Is Being a Vegetarian a Genetic Condition?
Scientists have determined that whether or not you like the smell of pork, a large component of how it tastes, is determined by a gene in your DNA. There is a genetic link to the food we like.
What's the Latest Development?
Scientists have determined that the presence of a particular gene in a person's DNA influences whether or not they can tolerate the smell of pork. The gene in question is linked to an odor receptor called OR7D4 and people with two copies of the gene (70% of the population) are less likely to tolerate a compound called androstenone, which is similar to testosterone and commonly found in pig muscle. The study was conducted by a team of American and Norwegian scientists after the European Union began considering a ban on castration, which reduces the amount of androstenone. The EU wanted to know if people's taste for meat would be affected by such a ban.
What's the Big Idea?
At the conclusion of the study, its authors wrote that "the data raise the possibility that more consumers will dislike male meat as a result of a castration ban." But beyond the scope of EU agricultural policy, the study demonstrates a surprising connection between our genetic makeup and our culinary preferences. The olfactory component of how you taste pork—a combination of its taste, smell, texture and temperature—is mostly determined by a gene. "Perhaps [future] studies can reveal how odor receptor genes function in populations such as vegetarians or those in the Middle East or near the Arctic, who do not eat pork or other similar meats."
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