Pop quiz: if one man orders a soy burger and another orders a steak, which guy do you think is more masculine?

If you said the steak-eater, you aren’t alone. A new study indicates people tend to think meat is far more macho than vegetarian choices.

Researchers conducted several experiments to study the metaphors people use about foods meat and vegetables, and found the participants not only used more masculine words when talking about meat, they perceived meat-eaters as more manly.

“To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, all-American food,” the researchers wrote. “Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy.”

This means health experts who advocate eating less meat may have a tough sell with guys. The study authors say that addressing the metaphors that shape consumer attitudes would help, but something as simple as reshaping soy burgers to make them look more like traditional hamburgers or even putting grill marks on them may make reluctant men more likely to give them a try.

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