Do human carnivores who crave meat or meat and potatoes have a part of their brains wired differently from vegans? Why do so many men or young boys think it's unmanly to go vegan? The part of the brain that makes humans and primates social creatures may play a similar role in carnivores, according to a growing body of research by a Michigan State University neuroscientist, says a new study mentioned in the October 8, 2013 Michigan State University press release, "Studying the social side of carnivores." The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, is published in the current issue of the research journal Brain, Behavior and Evolution - Home - Karger Publishers.
Why do some boys think meat eating is more masculine and vegetable eating is more feminine? Scientists asked why vegetarianism is viewed as more lady-like and feminine and by contrast, meat eating by males is seen as masculine, according to a study published in January 2013 in the Journal of Consumer Research. Check out the news release, "You are what you eat: Why do male consumers avoid vegetarian options?" based on the study, from the University of Chicago Press Journals. Also see the article, Men Skip Their 5-A-Days and Opt for Meat Because They Find Vegetables Unmanly.
If a child is introduced to eating vegetables early enough in life and sees the other family members glad to eat their vegetables, and the food is cut up in attractive shapes on the plate, chances are the child will eat what's familiar. What about all types of animals? How do other species eat or prefer their food? Is eating meat social or more social than munching vegetables or fruits?
In studying spotted hyenas, lions and, most recently, the raccoon family, Sharleen Sakai has found a correlation between the size of the animals’ frontal cortex and their social nature. Also see the article, "Unlocking Secrets of the Brain." Her brain research portfolio one of the most diverse in the nation. Check out the article, "Studying the social side of carnivores."
In her latest study, Sakai examined the digitally recreated brains of three species in the Procyonid family – the raccoon, the coatimundi and the kinkajou – and found the coatimundi had the largest frontal cortex. The frontal cortex is thought to regulate social interaction, and the coatimundi is by far the most social of the three animals, often living in bands of 20 or more.
“Most neuroscience research that looks at how brains evolve has focused primarily on primates, so nobody really knows what the frontal cortex in a carnivore does,” said Sakai, professor of psychology, according to the October 8, 2013 news release, Studying the social side of carnivores. “These findings suggest the frontal cortex is processing social information in carnivores perhaps similar to what we’ve seen in monkeys and humans.”
Sakai did the most recent study in her neuroscience lab with Bradley Arsznov, a former MSU doctoral student who’s now an assistant professor of psychology at Minnesota State University. Sakai is one of myriad MSU faculty members who help make the university’s brain research portfolio one of the most diverse in the nation.
Her latest study was based on the findings from 45 adult Procyonid skulls acquired from university museum collections (17 coatimundis, 14 raccoons and 14 kinkajous). The researchers used computed tomography, or CT scans, and sophisticated software to digitally “fill in” the areas where the brains would have been.
When they analyzed into the findings, they discovered the female coatimundi had the largest anterior cerebrum volume consisting mainly of the frontal cortex, which regulates social activity in primates. This makes sense, Sakai said, since the female coatimundi is highly social while the male coatimundi, once grown, typically lives on its own or with another male. Also known as the Brazilian aardvark, the coatimundi – or coati – is native to Central and South America.
Raccoons, the most solitary of the three animals, had the smallest frontal cortex. However, raccoons had the largest posterior cerebrum, which contains the sensory area related to forepaw sensation and dexterity – and the raccoon’s forepaws are extremely dexterous and highly sensitive.
The rainforest-dwelling kinkajou had the largest cerebellum and brain stem, areas that regulate motor coordination. This skill is crucial for animals like the kinkajou that live in trees. Brain size variations in this small family of carnivores appear to be related to differences in behavior including social interaction, Sakai said. For more information, check out the article, "Studying the social side of carnivores."
Do boys think it's masculine to eat meat and feminine to eat vegetables?
Have you ever wondered why young children tend to eat the foods mentioned in comic books or action movies that are consumed by action heroes or masculine characters? Male children are influenced by a strong association of meat with masculinity, according to a study published online March 6, 2012 in the Journal of Consumer Research.
The study looked for the reasons why men are generally more reluctant to try vegetarian products that seem to attract more women and a few vegetarian or vegan men. Action movies often show hero characters eating a plate of meat and not very often a salad.
The exception is the cartoon character, Popeye, who in comic books and cartoons ate canned spinach to become strong. Unless a child sees his father growing vegetables and fruits, he may not take to eating what's not familiar daily on the table when the parents eat together with the children at the same time or when the vegetables are cut into bite-size morsels.
Researchers find strong connection between meat eating and masculinity
In a number of experiments that looked at metaphors and certain foods, like meat and milk, the authors found that people rated meat as more masculine than vegetables. They also found that meat generated more masculine words when people discussed it, and that people viewed male meat eaters as being more masculine than non-meat eaters.
It's not just about eating meat. It's also about an ancestral diet of hunting meat and the bravery and brute strength once required to bring down a mammoth for the village during the act of finding, hunting, and butchering meat.
