Evidence suggests that our early ancestors began eating meat millions of years ago. The reasons why are merely suspect as it’s not really possible to jet-set back to the first moment mammoth hit the menu and ask why that decision was made, but there’s one thing scientists are largely in agreement on. The jaws and teeth of these early humans were much more powerful than our modern jaws, allowing them to eat raw meat, in a way that modern humans cannot.

And, apparently, they had sick moves.

If We Want a Sustainable Future, We've Got to Get Over the Ridiculous Idea That ‘Real Men’ Eat Meat
 
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Over time we’ve evolved, and so have our chompers, which makes the concept of meat eating far more subject to cultural norms than necessity for human survival. Just take a look at the meat consumption across the globe and you’ll see what we mean. The amount of meat eaten per capita varies wildly from country to country, with the importance placed on it as a dietary component largely driving its prevalence on a plate.

One of these cultural driving forces to pick beef over broccoli (Which is a travesty. Broccoli is freaking delicious!) is the concept that meat is somehow a manlier food. Really? As if the world doesn’t have enough gender stereotypes to weed through, now we’ve assigned a few to foods? What’s a feminine food then? Everything else? Is a guy less of a guy if he goes for an apple now and then?

Easy there, cowboy.

If We Want a Sustainable Future, We've Got to Get Over the Ridiculous Idea That ‘Real Men’ Eat Meat
 

Or, is it only if he eats the apple instead of doing a steak eating competition in order to get his picture on the restaurant wall? It’s like, in order to be a man in our society you have to consume copious amounts of food, mainly of the animal variety. Well, both our society and in middle earth apparently.

By this logic, hobbits are the most manly of us all!

If We Want a Sustainable Future, We've Got to Get Over the Ridiculous Idea That ‘Real Men’ Eat Meat
 

When you think it about like this, it seems kind of ridiculous that a food would be more or less manly than any other food. As it turns out, a brand spankin’ new study agrees. TitledMeat and masculinity among young Chinese, Turkish and Dutch adults in the Netherlands, the study set out to address the barriers that might stand in the way of sustainable eating by examining the conceptual tie between meat and masculinity.

Out of these three ethnic groups, the basic finds showed that eating meat was more prominent in cultures that perceived larger differences between genders. Basically, if there was a cultural belief that men and women needed to fall in with the traditional definitions of gender, the men in that culture were far more likely to be opposed to eating less meat.

You know how it is.

If We Want a Sustainable Future, We've Got to Get Over the Ridiculous Idea That ‘Real Men’ Eat Meat
 
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The study had a promising flip-side to its conclusion though, which was that the groups with the smallest perceived difference in genders were more likely to embrace a more sustainable way of eating in their male demographic. These guys didn’t need to go online and post pictures of bacon to feel like guys; their validation came from within.

Which means, if we can stop propagating the concept that eating meat is manly – with the implication that eschewing it is not – we can actually hope to move forward as a species into a world without the hottest temperatures on record and epic droughts. Seriously, when did it become more important to be seen as a “bro” than to breathe clean oxygen? News flash, you’re not gonna look like the coolest dude in school when the Amazon is gone and the polar ice caps melt all over your barbecue pit.

 Put that drumstick down, damn it

If We Want a Sustainable Future, We've Got to Get Over the Ridiculous Idea That ‘Real Men’ Eat Meat
 

It’s high time we started valuing responsible and sustainable choices over some antiquated and, frankly, destructive stereotype. Real men (and women, remember, we’re minimizing perceived gender differences around here) eat for the planet, not for the guy cred.

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Lead image source: Time