The researchers examined the link between meat and masculinity in different ethnic groups in The Netherlands and found significant meat-related gender differences between second generation Chinese Dutch, Turkish Dutch and native Dutch.
“The findings suggest that the combination of traditional framings of masculinity and the Western type of food environment where meat is abundant and cheap is bound to seriously hamper a transition to a less meat-based diet,” the researchers wrote.
“In contrast, less traditional framings of masculinity seem to contribute to more healthy food preferences with respect to meat.”
They found that cultural factors related to gender and ethnicity were sometimes harmful and sometimes beneficial for achieving sustainability and health goals.
The study’s authors interviewed 1057 men and women aged 18-35 about their dietary habits and attitudes. They said Turkish migrants were the largest minority cultural group in the Netherlands and Chinese migrants were forecast to become the largest minority group in the future.
The Turkish group was found to have the largest meat-related gender difference, the strongest meat-masculinity link, and the least willingness to reduce consumption, while the native Dutch group had the smallest gender difference and weakest cultural link between meat and masculinity. The Chinese group fell in the middle.
The researchers also noted that the Turkish group used few meat replacers, but suggested this could be due to traditional meal formats, which already tended to include vegetarian dishes with lentils and chickpeas, while traditional Dutch meals tended to centre on a protein component – usually meat – served with a staple and vegetables.
The Chinese attitude to meat alternatives is different again, in that many protein sources that native Dutch may think of as meat replacers – such as tofu, seitan and tempeh – have long been part of Chinese cuisine.
“As traditional masculinity is related to ethnic group, one option that policy-makers may consider is to pay more attention to those elements of the food cultures of ethnic groups that are advantageous from the perspective of sustainability and health,” the researchers wrote. “…The Chinese and Turkish cuisine already include foods that may be considered meat substitutes due to their protein content.”
Vol. 89, pp. 152-159 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.02.013
“Meat and masculinity among young Chinese, Turkish and Dutch adults in the Netherlands”
Authors: Hanna Schösler, Joop de Boer, Jan J. Boersema, Harry Aiking