In most countries where animals are slaughtered, it's the men who kill the animal and butcher it and the women who cook the meal, gather the vegetarian grain, and bake the bread. In some cultures, men do the outside grilling of meat in the yard, especially when feeding a large group of people at a gathering. In the past and up to the present most chefs specializing in preparing and processing meat such as charcuterie chefs are male.
Other articles have appeared in major publications such as Meat, morals, and masculinity, Real men must eat meat say women as they turn their noses up at vegetarians and People Think of Vegetarians as Less Manly. "We examined whether people in Western cultures have a metaphoric link between meat and men," write authors Paul Rozin (University of Pennsylvania), Julia M. Hormes (Louisiana State University), Myles S. Faith (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), and Brian Wansink (Cornell University), according to the news release.
The answer, they found, was a strong connection between eating meat—especially muscle meat, like steak—and masculinity. Meat is associated more with masculinity because of the strength, bravery, hunting in groups, and teamwork required to bring down a beast for food.
If you want to increase the amount of fresh vegetables and fruits your child eats, cut up the vegetables and fruits into small pieces a child's mouth and child's fingers can easily handle. And let the child see you and any relatives or guests eating the food. Dice and slice that fresh produce or vegetable and fruit finger food. And make chunks of vegetables small enough in a soup or stew that the child can easily manage in a small mouth with tiny teeth.
The spoon or fork or even chopsticks need to be manageable by small hands if the veggies and fruits are not to be held with the fingers. Then show the child you're eating the same food and so are any relatives or guests at the table. You may want to dice, slice, or cut the vegetables in small pieces or at an angle, for example, with carrot segments. Or use a cookie cutter to press vegetables into shapes or stars.
Do you have a son who consistently avoids vegetables or vegan foods because he considers foods other than burgers and steaks too girlish? Eating muscle meat such as steak, has been found in a new study to be strongly connected to men's view of masculinity. The aversion to vegetables and fruit could start early in the life of a boy who associates meat with masculinity.
Meat related to the male gender in many languages
Most of the studies took place in the United States and Britain, but the authors also analyzed 23 languages that use gendered pronouns. They discovered that across most languages, meat was related to the male gender. Men prepared whole animals for feasts such as on holidays calling for a whole lamb or pig to be sacrificed and cooked in a pit or on a grill.
Even in photography beefcake refers to magazine photos of male models and cheesecake to women, even though cheese is ovo-lacto vegetarian and not vegan, even though some women are referred to with the name of a tree fruit such as a peach or the apple of someone's eye.
"To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food," the authors write, according to the news release. "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."
In the media, few men are depicted eating tofu or raw vegan salads and casseroles. In the 1970s there was a movement called real men don't eat quiche, although in some cultures cheesemaking is a male occupation. Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, by American Bruce Feirstein, is a bestselling tongue-in-cheek book satirizing stereotypes of masculinity, published in 1982. Check out the August 2, 1982 People magazine article, "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche? So Says Bruce Feirstein, a Writer With—Well—Crust," by Kathy Mackay.
Why is vegetarian associated with weakness instead of morality toward living creatures?
If marketers or health advocates want to counteract such powerful associations, they need to address the metaphors that shape consumer attitudes, the authors explain. For example, an education campaign that urges people to eat more soy or vegetables would be a tough sell, but reshaping soy burgers to make them resemble beef or giving them grill marks might help cautious men make the transition, the researchers report.
"In marketing, understanding the metaphor a consumer might have for a brand could move the art of positioning toward more of a science," the authors conclude, according to the news release. Interestingly, the various cable and satellite TV travel shows have gravitated to shows where the stars are chefs that eat lots of red meat and seafood but few vegetables unless they are side dishes.
You have TV travel shows such as "Man versus Food," where portion sizes of meat are huge. You also have "Bizarre Foods," where the host eats foods such as insects, red meat, the sex organs of edible animals, raw seafood, and various organ meats, even blood, when traveling to areas where bovine blood is consumed as a food.
The stars of these travel for food demonstration shows usually are former chefs who meet people around the globe who either sell food, are chefs, or who invite these males to family homes where most of the hosts eat meat or seafood. Few vegetables are mentioned other than what is served in soups and as side dishes accompanying the main entree.
Check out the new study by Paul Rozin, Julia M. Hormes, Myles S. Faith, and Brian Wansink. "Is Meat Male? A Quantitative Multi-Method Framework to Establish Metaphoric Relationships." Journal of Consumer Research: October 2012. The online preview edition has been up since March 6, 2012. For more information, visit the Journal of Consumer Research.
See, October 2012 Articles -- Journal of Consumer Research. The article preview is online, "Is Meat Male? A Quantitative Multi-Method Framework to Establish Metaphoric Relationships." Authors are: Paul Rozin, Julia M. Hormes, Myles S. Faith, Brian Wansink. Check out the (Press Release) or the (References). (Published online Mar 6, 2012).
A new study identified that cutting up fruits and vegetables and family consumption of fruits and vegetables facilitates children's intake of fresh produce
Eating a family meal together regularly could increase children's fruit and vegetable intake and help them achieve the recommended intake. Children will mimic the eating habits of their parents if the type of foods are seen frequently. Kids do what they see when it comes to food choices and eating habits.
