Guys: To be considered “manly,” you need to be seen eating meat.  That’s the gist of new research from the American Psychological Association. It shows that for most people, meat consumption is something we symbolically associate with power, virility, and manhood. And the connection’s so strong, that we tend to perceive eating meat to be as manly an activity as watching football!

That may not come as a surprise to any guy who’s ever turned down a salad, so he could have a burger instead. In fact, despite a growing awareness about the dangers of eating too much meat, only 3 percent of North Americans admit to being vegetarian.  And guys in particular declare their masculinity by swearing off so-called “chick food” – like salads, tofu, yogurt, and cottage cheese.

So, where does that attitude come from? Ken Rothberger is a psychologist who led the new study. And he says it boils down to the fact that men are more likely than women to say that hunting, killing, and eating animals makes them feel good about themselves! He says that’s especially true during holidays, when men get to eat meat in a way that’s public and celebrated.

For example: Rothberger says when men grill steaks for the 4th of July - or carve up a turkey for Thanksgiving - that’s quote “the pinnacle of their manly display.” And the more deep-fried and fatty the food, the better.

Here’s the problem: Research shows that eating lots of red meat can be bad for us. For starters: Heavy meat-eaters have a higher risk of cancer and heart disease, compared to people who rarely eat meat.

So that makes us wonder: Is it more “manly” to eat burgers every day and die of a heart-attack? Or to be healthy and alive eating ‘chick food’?