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Make mine medium-rare: Men really do eat more meat than women, study says

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Make mine medium-rare: Men really do eat more meat than women, study says
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Make mine medium-rare: Men really do eat more meat than women, study says

2024-06-14 21:51 Last Updated At:22:00

CHICAGO (AP) — Vacationing in Chicago this week from Europe, Jelle den Burger and Nirusa Naguleswaran grabbed a bite at the Dog House Grill: a classic Italian beef sandwich for him, grilled cheese for her.

Both think the way their genders lined up with their food choices was no coincidence. Women, said Naguleswaran, are simply more likely to ditch meat, and to care about how their diet affects the environment and other people.

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A line cook carries a pulled pork sandwich Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

CHICAGO (AP) — Vacationing in Chicago this week from Europe, Jelle den Burger and Nirusa Naguleswaran grabbed a bite at the Dog House Grill: a classic Italian beef sandwich for him, grilled cheese for her.

A cook prepares pork rib tips, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A cook prepares pork rib tips, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A man eats a chicken wing, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A man eats a chicken wing, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A line cook places chicken wings into a bowl before serving, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A line cook places chicken wings into a bowl before serving, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A line cook slices beef brisket, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A line cook slices beef brisket, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

Chicken wings sit in a pan before frying, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

Chicken wings sit in a pan before frying, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A man eats a chicken wing, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A man eats a chicken wing, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

“I don’t want to put it in the wrong way, that male people feel attacked,” said Naguleswaran, of Netherlands, laughing. She said she used to love eating meat, but giving it up for climate reasons was more important to her. “We just have it in our nature to care about others.”

Now, scientists can say more confidently than ever that gender and meat-eating preferences are linked. A paper out in Scientific Reports this week shows that the difference is nearly universal across cultures — and that it’s even more pronounced in countries that are more developed.

Researchers already knew men in some countries ate more meat than women did. And they knew that people in wealthier countries ate more meat overall. But the latest findings suggest that when men and women have the social and financial freedom to make choices about their diets, they diverge from each other even more, with men eating more meat and women eating less.

That's important because about 20% of planet-warming global greenhouse gas emissions come from animal-based food products, according to earlier research from the University of Illinois. The researchers behind the new report think their findings could fine-tune efforts to persuade people to eat less meat and dairy.

"Anything that one could do to reduce meat consumption in men would have a greater impact, on average, than among women," said Christopher Hopwood, a professor of psychology at the University of Zurich and one of the authors of the paper. The work drew on surveys funded by Mercy for Animals, a nonprofit dedicated to ending animal agriculture. Hopwood said he is not affiliated with the organization and is not an advocate.

The researchers asked over 28,000 people in 23 countries on four continents how much of various types of food they ate every day, then calculated the average land animal consumption by gender identity in each country. They used the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures health, education and standard of living, to rank how “developed” each country was, and also looked at the Global Gender Gap Index, a scale of gender equality published by the World Economic Forum.

They found that, with three exceptions — China, India and Indonesia — gender differences in meat consumption were higher in countries with higher development and gender equality scores.

The large number and cultural diversity of people surveyed is “a real strength of this,” said Daniel Rosenfeld, a social psychologist at UCLA who studies eating behavior and moral psychology and was not involved in the study.

The study did not answer the question of why men tend to eat more meat, but scientists have some theories. One is that evolutionarily, women may have been hormonally hardwired to avoid meat that could possibly have been contaminated, affecting pregnancy, whereas men may have sought out meat proteins given their history as hunters in some societies.

But even the idea of men as hunters is intertwined with culture, Rosenfeld said. That's a good example of another theory, which is that societal norms shape gender identity from an early age and thus how people decide to fill their plates.

Rosenfeld, who said he stopped eating meat about 10 years ago, said his own experience hanging out in college “as a guy hanging out with other guy friends” illustrated the cultural pressure for men to eat meat. “If they're all eating meats and I decide not to,” he said, “it can disrupt the natural flow of social situations.”

The same cultural factors that shape gender influence how people respond to new information, said Carolyn Semmler, a professor of psychology at the University of Adelaide in Australia who also studies meat eating and social factors like gender. Semmler was not involved in this study. In some of her past work, she's studied cognitive dissonance around eating meat.

In those cases, she said women presented with information about poor animal welfare in the livestock industry were more likely to say they would reduce their meat consumption. But men tended to go the other direction, she said.

“One participant said to me, ‘I think you guys are trying to get me to eat less meat, so I’m going to eat more,’” she said.

Semmler said meat can be important to masculine identity, noting for example the popular notion of men at the grill. And she said presenting eating less meat as a moral cause can be a sensitive issue. Still, she said, people should be aware of how their food choices affect the planet.

But she and Hopwood acknowledged how difficult it is to change behavior.

“Men are a tough nut to crack,” Hopwood said.

Jose Lopez, another diner at the Dog House Grill, said he thought men should eat less meat but said that in general he has observed otherwise.

“We’re carnivores. Men eat like savages,” he said.

This story was first published on Jun. 13, 2024. It was updated on Jun. 14, 2024 to correct the name of the academic journal in which the study was published to Scientific Reports.

Follow Melina Walling on X: @MelinaWalling.

The Associated Press’ climate and environmental coverage receives financial support from multiple private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s standards for working with philanthropies, a list of supporters and funded coverage areas at AP.org.

