1 in 10 Young British Men would rather Go to Prison than Stop Eating Meat
Survey finds that half of Brits think eating meat is manly and men would rather be jailed than stop, calling into question the public’s attitudes towards meat-eating
With No Meat May starting this weekend, data collection organisation OnePoll conducted a survey on behalf of the initiative, to uncover the public’s attitudes towards meat-eating, and the results are concerning…
OnePoll found that over half (51 per cent) of British men and women relate a diet that contains a lot of meat with being ‘masculine’, while vegetarian (36 per cent) and vegan (35 per cent) diets are seen as more ‘feminine’.
No Meat May is the charity campaign that’s challenging the British public to change their perceptions and eliminate meat from their diets for 31 days for health, environmental and social reasons.
More than 100,000 people are expected to take part in the 2021 campaign globally, an increase of 100 per cent on last year.
So far, 90 per cent of sign-ups are women, emphasising this major disparity between the sexes in their attitudes towards adopting a meat-free diet.
Giving up meat would make men feel less ‘masculine’
The survey found that one third (30 per cent) of men believe humans are meant to eat meat compared to less than a quarter (22 per cent) of women, and more than one in 10 men (12 per cent) said that giving up meat would make them feel less masculine.
A staggering two thirds (67 per cent) would rather reduce their life expectancy by five to 10 years than give up meat, and more than one in 20 (six per cent) also said they’d rather go to jail than stop eating meat, rising to more than one in 10 (11 per cent) for those aged 25 – 34.
While 27 per cent of men would rather give up coffee and 19 per cent would rather give up alcohol than meat, 18 per cent also said they’d stop eating meat if it improved their sexual performance and 35 per cent said they’d give it up if it improved their health.
Women more likely to give up meat but less likely to date a vegan
For females, health-related implications were given as the main reasons they would consider switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet – 38 per cent said they would stop eating meat if it improved their health, 36 per cent if it reduced their chance of developing certain cancers, and 33 per cent if they lost a stone or more in weight.
Interestingly though, women are less likely than men to date someone who is vegan – 39 per cent of women say they would prefer not to date someone who is vegan, compared to 37 per cent of men.
Young people eat meat to ‘fit in’
OnePoll’s research found that younger people are more likely to eat meat to ‘fit in’; 21 per cent of 16 – 34-year-olds said they’ve eaten meat to fit in with friends or family, compared to just eight per cent of people over 65, and 20 per cent said they’ve eaten meat to avoid appearing fussy when eating out, compared to six per cent of people over 65.
A reported lack of ‘decent’ vegetarian and vegan options on restaurant menus has also led 27 per cent of 16 – 34-year-olds to eat meat, when they may otherwise have opted for something plant-based.
The environment and future generations
Oxford University research has found that the production of meat and dairy products, even sustainable ones, are more damaging to the environment than eating a plant-based diet.
Yet although over three quarters (76 per cent) of all respondents to this study said they care about the environment, just 26 per cent said they would stop eating meat and other animal products to reduce their environmental impact. Highlighting a great divide between our values and our actions.
Over a quarter of women (28 per cent) say they would stop eating meat if it saves the lives of thousands of animals, compared to just one fifth (21 per cent) of men, although 30 per cent of both men and women agree that giving up meat would do just that.
And only 20 per cent would give up meat for the benefit of future generations to leave behind a healthier more harmonious world for their children and grandchildren.
The biggest ‘barriers’ to going vegan
The biggest reported ‘barrier’ to Brits adopting a vegan diet is that almost half (42 per cent) believe the food choices would be boring. Furthermore, one third (32 per cent) say they wouldn’t know what to eat and a quarter (26 per cent) said they wouldn’t know where to get their protein.
One fifth (20 per cent) also believe their health would decline as a result of going plant-based. And, 24 per cent of 16 – 34-year-olds say they’d feel awkward ordering in restaurants and 21 per cent say they would be concerned that friends and family wouldn’t cook for them.
More than one in 10 (13 per cent) of 16 – 34-year-olds also believe people would mock them for eating a vegan diet.
Certainly, the research shows that opinions must be changed, more education is needed and the vegan eating scene needs to continue to grow in choice.
‘It’s Quite Alarming’
Dr Shireen Kassam, founder of Plant Based Health Professionals UK, comments on the findings: “This survey highlights a real disconnect between the science and public attitudes relating to meat consumption.”
“Given that eating meat, particularly red and processed meat, is a leading risk factor for some of our commonest chronic illnesses, it is quite alarming to learn how entrenched some myths and beliefs about a vegan diet actually are. This is undoubtedly a result of decades of effective marketing and PR by the meat industry.”
“It is clear from this survey that we have to focus on changing social norms and providing effective public health messaging on the benefits of adopting a healthy plant-based diet, whilst empowering individuals and communities with the knowledge and skills necessary to make the transition.
‘Protecting The Planet IS Masculine’
Ryan Alexander, Founder, No Meat May said: “The survey has uncovered some worrying stereotypes around meat eating and how consuming a diet that’s heavy in meat products is viewed by both men and women as being masculine, despite the associated health, environmental and social concerns. We want to challenge these destructive beliefs about men and their meat. Why do we expect our boys to eat meat to be considered manly? What’s more masculine than protecting people and the planet?”
“Significant research over many years has shown that eating meat and other animal products is not only hugely damaging to the environment but can increase the risk of developing certain cancers, obesity and reduced life expectancy.”
“It’s concerning how many young men and women we surveyed said they’ve eaten meat to fit in and avoid being mocked, even though many want to cut down their meat consumption, and care about protecting the environment and saving the lives of animals. That’s where No Meat May can help.”
“Giving up meat might seem hard but it’s never been easier – there are so many brilliant plant based options out there, particularly in the UK. And when you join No Meat May, you get thousands of people from around the world cheering you on and sharing their veggie cooking discoveries. There are free cooking demos and hundreds of easy, delicious recipes to inspire you. It’s a really fun journey and a fulfilling one – for your health, your soul and your taste buds.”