Men consume more meat than women in wealthier, gender-equal nations

In wealthier countries with greater gender equality, men are more likely to eat meat more frequently than women, a new study reveals. The research team, led by the University of Zurich, examined the meat consumption patterns of more than 20,000 people from 23 countries. The findings could inform strategies for promoting plant-based and cultured meat as viable alternatives to traditional meat consumption.

Men tend to eat meat more frequently than women and people in wealthier countries tend to eat more meat than people in poorer countries. Paradoxically, gender differences in meat consumption are greater in countries with higher levels of gender equality and social and economic development, according to a study led by the University of Zurich (UZH). The authors suggest that this may be because individuals in these countries have greater opportunities to express their food preferences.

Gender differences in meat consumption strongest in Germany, Argentina, Poland and UK

Christopher Hopwood, professor of psychology at the University of Zurich, and colleagues examined differences in meat consumption between men and women in countries with different levels of social and economic development - as measured by life expectancy, years of schooling, and gross national income - and gender equality - as measured by economic participation, educational attainment, political empowerment, and health and survival. They analyzed survey data collected in 2021 from 20,802 participants from 23 countries in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Participants reported their gender and how often they ate meat.

Except for China, India and Indonesia, men tended to eat more meat than women. The differences in meat consumption between men and women tended to be greater in countries with higher levels of gender equality and social and economic development, with the largest differences observed in Germany, Argentina, Poland and the United Kingdom."

Christopher Hopwood, lead author

Incentives for plant-based and cultured meat may be most effective in developed countries

"Higher levels of gender equality and development may give women greater freedom to choose to eat meat less often and may also allow men to purchase and eat meat more often," concludes Hopwood.

The findings suggest that different strategies may be needed to promote reduced meat consumption in different contexts. The authors speculate that providing consumers with greater opportunities to consume plant-based meat alternatives or cultured (lab-grown) meat may be more effective in countries with higher levels of development, while providing incentives to produce plant-based meat alternatives or cultured meat may be more effective in countries with lower levels of development.

Source:
Journal reference:

Hopwood, C. J., et al. (2024). Paradoxical gender effects in meat consumption across cultures. Scientific Reports. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-62511-3.

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