 

The Butcher Box, which ships packaged meats directly to your home, was next. 

Levels of masculinity stress were compared with intentions to purchase from 'The Butcher Box', which delivers meats to the home

Levels of masculinity stress were compared with intentions to purchase from ‘The Butcher Box’, which delivers meats to the home


The UK’s daily meat intake has decreased by 17% over the past 10 year, according to a 2021 survey. But, the rate of decline isn’t fast enough for the country to achieve its national target.

The study, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, revealed that most people are eating less red meat and processed meat than a decade ago.

Even though the drop is promising, data from The National Diet and Nutrition Survey which examines the eating habits of 15,000 individuals reveals that white meat consumption has increased ten-fold over a decade ago. 

Read more: Daily meat consumption in the UK is down 17% in the last decade

After a brief description of the product was given, respondents were asked: ‘How likely are you to buy a box of meat containing 8 prime cuts steaks, 24 sausages and 6 pounds lean beef?The answer was “Yes”. 

Participants also shared their beliefs on the relationship between menhood and food intake.

Some of these were:’some foods have more manly than other’;’real men consume meat’; ‘there’s some food that is just as girly’; and ‘when you eat meat, it makes you feel like a man.  

Results showed that men who are more masculine stressed were more likely believe eating meat will make them more masculine and were therefore more inclined to buy red meat. 

The next phase of the study involved 200 more male participants, all from the three same countries. They completed a questionnaire about masculinity and were informed that their responses would be validated to establish a new measurement of masculinity.  

The random assignment of respondents was to get feedback that would either confirm or disprove their masculinity. 

They were then offered the choice of four main-course items from a cafeteria menu – a meatball sub or a bacon sandwich (‘manly’ red meat choices) or a salad with chicken or a salad with tofu (non-manly choices).  

Which of these dishes would you pick from this menu? There are cultural stereotypes of 'manly' men preferring a meat dishes and women preferring a chicken or tofu salads, the study suggests

What would be your choice? The study shows that cultural stereotypes suggest that men are more likely to prefer meat dishes than women.

It was found that men who were affirmative of their masculinity decreased the chances that they would pick one of the red meats. 

Researchers believe that advertising that associates meat consumption and women may reduce the consumption of meat among men.

‘However, we would caution marketers that this could paradoxically increase females’ meat consumption, and thus not reduce consumption overall,’ they say in their paper, published in the journal Appetite.   

The research follows another study published earlier this year in the same journal, which found men like to eat more meat than women because they feel it helps ‘to enact and affirm their masculine identity’. 

A greater conformity to traditional male gender stereotypes was associated with both more frequent consumption of two types of meat – beef and chicken – and lower levels of openness to vegetarianism, it found. 

According to the NHS red meat has a high level of nutrients and vitamins. It can be part of a healthy diet. But too much will increase your chances of getting bowel cancer. 

Red meat consumption has already been linked to heart disease – the world’s biggest killer – as well as rectum cancer. 

A diet high in meat can not only be harmful to our health, but also the environment. Large-scale livestock farming destroys ecosystems and produces greenhouse gases. 


The diet is rich in protein and vitamins, including meat.

The Department of Health recommends we limit our intake of red and processed meat to 70g per day (cooked weight), which is roughly the daily average in the UK.

There is an association between bowel carcinoma and red meat, including beef and lamb. This also applies to processed meats like sausages and bacon. 

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s 2011 report Iron and Health (SACN), assessed the evidence on the relationship between bowel cancer and iron – meat is the primary source of iron.

SACN advised that eating too much red or processed meat increases your chance of getting bowel cancer.

The American Institute for Cancer Research advises we consume no more than three portions of red meat a week and urges us to ‘avoid’ processed meats.

Many preservatives made from nitrogen are used in processed meat to stop the product from escaping during transport or storage.

This preservative has been shown to cause stomach and intestinal cancers.

The pigment haem in red meat gets digested by our stomach to create N-nitroso chemicals.

The DNA of the cells in our stomachs has been damaged by these compounds, and this could lead to cancer.

This damage may cause our body to react by increasing cell division to replace the ones that have been lost.

The risk of developing cancer may be increased by this extra cell division.

Cancer Research UK states that three compounds found in meat can cause bowel cancer by damaging the cells of the stomach. 

Typ 2 diabetes has been associated with red and processed meats.

The higher amounts of saturated fat in meats may explain this.

But, in November 2019, researchers from Canada, Spain, Poland and Poland raised concerns about the eating guidelines that were adopted by global health agencies in November 2019.

They analysed the past research on how eating meat affects the health of over four million people in an important paper. 

The research, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, found no evidence that eating beef, pork and lamb could increase the rates of heart disease, cancer, stroke or type 2 diabetes – despite fears.