Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Is Meat Male?

Looks that way. But I wouldn't broach the topic with former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.

First, a study due out in October in the Journal of Consumer Research:

You Are What You Eat: Why Do Male Consumers Avoid Vegetarian Options?, Press Release, Journal of Consumer Research, 16 May 2012

  • There was a strong connection between eating meat — especially muscle meat, like steak — and masculinity.
  • That people rated meat as more masculine than vegetables.
  • That people viewed male meat eaters as being more masculine than non-meat eaters.
  • That across most languages (23 analyzed), meat was related to the male gender.
The authors (one author, Brian Wansink, is author of the popular book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think) write:
"To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food. Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy."

Mike Tyson's take on not eating meat? "I wish I was born this way."
Here's a clip from an interview he did at his home in Arizona last year. (Who knew Tyson was a bird man?)
Greta Van Susteren of FOX News: How long you been a vegan?
Tyson: Two years.

Van Susteren: Notice any difference?
Tyson: I feel awesome. Feel awesome.

Van Susteren: Mentally feel any different with vegan?
Tyson: Incredible. Incredible. I wish I was born this way. Just when you find out about the processed stuff you've been eating. I wonder why I was crazy all those years.

And a clip from an interview he did with Details Magazine in August 2010:
Details: I hear you're vegan now.
Mike Tyson: Yeah, it's been eight months with this vegan stuff, but I get these explosions of energy. I don't know how long they last, but they're like explosions. So powerful.

Details: Is it a calmer energy?
Mike Tyson: Oh, I don't know if I'd go that far. I don't think it's been long enough for that kind of Zen shit.

Details: So you're going to go the rest of your life without eating a candy bar?
Mike Tyson: Maybe so. I'm pretty fucking extreme.

Details: Not even a Baby Ruth?
Mike Tyson: Oh, man, that's the best. Chocolate and peanuts. Nah. I ate, like, the tiniest piece of meat, and I woke up violently sick. It was vicious pain. I was throwing up. And I realized meat's become a poison for me now.

The Details interview is engaging. I don't have a great interest in boxing but the bits about fellow boxers, especially Jack Dempsy and Muhammad Ali, were something else.


Angela and Melinda said...

OMG, the Tyson interview is PRICELESS!!! ROTFLMAO!!!!

Bix said...

The interview in Details Mag is priceless, for sure.

I don't mean to glorify anything about his past by mentioning him. He looks to be making efforts.

I liked this bit in Details:

Details: So if boxing is the art of taking rage and terror and disciplining them into assets, then...
Mike Tyson: There's no rage and terror in boxing. If there is, they're counting to 10 over you.

Details: But if...
Mike Tyson: No buts. Eight, nine, 10."

caulfieldkid said...

I think the correlation between Tyson and the topic makes sense. I've thought about this issue before and tried to speculate the "why." I think one issue might be aggression. Meat eating is subconsciously aggressive maybe (killing is at its root)? Tyson being a vegan would seem in juxtaposition.

I've thought it might have something to do with hunter/gatherer days? Killing to provide for the family validated the males position.

In some senses it might be considered opulent, especially in the past or third world countries. So it might be a way of posturing.

I'm just throwing stuff out here. I really have no basis for any of these ideas.

It's a good question.


Bix said...

I definitely have the meat/male prejudice. Not that I act on it, but I feel it. When I think of women doing the hunting and men doing the gathering, it doesn't fit.

Philippa said...

My theory is that more recently than our hunter-gatherer days, humans have been hungry more often than not. Women have tended to feed their men the biggest (or entire) piece of meat in times of food shortage, often eating more veg & grains themselves. Over time, that may have led to a gender divide in the way we gravitate to meat or vegetarianism respectively.