A line cook carries a pulled pork sandwich Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A line cook carries a pulled pork sandwich Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A cook prepares pork rib tips, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A cook prepares pork rib tips, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A man eats a chicken wing, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A man eats a chicken wing, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A line cook places chicken wings into a bowl before serving, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A line cook places chicken wings into a bowl before serving, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A line cook slices beef brisket, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A line cook slices beef brisket, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

Chicken wings sit in a pan before frying, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

Chicken wings sit in a pan before frying, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A man eats a chicken wing, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A man eats a chicken wing, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that's true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (AP) — Republican vice presidential nominee JD Vance will make his first solo appearances on the campaign trail Monday, a day after the 2024 presidential race was thrown into upheaval as President Joe Biden dropped out of the race, leaving the Democratic candidate an open question.

Vance, an Ohio senator, is scheduled to hold a rally in his hometown of Middletown, followed by an evening event in Radford, Virginia, fresh off his rally debut with Donald Trump over the weekend.

Vance had been expected to eventually face Vice President Kamala Harris in a debate. But with Biden dropping out and the Democratic ticket unsettled, the senator is following Trump’s lead and focusing on attacking Biden and Harris jointly.

“President Trump and I are ready to save America, whoever’s at the top of the Democrat ticket,” Vance said Sunday in a post on X. “Bring it on.”

Trump’s campaign plans to use Vance, who became the GOP vice presidential nominee last week, in Rust Belt states that are seen as pivotal for Democrats’ path to the White House, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and places where the senator’s blue collar roots and populist views are expected to resonate.

Middletown, between Cincinnati and Dayton, is considered to be part of the Rust Belt. Using it as the location for his first solo event as the vice presidential nominee not only allows Vance to lean into his biography, which he laid out in his bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” but it gives the campaign a chance to establish a fresh groundswell in a former swing state that has been trending Republican.

While Republicans promoted a unifying message last week and decried inflammatory language in the wake of the assassination attempt against Trump, one of the first speakers to introduce Vance at the rally suggested the country may need to come to civil war if Trump loses in November.

“I believe wholeheartedly, Donald Trump and Butler County’s JD Vance are the last chance to save our country,” said George Lang, a Republican state senator. “Politically, I’m afraid if we lose this one, it’s going to take a civil war to save the country and it will be saved. It’s the greatest experiment in the history of mankind."

Vendors outside the event removed merchandise referencing Biden and added coffee mugs, T-shirts and other items that featured Vance.

Vance’s second stop is in a part of western Virginia that is considered a part of the Appalachia region. The campaign's decision to send Vance there also signals their confidence in their chances. Virginia is a state that had been a swing state but has gone for Democrats in every presidential election since 2008.

In his speech at the Republican National Convention last week introducing himself to America, Vance spoke about “forgotten communities” where “jobs were sent overseas and children were sent to war.”

The 39-year-old Republican also leaned into his relative youth, contrasting Biden’s decades in government with the milestones in his own life. It’s not clear how Vance will shift his message toward Harris, whom many Democrats were lining up to support, or any other contender for the nomination.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who is seen as a potential Democratic vice presidential candidate, made a point of criticizing Vance for the way he has portrayed Kentucky and the region.

Vance was raised by his grandparents in Middletown, which is not in Appalachia, but spent a significant amount of time traveling to Kentucky with his grandparents to visit family. The senator has said he hopes to be buried in a small mountain cemetery there.

“He ain’t from here,” Beshear told The Associated Press.

The governor took issue with Vance's portrayals in his book of people in Kentucky and eastern Kentucky and suggestions that they were lazy or not motivated to work.

“You don’t get to just come in eastern Kentucky a couple of times in the summer and then maybe for weddings and a funeral and cast judgment on us. It’s offensive,” Beshear said.

Despite his presence on the primetime debate stage and his bestselling book, Vance is still working to introduce himself to voters.

A CNN poll conducted in late June found the majority of registered voters had never heard of Vance or had no opinion of him. Just 13% of registered voters said they had a favorable opinion of Vance and 20% had an unfavorable one, according to the poll.

After Vance was named as Trump’s running mate, a startling number of Republican delegates, who are typically party insiders and activists, said they didn’t know much about the senator.

In his hometown in Ohio, though, he was welcomed as a local star.

Zetta Davidson, 73, a longtime poll worker from Fairborn, Ohio, called it “a wonderful move” for Trump to pick Vance. “I think he’s honest, straightforward, and if it’s not right, he’ll rip it apart,” she said.

A 72-year-old retiree from Middletown, Randy Linville, called Vance an “excellent choice."

“No. 1, he’s young,” Linville said. "Mr. Trump is not that old, but he’s getting up there.”

Vance has served in the Senate for less than two years. He has morphed from being a harsh Trump critic, at one point likening him to Hitler, to becoming a staunch defender of the former president, hitting the campaign trail on his behalf and even joining him at his Manhattan criminal trial this summer.

Price reported from New York. Associated Press writer Bruce Schreiner in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024

This story has been corrected to reflect that state Sen. George Lang said Butler County, not Booker County, when referring to JD Vance.

Attendees wait in line to attend a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Attendees wait in line to attend a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Police snipers stand atop Middletown High School before Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, speaks at a campaign rally, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Police snipers stand atop Middletown High School before Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, speaks at a campaign rally, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Supporters wait in line to attend a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Supporters wait in line to attend a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Members of the police department look on at a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Members of the police department look on at a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Police snipers stand atop Middletown High School as supporters arrive to attend a campaign rally with Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Police snipers stand atop Middletown High School as supporters arrive to attend a campaign rally with Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

A cardboard cutout of former first lady Melania Trump appears as supporters arrive at a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

A cardboard cutout of former first lady Melania Trump appears as supporters arrive at a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Supporters arrive at a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Supporters arrive at a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, arrives to speak at a campaign event with Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, Saturday, July 20, 2024, at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, arrives to speak at a campaign event with Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, Saturday, July 20, 2024, at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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