Men on average eat considerably more meat than women. Together with consumer sociologist Hans Dagevos, tries to find out why.

The Food Consumption Survey shows that in the Netherlands we eat an average of 98 grams of meat and meat products per day. However, the new Disk of Five from the Netherlands Nutrition Center recommends consuming around 70 grams of meat and meat products every day.

With 115 grams per day, the average Dutch man easily surpasses this. For comparison: Dutch women eat an average of 81 grams of meat and meat products per day.

"On the one hand, men naturally eat more than women. They need more calories. In general, 2,500 calories, compared to 2,000 calories for women," says Dagevos, consumption sociologist at Wageningen University & Research.

We eat so much meat (products) every day:

  • Men and women: 98 grams
  • Men: 115 grams
  • Women: 81 grams
  • Recommended: 71 grams

Nevertheless, the difference in meat consumption can only be explained to a small extent. "Older men are especially overrepresented among the hardened meat eaters and people who consume a lot of meat," said Dagevos.

Conversely, women are over-represented in the flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans group. "The cliché image of the meat-loving man and the meat-reducing woman therefore remains intact," said Dagevos.

The Netherlands Nutrition Center launched a campaign A few years ago with the campaign More than meat , an attempt was made to let men eat less meat. "A campaign with a wink," says Dagevos. He emphasizes that not all men eat a lot of meat. "There are enough men who rightly don't feel at all appealed."

Meat is at the top of the food chain

But how come men apparently find it difficult to leave their piece of meat? "There are sounds that it is something evolutionary. Men are hunters and women gatherers," says Dagevos.

However, he himself does not find it such a strong argument. "We do not eat meat frequently until about fifty. And until not so long ago it was a luxury product that most people could not pay every day."

"If you let people choose from vegetable and animal products, many men give hamburgers and steak the highest status." Hans Dagevos, consumption sociologist

In a Canadian study, participants - mostly men in this case - informed that they would continue to eat a lot of meat because it was found to be male and because they felt that meat was needed to keep their bodies strong.

Meat appears to be at the top of the food chain, especially among men. "If you let people choose from all sorts of vegetable and animal products, many men give animal products the highest status. Think of hamburgers, steak and roast chicken."

Women are more likely to opt for other products such as chocolate, fruits and nuts. This is also how flexitarians think about it. "With them, many more products of vegetable origin are placed higher in the hierarchy than with the hardened carnivore."

Meat is associated with masculinity. (Photo: 123RF)

We associate meat with masculinity, meat substitutes with femininity

In short, we associate meat with male. Think of the man with the leather apron at the barbecue. "We find vegetables and also meat substitutes more feminine," explains Dagevos. "At first glance, many people may find this strange, but it remains, however subconsciously, rather stubbornly playing a role."

"Meat is quite unique in that. The only product that comes a bit close is beer. Non-alcoholic beer was barely drunk by men for years. This is now slowly changing."

Does that possibly also happen with meat and meat substitutes? "That could be," says Dagevos. "To start with, because meat substitutes keep getting better and also because vegetarian-eating tough men like Lewis Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger can help."

"Two track cyclists recently won the six-day race of Ghent on a vegetarian diet," he continues. "But at the same time it is also true that total meat consumption in the Netherlands has even increased slightly this year."