A Matter Of Taste

New Study:

“Subjects registered their social values and diet choices, then took a sausage-roll taste test. Those who prized traits such as authority and wealth rated rolls labeled ‘beef’ tastier than ones labeled ‘vegetarian’—regardless of what was actually in the wrap.”


4 Responses to A Matter Of Taste

  1. I think those of us who have been parents (or want to be?) have observed this phenomenon in action. If you tell a child she must eat her vegetables before she can have dessert that sends a clear message that there is something off about veggies. Similarly, if you suggest that a child might not like something new you can be pretty sure that the average child will not like it – may not even taste it. Thus a suggestion about the food will often affect how it tastes to us.

    For many years now, beef has been associated with wealth and power. We see it in novels and movies as well as in our own experiences. Vegetable dishes, especially main dish veg dishes, are scorned. It is rare indeed to see any kind of film or television program where a veg dish is treated as “terrific”. One rare exception is Animal Planet’s Whale Wars, where everyone is a-lovin’ the vegan meals, even the non-vegans.

    As our media move more toward acceptance of veg choices I think we will see a change in this kind of reaction. To my mind, though, the media is waaaay behind, as usual.

  2. My personal theory is that this is in part wrapped up in femininity and masculinity. That is, taking life (traditionally masculine – warrior) is perceived as more powerful than giving life (traditionally feminine – mother). I think there’s a lot more going on too, but I think a feminist analysis fits.

  3. I think the study more easily correlates with the concept of authority based decision making and the herd mentality discussed here: http://www.vegansoapbox.com/the-herd-mentality/

    I also think there is room to claim that until the advent of factory farming, meat has been rather expensive. Only the wealthy could afford to eat meat on a regular basis. So, the poor and middle class saw meat as a luxury. The view that meat is more valuable and “better” than vegetables pervades in this culture.

    Plus, a lot of meat eaters are very defensive about their dietary choices when confronted with the idea of vegetarianism. Many of us have probably experienced this first hand. I think one could argue that the rating of “meat sausage” as better than “vegetarian sausage” despite the actual contents of the sausage could have to do with a knee jerk reaction on the part of meat eaters to say that anything vegetarian is bad in order to further solidify their meat eating position.

    I think the feminist analysis is a bit of a stretch. In many cultures, the traditional role of the warrior is to defend the lives of his people, not to just kill.

    I agree that traditional masculine concepts include power via physical strength, but to say that killing is traditionally male and giving life is traditionally female is innaccurate. In many societies, females hunted the smaller game animals while the men hunted the larger game animals. The males held the role of physical power, but the females participated in killing.

  4. Wouldn’t it be fun to do more studies and flesh all these theories out? I love sociological experiments. I think human behavior is fascinating.


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