Does the smell and taste of meat made you feel sick to your stomach? Well, you could be a genetic vegetarian.
In a study conducted by Duke University and a team from Norway, a significant portion of the subjects had a negative reaction to the smell and taste of pig meat. Saying somebody could be genetic vegetarian may be an oversimplification, but disliking the smell and taste of meat would certainly be a step in the right direction.
People are vegetarian for a variety of reasons, but genetics may play a more crucial role. They determine how we smell and taste food. Many of us have disliked the taste and smell of meat from a very early age. For some people an aversion to eating meat started much later in life.
At the heart of the distaste for dead animals is the gene OR7D4. Researchers have found that should a person inherit the gene from one parent, the distaste for meat, pork in particular, is mild. Inherit the same gene from two parents and eating meat will turn into a strict no-no, and a person will find the smell and taste of meat disgusting and revolting.
The ORD7D4 gene is linked to odor receptors that respond to androstenone, which is a testosterone-like chemical in swine flesh. Some of the participants in the study found the taste of pork rancid, and the flesh had the smell of ammonia.
The EU had placed a ban on castration of pigs, due to pressure from animal rights groups. This new study might have an impact on the ban. Apparently castrated pigs produce better smelling and tastier meat. Are there other genes that could be involved in people being vegetarian? Probably, but not as clear cut as the ORD7D4 gene. The researchers and the authors of the Plos One gene study, may yet come up with new surprises.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.