Lifestyle

Men eat more meat than women, study says

Illustration

Illustration

Psychologists have known for years that men tend to eat more meat than women. 

But now, a study of 28,000 people from around the world proves more than ever that this is true across cultures.

The study also found that the gap between the sexes is greater in the most developed countries, AP reports.

Given that meat consumption is a major driver of climate change, researchers believe that opportunities to get meat eaters to consider more climate-friendly behaviors should be looked at. 

Scientists say that gender and tendencies to eat meat are linked. 

An article published in "Nature Scientific Reports" this week shows that the difference is almost universal between cultures, and that it is even more pronounced in countries that are more developed.

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

This is important because about 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet come from animal-based food products, according to a previous study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

The researchers behind the new report think their findings could inform efforts to persuade people to eat less meat and dairy. 

Researchers asked more than 28,000 people in 23 countries, on four continents, how many different types of food they ate each day, then calculated the average consumption of land animals by gender identity in each country. 

They used the United Nations' Human Development Index, which measures health, education and living standards, to rank how "developed" each country was, and also looked at the Global Gender Gap Index, a measure of gender equality and published by the World Economic Forum. 

The researchers found that with the exception of three countries, China, India and Indonesia, gender differences in meat consumption were higher in countries with higher development and gender equality scores. 

The study did not answer the question of why men tend to eat more meat, but scientists have a few theories. One is that, evolutionarily, women may have been hormonally wired to avoid meat that may have been contaminated, affecting pregnancy, while men may have sought out meat protein given their history as hunter-gatherers in some friends.