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Red meat helps awaken male sexual desire, achieve personal goals

New research examining links between meat and social status has revealed that motivation for status, wealth and a mating partner makes men more likely to choose meat-based dishes.

Monash Business School senior marketing lecturer Dr Eugene Chan and University of Technology associate professor Natalina Zlatevska undertook a “proactive study”, surveying 1,600 participants from Australia, the US and the UK. The research, published in the Food Quality and Preference Journal, surmised that “the humble cut of red meat” may be more than just a good source of iron for one’s diet.

“In human evolutionary history, meat was both rare and difficult to prepare. Meat-eating not only provided strength to consumers but conveyed the status and wealth of men to women, which increased their mating desirability,” the researchers noted in a statement.

“Sexual and mating desires are fundamental to all of humankind’s existence. As such, our search for a mate is so fundamental in the evolutionary psyche that it might shape food decisions also – so long as they are relevant in attaining mating goals,” Dr Chan said.

“The link between meat and status is grounded in evolutionary drivers of consumption. Cavemen consumed meat in order to be strong, healthy and powerful enough to survive the harsh environment. Royalty and the nobility also consumed meat because it signified wealth,” added associate professor Zlatevska.

The study – titled Is meat sexy? Meat preference as a function of the sexual motivation system – was underpinned by three separate behavioural projects, which purported to find a nexus between meat consumption and sexual motivation.

The first study monitored food choices of 268 undergraduate university students in Australia after being exposed to images of attractive men and women, which found that – when given the choice of either beef or vegan jerky after seeing the images, over 86 per cent of men chose beef compared to only 54 per cent of women.

The second study saw 878 Americans subjected to different types of sexual motivation manipulation for five minutes, which showed that those presented with a hypothetical scenario of a romantic evening with a prospective sexual partner are more likely to choose a beef burger compared to those presented with a hypothetical “fun night out” with a friend.

And the third study found that, in 489 subjects from the UK, beef and pork consumption enhanced men’s sexual condition, while vegan options were “overwhelmingly rejected”.

According to Dr Chan, the findings have practical implications not just for health research but also for marketers and advertisers in the food industry.

“Sexual stimuli are abundant in modern society. We can’t avoid such stimuli or imagery when leaving the home or watching our favourite programs on television or online,” he said.

“If exposure to sexual stimuli can affect food choices, policymakers, health officials and food sustainability advisers need to be aware of this link in order to change behavioural attitudes towards meat and other products.”

Conversely, the study showed that women prioritise vegetarian dishes instead of meat when their sexual motivation systems are activated, “in order to make themselves desirable” to prospective partners.

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