Homer Simpson, the lovably self-unaware cartoon dad icon, once danced out a rhythm to the pro-meat mantra, “You don’t win friends with salad.” Bart and Marge joined in, giving tacit approval to the “meat-power-prestige” theory, while vegetarian-leaning daughter Maggie looked on, predictably dejected.
Real Men Eat Meat
At the heart of this is the age-old stereotype that “real men eat meat.” The comedy bit works because the connection between meat and masculinity, wholly embraced by Homer Simpson and countless others, stretches across time and cultures. Around the world, food—especially meat—stands out as the centerpiece for most special celebrations of community, harvest, holiday, family, religion, and power.
Given the traditionally patriarchal forces that gave rise to these rituals, it should not be surprising that a psychological link between cooked meat and machismo runs deep. There is certainly historical precedent for this cross-cultural stereotype, but is it true?