'Men think eating meat makes them more manly'

Men believe that eating meat makes them more manly as it is deeply intertwined with their perceptions of masculinity, a new study has found.

Professor Hank Rothgerber from the Bellarmine University in Louisville said that meat eating was linked with "manhood, power and virility".

"There is a group of manly men who swear off what they call chick food, and they seek a double whopper to declare their manhood," the Daily Mail quoted Rothgerber as saying.

"Meat consumption is a symbol of patriarchy resulting from its long-held alliance with manhood, power, and virility," Rothgerber said.

In the study, men questioned said animals "just taste too good to not eat them" whereas women were more apologetic about eating meat.

The study surveyed 125 undergraduate psychology students for one study, and 89 for the second. They were all white middle class students in their late teens and early 20s. "Men expressed more favourable attitudes toward eating meat, denied animal suffering, believed that animals were lower in a hierarchy than humans, provided religious and health justifications for consuming animals, and believed that it was human destiny to eat meat," Rothberger said.

"These are direct, unapologetic strategies that embrace eating meat and justify the practice," he told NBC News.

While Rothgerber admits his study was limited, he believes there could be even more pressure to "prove manhood" by eating more meat.

Whether it is hunting for animals, flipping the barbecue burgers, past studies have shown the association between men and meat is as old as the hills.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia also found that vegetarian men are seen as wimps and less macho than those who like tucking into a steak – even by women who do not eat meat themselves.

They gave hundreds of young men and women descriptions of fictional students varying only according to diet, and asked them to rate aspects of their personalities.

The study showed that men who do not eat meat were also viewed as less masculine than the others – even by vegetarians.

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