7 Reasons Vegans Are More Likely to Be Women Than Men
Who’s leading the way when it comes to cutting back on meat consumption? Women, Democrats, and non-white people—at least according to a Gallup poll released earlier this year. According to their survey, 23% of Americans are eating less meat, or report that they have reduced their meat consumption in the past year from when the poll was conducted. And when it comes to eating meatless, that was before the coronavirus had more people searching for meat alternatives than ever. Women are about twice as likely as men to say they’re eating less meat, clocking in at 31% to 15%, respectively. Overall, it’s been estimated that 80% of vegans in the U.S. are women—that’s a whopping four out of five plant-based people you meet.
In light of the uptick of women making the plant-based plunge—which we can only assume is growing in the wake of the growing interest in a nutrient-dense, vegan lifestyle to support health in wake of the coronavirus pandemic—we asked experts to weigh in on the gender disparity, sharing both the good and the bad. Below, we dive into the main reasons more women than men might be #GoingVegan.
1. Women are nurturing by nature.
“Women in society are cast to be more nurturing and protectors, which also carries on to their nurturing and protective nature towards animals and the environment,” offers Bansari Acharya, MA, RD. “It is easier for a woman to show compassion towards animals and provide reasons to her friends, family, or society on why she became vegan as most people will be more accepting towards a woman becoming vegan than a man due to the role society plays in how we differently men and women are perceived.” Of course, this isn’t to say men aren’t compassionate people, simply that in mainstream culture, a woman may feel more comfortable publicly avowing her stance on animal cruelty and protecting our planet’s natural resources.
2. Women may be more interested in self-improvement than men.
Women are more likely to undergo change processes in their lives, and this may result in more women than men applying that ethos (or feeling pressured) to their diet. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, A Harvard trained clinical psychologist currently working at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, in New York City, weighs in: “Women are [more susceptible to embarking on journeys of change] and therefore inclined to change their diet because they are primed towards self-improvement processes in other domains of their lives.”
Of course, this can be an empowering thing, as many women may be inspired to go vegan proactively as a decision to reduce their risk of diseases like diabetes or cancer.
3. Men are afraid to give up their “grillmaster” rep.
Alas, those “The Grill Sergeant” and “Licensed to Grill” macho man shirt logos may simply be a source of eye-rolling at a barbecue gathering, but the underlying psychology of such shirts is telling: Many men feel like grilling is an important part of their identity. Jamie Hickey, NASM, FMS certified trainer, and ISSA nutritionist. and founder of TruismFitness.com has seen this time and time again with men’s egos.
“I’ve spent years talking to clients and have heard more than a handful of men tell me they have thought about going on a vegan diet but were worried about what their friends would say,” says Hickey. “Mentally men feel like they need to be tough and a carnivore diet instills the hunter mentality whereas a vegan diet has the stigma of being more of a women’s diet.”
4. Women feel more pressure to be slim.
“Society’s cultural notions of masculinity have linked meat and manliness together for centuries. Just notice how meat marketing often targets men, not women,” comments Marie Elena Bitar, MPH, RD, Founder and Owner of Beyond Food Rules, harkening back to our discussion above about grilling and barbecue culture. On the flip side, Bitar adds that women are often at mercy of the stigma associated with overeating and feel pressured to maintain a trim physique. For some, in turn, this could inspire them to opt for low-calorie vegan meals.
Unfortunately, in these cases, going vegan gives women (or anyone for that matter) an opportunity to shield loved ones from an eating disorder. “It’s a lot easier to decline a decadent dessert by saying ‘I can’t eat that, I’m vegan’ rather than “I can’t eat that, I have an eating disorder,’” comments Bitar.
5. Hormones, hormones, hormones.
“Many women find themselves going vegan as they continue to see the link between plant-based diets and hormone balance. The woman's body is designed to store fat more easily than men so that it can both grow and nurture life,” comments Trista K. Best, MPH, RD, LDN. “Because of this fact, a diet inclusive of animal sources means higher rates of saturated fat and an increase in fat stores. A plant-based diet provides the dieter with nutrient rich-calories that are used more readily by the body as energy rather than excess being stored as fat.”
Additionally, as Best elucidates, hormones serve a key role in fat stores. “Eating estrogen from animal sources, even organic grass-fed sources causes something known as estrogen dominance. This equates to higher levels of estrogen in the body, excess stress on the liver, and inevitable weight gain and potential toxicity. Plant-based diets are connected with lowering estrogen in the body to a level that is safe and effective,” says Best.
6. Women want to reap the benefits of anti-inflammatory diets.
From joint pain to skin conditions, inflammation is no fun, and many women want to take the reins on their health and fight that with the powers of plant-based foods and are perhaps more attuned to this than their male counterparts. “Another reason for women turning to a vegan diet is the anti-inflammatory nature of the diet itself. Foods on a vegan diet are both void of inflammatory foods and rich in anti-inflammatory foods making it an ideal eating pattern for anyone with chronic inflammation,” offers Lisa Richards, CNC, creator of The Candida Diet. “As women age, the inflammation in their bodies can increase, but this inflammation can also exacerbate existing health conditions like pain, arthritis, energy, and weight gain.”
7. Women want to take charge of their mental wellbeing.
As the wellness industry is more dominated by women than men, it’s no surprise that more women are inspired to make lifestyle changes than men. One area of particular focus? Sanity.
“I follow a plant-based diet, myself, and my reasons are primarily for my mental health and clarity. Cutting out potential allergens and inflammatory foods have improved my personal cognition,” says Best. “There is certainly research that shows these benefits, but for me, I've observed the proof for myself.”
Ready to see the proof in the pudding, ladies? To get started on your vegan journey, check out our 21-day plant-based challenge.