What Is More Important: Perception of Masculinity or Personal Health and the Environment?

What Is More Important: Perception of Masculinity or Personal Health and the Environment?

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4757-0.ch010
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The unnecessary question what a man is without his masculinity, is deeply ingrained into the socially established norms of strength, power, virility and machoism. Although the traditional male masculinity stereotype and its association with meat consumption are still undisputable for many “real” men, there is indication about a shift toward a new modern evolutionary masculinity which reflects more sustainability values. The chapter explores this based on a survey of Sydney men. It reveals the influence of new factors, such as environmental, health and animal welfare concerns, which shape the concept of the masculine. Meat-eating men will experience increasing pressure to defend their traditional masculinity. The Sydney study also explores the factors likely to influence Australian men to replace a meat-centred diet with more plant-based alternatives.
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Meat And Manliness

Meat, and especially red meat, is an archetypical masculine food (van den Wijngaard, 1997) embedded in the western construction of masculinity (De Boer, 2006; Rothgerber, 2012; Rozin et al., 2012). The contemporary male meat consumption behaviour is equated and effectively wrapped under the pretext of traditional masculinity traits aimed at positioning men at the top of the social and animal hierarchy. Historically a scarce resource attributable to the privileged rich as a means of demonstrating authority and wealth, meat has become a highly palatable food associated with strength, virility, blood, masculinity and tangibly represents human power over the rest of the natural world (Fiddes, 1991; Kubberød et al., 2002; Stibbe, 2004; Ruby & Heine, 2011). The deeply believed link between meat and masculinity is traced back to ancient times with Aristotle stating: “other animals exist for the sake of man” (in Fiddes, 1994, p. 276). In the 1840s meat gained a scientific status with the popularised ‘protein myth’ and the notion that animal food is more nutritious than plants as it can replenish muscular strength (Fiddes, 1994).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Vegetarian: Related to a person or diet that voluntary excludes meat and meat-based products.

Health Consciousness: Behaviour and attitude which considers health considerations in a person’s diet or lifestyle.

Vegan: Related to a person, diet and lifestyle that voluntary excludes animal-based products.

Manliness: A set of traits, abilities, attributes and qualities which characterise the male human species.

Masculinity: Manifestation of manliness.

Macho: A man who is explicitly proud of his masculinity.

Animal Welfare: Consideration about the conditions in which animals live.

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