There has been a long-held cultural association between meat and masculinity – with vegan diets stereotypically considered more feminine.
However, scientists have discovered that men who follow a plant-based eating regime have just as much testosterone as their carnivorous counterparts.
A study, published in the World Journal of Urology, has found that there was no difference in levels of the male hormone between meat eaters and vegans.
To come to their conclusions, researchers tested the blood testosterone levels of 191 men – and divided their diets into three categories: omnivorous, plant-based, and healthy plant-based.
Dr Ranjith Ramasamy, study co-author and director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at the University of Miami, said: “We found a plant-based diet was associated with normal testosterone levels, levels that are the same as occur in men who eat a traditional diet that includes more meat.”
There were also no fluctuations in testosterone levels between those who ate a healthy or “regular” plant-based diet – the latter being one with junk food.
Manish Kuchakulla, another co-author, added: “Whether a man ate a traditional diet with lots of animal foods, a healthy plant-based diet or a less healthy plant-based diet, simply did not matter.”
However, another study published last month found that replacing meat and dairy with vegan alternatives cut risk of heart disease by a third.
Indeed, swapping foods like steak and bacon for nuts and seeds cut people’s chance of dying of coronary heart disease by 30%.
What’s more, for those who don’t want to give up meat for good, just cutting intake by 3% can bring the risk down by 10%.
The benefits come from specifically from reducing consumption of red meat.
Researchers, at the National Cancer Institute in the United States, looked at the eating habits of more than 400,000 participants.
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They found an “inverse association”, meaning the more people switched their meat intake for pulses and grains, the lower their risk became.
It comes as further research found that a vegetarian diet rich in nuts and soy reduces the risk of stroke.
That study, published in the journal Neurology, analysed two groups of participants from Buddhist communities in Taiwan.
One group included 5,050 people who were followed for an average of six years, while the second included 8,302 who were followed for nine years.
Approximately a third of the participants in both groups were vegetarians, which researchers defined as people who did not eat any meat or fish.
After adjusting for other factors, researchers found vegetarians in the first group had a 74% lower risk of ischemic stroke than non-vegetarians, while in the second group they had a 48% lower risk of overall stroke than non-vegetarians.