Food and nutrition represents a new frontier of the sociological analyses of gender regimes and structures. This article draws from a qualitative study into the social, ethical and spiritual dimensions of vegetarianism. It explores the impact of hegemonic masculinity upon the adoption of meatless diets, in various social contexts where vegetarianism is characterized as effeminate, and lacking the essential ingredients for being a 'real' man. The data suggests that the belief that meat provides strength and vigour to men and the associated enforcement of meat-eating as a social norm is, according to a majority of the informants in the study, a key reason why vegetarianism is not an appealing choice for men. New knowledge about the role of gender norms in human food habits and practices will inform broader theories of gendered eating, and would also be highly useful in multidisciplinary efforts to improve public health.