‘No salad for me! Real men eat meat!’
It is crude gender assumptions such as these which pepper the media in western society that The Eating Better Alliance is hoping you can help it overcome. The organisation will call on the marketing industry at The Drum’s Plan it Day and Do it Day events to thrash out creative ways to get men to eat less meat to ensure a greener and healthier future for everyone.
According to recent research published by Oxford University Press, the reason why men are less likely than women to embrace environmentally friendly behaviours such as eating less meat stems from a prevalent association between green behaviour and femininity. The study found that such stereotypes may cause men to avoid green behaviours to preserve their macho image.
While the health benefits of eating less meat – and red meat in particular – are fairly well documented, the impact on the environment caused by meat production is less well-known. Meat production is projected to double by 2020 due to increased global consumption and population growth, something that will have a major consequence on the global environment.
By cutting down on meat consumption, food-related emissions would fall by nearly a third by 2050, a study by Oxford Martin School found, while widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63 per cent.
Sue Dibb, co-ordinator of the Eating Better Alliance, explains to The Drum why it wants to target men in its latest campaign and how the marketing industry can help.
“All the research shows that men are more resistant to the idea of eating less meat. There are all kinds of reasons for that. Culturally, traditionally, meat is associated with masculinity. We know that is kind of made up but it’s those cultural significances as well as our eating habits that can act as barriers to change. If you look at consumption stats, men eat more meat and they tend to eat more red meat than women.
“What we want to do with this project is get those creative brains to help us work out the best ways to firstly raise awareness and secondly how to [change eating habits] without getting people’s backs up. We know that finger wagging and saying ‘don’t do this’ is not the way to do it. How do we make this appealing, aspirational, and how do we make it sexy?”
Research carried out by the alliance, which is made up of 51 different charities and organisations, including Greenpeace and WWF, found that 41 per cent of women said they were willing to eat less meat compared to 30 per cent of men. Furthermore, 60 per cent of men exceed the recommended amount of red meat each week compared to 25 per cent of women.
When it presents this challenge to the marketing industry at Plan It Day next week, The Eating Better Alliance is open to ideas around how to approach the brief and is hoping to use these to generate further change going forward.
“We aren’t wanting to narrow it down and say this is what [we] expect because we want to open up thinking beyond our own,” adds Dibb. Some of the things that we have done so far to test the water is a ‘meat free lunch’ campaign, so one suggestion might be to focus on a meal occasion. However, we don’t want to limit thinking of how best to do it. What we would really like to do is to see the Do it Day initiative not only generate some great ideas, one of which will be delivered on the day, but also use that to raise awareness in the media.”
Think you've got what it takes to work on the Eating Better Alliance's challenge? Then sign up for Plan It Day here and help The Drum prove that marketing can change the world.