A new study could dispel the stereotype that “real men eat meat” as the findings revealed no difference between the testosterone levels of the vegans and meat-eaters
There is a misconception held by many that eating meat is manly and swapping sausages for soy will lead to a drop in testosterone, a myth that dissuades many men from going vegan.
Vegan diets have long-held a bad rep for impacting male testosterone levels, with foods such as soy having a reputation for lowering testosterone despite a review of 15 studies in 2009 finding that soy protein had no effect on testosterone levels in men.
A new study, which was published in the World Journal of Urology in May, has just proved this falsehood wrong however as the research revealed that there is no difference between the testosterone levels of vegans and meat-eaters.
‘Normal testosterone levels’
Researchers tested the blood testosterone levels of 191 cisgender men as part of the study before diving their diets into three sets: omnivorous, plant-based, and healthy plant-based to evaluate “the association between the plant-based content of diet and serum testosterone levels in men.”
The tests aimed to reveal the true impact of plant-based diets on masculinity by measuring differences in the participant’s hormonal levels based on their diet preferences, with readings below 33 ng/dL marked testosterone deficient, the level recognized by the American Urology Association.
Breaking the stigma surrounding plant-based diets and masculinity, the findings revealed no difference between the testosterone levels of the vegans and meat-eaters taking part in the study.
Co-author of the study and director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at the University of Miami, Dr Ranjith Ramasamy, 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.”
Plant-based vs junk food diet
The research also found that how healthy the participant’s diet was ‘simply did not matter’ as there were no variations in hormone levels between those eating a healthy plant-based diet made up of wholefoods or a vegan diet that includes junk and processed foods.
Other factors such as the participant’s age and BMI were also tested and these were found to have an impact on the subjects’ testosterone levels.
Manish Kuchakulla, a co-author on the study, 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.”
‘Enhanced testosterone levels’
Whilst the Miami University study found no difference in the hormone levels of meat-eaters and vegans, an earlier study published in 2000 showed that men eating a whole-food plant-based diet actually saw their testosterone levels enhanced.
A British Journal of Cancer study, which tested 696 men (233 of whom were vegans) reported: “Vegans had 13% higher T [testosterone] concentration than meat-eaters and 8% higher than vegetarians.”
James Odene discovers why more men aren’t vegan (and how to get them to change their minds!) here.