London - They may hope their love of animals will make them a hit with the ladies.
But vegetarian men are seen as wimps and less macho than those who like tucking into a steak - even by women who do not eat meat themselves, research shows.
The finding will dismay the many single men who have given up meat for health, environmental or animal welfare reasons.
Researchers gave hundreds of young men and women descriptions of fictional students varying only according to diet, and asked them to rate aspects of their personalities.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the vegetarian characters were seen as being more virtuous.
Further questioning revealed that men who do not eat meat were also viewed as less masculine than the others - even by vegetarians.
Researcher Dr Steven Heine, of the University of British Columbia, told Appetite journal that meat and men have always gone hand in hand.
“Meat has been closely associated with power and privilege - a staple for gentry and a rare treat for the peasants,” he said.
“Through abstaining from meat, a widely established symbol of power, status and masculinity, it seems the vegetarian man is perceived as more principled, but less manly, than his omnivorous counterpart.”
Co-author Matthew Ruby said single vegetarian men should not despair, as they may have other appealing traits.
He added: “Some people would prefer a more masculine partner, whereas others prefer a less masculine partner.”
Previous research has found vegetarians are seen as pacifist, weight-conscious and liberal, while fast-food lovers are perceived as patriotic, pro-nuclear and conservative.
Three percent of British adults do not eat any meat or fish and another five percent describe themselves as “partly vegetarian”. – Daily Mail