If the child observers a parent boiling plain white pasta instead of rice bran pasta in a pot of water and pouring melted butter and ketchup over the cooked pasta instead of serving creamed kale or freshly steamed tomatoes and garlic over the food, the child will continue to demand white flour pasta drenched in butter and ketchup instead of looking for alternatives such as rice bran or soy pasta cooked with fresh tomatoes or a home-made sauce of ground cooked lentils pureed to look like gravy.
Any type of family dinner or party spent as a family, though can help boost children's intake of healthy fruits and vegetables, a new study reports that's published December 19, 2012 in the journal Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Check out the study's abstract, "Family meals can help children reach their 5 A Day: a cross-sectional survey of children's dietary intake from London primary schools." Or see the December 20, 2012 news release from Medline and Health Day, "Family Meals Encourage Kids to Eat More Veggies, Fruit."
The study's goal focused on exploring how the home food environment and parental attitudes and values affect children's fruit and vegetable intake. The sample consists of 2383 children with a mean age of 8.3 years (95% CI 8.2 to 8.3) attending 52 primary schools in London. These children are taking part in two randomized controlled trials to evaluate a school gardening program.
The Child And Diet Evaluation Tool (CADET)
Diet was assessed using a validated 24-h food tick list, the Child And Diet Evaluation Tool (CADET). Children who regularly dine with their families are also more likely to meet the World Health Organization's recommended daily intake of five 2.8-ounce portions of fruits and vegetables a day, according to the British study published online Dec. 19 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The CADET tool found that children consumed on average 293 g of fruit and vegetables (95% CI 287 to 303) per day. Clustered (by school) multilevel regression models with total fruit and vegetables as the primary outcome were conducted to explore how the home environment affects children's fruit and vegetable intake.
"The results from this study illustrate a positive health message for parents, which could improve their own dietary habits and their children's," wrote Meaghan Christian, of the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, and colleagues, according to the news release, "Family Meals Encourage Kids to Eat More Veggies, Fruit." Researchers examined the diets of more than 2,000 London primary school children. Their parents were asked to provide information about how often their families ate meals together.
This study identified that cutting up F&V and family consumption of fruits and vegetables facilitates children's intake. Eating a family meal together regularly could increase children's fruit and vegetable intake and help them achieve the recommended intake.
Families that always ate together at more fruits and vegetables than those who never eat a meal together
Children of families who reported ‘always’ eating a family meal together at a table had 125 g (95% CI 92 to 157; p=<0.001) more fruits and vegetables than families who never ate a meal together. Daily consumption of fruits and vegetables by parents was associated with higher fruit and vegetable (88 g, 95% CI 37 to 138) intake in children compared with rarely/never consumption of fruits and vegetables by parents.
Cutting up fruit and vegetables for children was associated with higher consumption. Families who reported always cutting up fruits and vegetables for their children had 44 g (95% CI 18 to 71) more F&V than families who never cut up fruits and vegetables. On average, the children in the study ate about 10 ounces (3.7 portions) of fruits and vegetables per day.
Kids who sometimes or regularly ate meals with their family consumed more produce
But children who sometimes or regularly ate meals with their family consumed more produce, according to the study. Compared to children who never ate meals with their families, those who sometimes ate meals with their families consumed an average of 3.4 ounces more of fruits and vegetables every day, while those who regularly ate meals with their families consumed an average of 4.5 ounces more per day, the study found.
If a child never sees family members at the same table eating anything but take-out food, meat and fries, frozen processed foods, canned vegetables, food made from bleached white flour and fats, chips lots of bread, or constant take-out pizza or white rice and not brown or black rice at the dinner table, fast-food, or even only one type of ethnic food, the child usually will prefer that type of food because of familiarity or habit of seeing what's being eaten at home.
Some kids get to see mostly canned or processed, packaged chicken or tomato soup or dried mashed potatoes on almost a daily basis -- and almost no vegetables other than some canned or frozen carrots and peas. Others see only iceberg lettuce but never kale, collards, or raw spinach in a salad.
And other kids see lots of cake or cupcakes but almost never desserts made from quinoa and amaranth or fresh fruit in season other than apples or bananas. How many kids eat blueberries daily or mango sherbet home-made with a spoon of coconut--pureed from whole, fresh fruits? Overall, children who regularly ate meals with their families met the WHO recommendations of five portions of fruits and vegetables a day, while those who sometimes or never ate meals with their families fell short, according to a journal news release.
Parents' eating habits also had an impact
Kids see. Kids do. For example, children whose parents ate fruits and vegetables every day ate an average of about 3 ounces more than kids whose parents rarely or never did so, according to the study. Children whose parents always cut up their fruits and vegetables also ate about 2 ounces more per day than those whose parents did not help in this way. And for every type of produce consumed in the home, children's intake increased by about 0.2 ounces daily, the investigators found.
The research team found that in the study, if you want your children to eat their vegetables, cut up the fruits and vegetables. And you eat vegetables and fruits together at meal time sitting together at the same dining or kitchen table as your children. For further information on children's nutrition, check out the nutrition information sites, Infant and Newborn Nutrition, Toddler Nutrition, Children and Teenagers, or Food and Nutrition.