New international research has found that being sexually motivated may increase a man's preference for meat, as they believe it makes them more attractive to the opposite sex.

Carried out by researchers at Monash University, based in Melbourne, the new study looked at more than 1,600 participants from Australia, the USA and the UK across three different experiments to look at a possible link between sexual motivation and meat consumption.

In the first experiment, participants were shown images of attractive men and women -- none of which were sexually-provocative -- before being asked to choose either a beef or vegan jerky. In the second study, participants were divided into two groups and asked to imagine meeting an attractive person of the opposite sex, spending a romantic evening with him/her, and finding themselves romantically attached to them, or if placed in the control group, just to imagine a fun night out with a friend of the same sex. The third study used similar sexual motivation manipulation techniques, with men and women offered a meat option or vegetarian or vegan option to eat after.

The findings, published in the Food Quality and Preference Journal, showed that in all three experiments men were more likely to choose the meat option when sexually motivated than when placed in a control group.

Also read: How a red meat-rich diet can increase levels of chemical linked with heart disease

The researchers note that this could be explained by human evolutionary history. For our ancestors, meat was both hard to find and difficult to prepare and so helped men show off a status to women, increasing their desirability to potential mates, as well as providing them with nutrients and strength.

While more than 86 percent of men chose the meat option in the first experiment, just 54 percent of females did in comparison.

The team say that this is possibly due to using women using other strategies, such as beauty and health, to make themselves desirable to men.

"Sexual and mating desires are fundamental to all of humankind's existence. As such, our search for a mate is so fundamental in the evolutionary psyche that it might shape food decisions also -- so long as they are relevant in attaining mating goals," said co-author Dr. Eugene Chan.

"The link between meat and status is grounded in evolutionary drivers of consumption. Cavemen consumed meat in order to be strong, healthy and powerful enough to survive the harsh environment. Royalty and the nobility also consumed meat because it signified wealth," added Associate Professor Dr. Natalina Zlatevska.

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