Do Vegans Have Higher Levels of Testosterone?
Living a vegan lifestyle is often seen as stereotypical for many reasons. Among the misconceptions is the idea that vegans have lower testosterone than “real meat eaters,” but is that really true?
Even if you’re perfectly comfortable with the choices you’ve made in order to live a more sustainable, natural, low-impact, or vegan lifestyle, it’s hard to escape the stereotypes that society often attributes to those who have chosen those lifestyles. There’s a pervasive belief amongst non-vegans that dissuades many men from choosing veganism. That belief is that giving up meat will cause a drop in testosterone.
Recent studies have shed a light on this misconception, however, and the new question regarding veganism and hormones might actually be whether vegans have higher levels of testosterone.
Why would going vegan cause a drop in testosterone?
Soy has a pretty bad reputation in certain circles for lowering testosterone levels in men, and thanks to numerous studies, that has been proven wrong. If one were to nitpick the rumors, one could blame the meat industry for throwing around these baseless accusations. Baseless or not, once something like that is out there, it’s hard to put it away.
This myth was compounded by the old “real men only eat meat” stereotype. And while we’d love to wax on about the dangers of toxic masculinity, such discourse would benefit no one here — y’all know that phrase is nothing but a load of BS. Besides, there’s actually ample proof that the opposite is true.
Do vegans have higher levels of testosterone?
Fear not, vegan men with concerns about your masculinity! A recent study published in the British Journal of Cancer reported that vegans had 13 percent higher testosterone concentrations than meat-eaters, and 8 percent higher than vegetarians. The findings came from testing 696 men, 233 of whom were vegan, and it’s not the only study in recent years to report such telling results.
Another study undertaken in 2009 revealed similar findings and laid waste to the myths regarding soy. According to the study, soy protein does nothing to decrease the levels of testosterone in men. In fact, it had no effect on testosterone levels at all. Subsequent studies corroborated this conclusion and found that there was no relative difference between the testosterone levels of vegans or meat-eaters.
Are plant-based diets good for your health?
Stereotypes work both ways, even when it comes to veganism. Vegan diets are often construed as more healthy than non-vegan diets. Of course, that depends on what vegan food you are eating — but there’s no denying that removing extra fats, carcinogens, and cholesterol from your diet is going to make you feel better.
That same study from the British Journal of Cancer indicated that vegan men had 17 percent lower mean values of cholesterol than meat-eaters and 10 percent lower than vegetarians. It’s inconclusive, but it’s still enough to reaffirm the belief that plant-based diets are good for you.
Do vegan women have higher testosterone levels?
Considering what we now know about the relative testosterone levels of vegan and non-vegan men, some women readers might be concerned with their own amount of testosterone. Women's ovaries naturally produce both testosterone and estrogen, but they produce less testosterone than men do. Thus far, there is no proof that testosterone levels in women vegans are any higher than those of women who eat meat.
Men and women can both thrive on plant-based diets, but only if they choose to live a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, fewer preservatives and less processed foods are all key to being healthy. In the end, you’re not going to lose anything by choosing to live a vegan lifestyle, but you might have everything to gain.