• SumoMe

A recent consumer study concluded that men associate meat with manliness.

Move over nail polish for men, step aside Ikea man-daycare, and get lost insurgence of electronics; the real threat to manliness is here: vegetables. Yes, you read correctly. That naturally unnatural green plague that flows forth from the ground serves no purpose but to steal your manliness away from you.

Well, all this according to a recent study. The Journal of Consumer Research found that consumers are influenced by a strong association of meat with masculinity. That, in and of itself, is not an entirely new realization. What’s interesting about the study is that participants not only viewed vegetarians as less manly than their carnivorous macho counterparts.

Additionally, meat generated more masculine words when people discussed it. While most of the studies took place in the United States and Britain, the authors also analyzed 23 languages that use gendered pronouns. They discovered that across most languages, meat was related to the male gender.

“To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food,” the authors write. “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.”

If marketers or health advocates want to counteract such powerful associations, they need to address the metaphors that shape consumer attitudes, the authors explain. For example, an education campaign that urges people to eat more soy or vegetables would be a tough sell, but reshaping soy burgers to make them resemble beef or giving them grill marks might help cautious men make the transition.

So basically men are dumb, and advertisers should trick us into eating things that look like meat but really aren’t? Pink slime anyone? I agree that an education campaign would be a tough sell, because nobody wants to sit through a class about the benefits of eating soy. I’d rather roll around in a sack full of thumbtacks.

So, my solution? Let’s go all Clockwork Orange on carnivores and force them to watch cartoons of Popeye the spinach-destroyer on repeat.

No, but seriously, the way to go about this is to tout the benefits of growing your own food and eating freshly-grown produce that you put your own sweat into. Nurturing something from seed to plate is a surefire way to get men to appreciate vegetables because it will both force them to attach emotional significance to the tomatoes they grew (and possibly, later on, tomatoes others grew) as well as give them a manly activity to focus on like agriculture.

Marketers: don’t trick us by hiding vegetables in our meat and saying “A-ha! You just ate vegetables!” That’s what I do to get my cat to take his flea medication. If men aren’t already eating vegetables for the sake of eating vegetables, make them interesting–not invisible.

What do you think? Are vegetables unmanly? Let’s teach these researchers a thing or two in the comments below.