Scientists Indicate That Genes May Be Involved In One’s Vegetarianism

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A recent study suggests that three specific genes may play a crucial role in determining an individual’s inclination towards vegetarianism. Scientists from Northwestern Medicine have identified these genes and propose that genetic factors could influence a person’s commitment to a plant-based diet.

Vegetarians occasionally take meat products

The study in the journal PLoS ONE has opened doors for future research on dietary recommendations and meat substitute production. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s pathology professor Dr Nabeel Yaseen asserts that the question of whether humans can substitute their diet with a vegetarian diet is something that has not been explored seriously.

Surprisingly, a significant proportion ranging from 48% to 64% of individuals self-identifying as “vegetarians” acknowledge the occasional consumption of red meat, fish, or poultry. This incongruity prompted Dr. Yaseen to contemplate whether environmental or biological influences could override their commitment to a vegetarian way of life.

Dr Yaseen says that it appears that there is a greater desire for vegetarianism than there are actual adherents, possibly indicating an inherent factor that some individuals might inadvertently overlook.

In a study analysing genetic data from 5,324 strict vegetarians and 329,455 controls, researchers identified three genes strongly linked to vegetarianism and 31 others with potential connections. Some of these genes, such as NPC1 and RMC1, are associated with lipid metabolism and brain function.

Meat has essential lipids that plants don’t have

In the realm of nutritional differences between plant products and meat, a key distinction lies in complex lipids, according to Yaseen. It is suggested that meat may contain essential lipid components that certain individuals require, while those genetically predisposed to vegetarianism might synthesize these components internally. However, it is important to note that this concept remains speculative, and further research is necessary to fully comprehend the physiological aspects of vegetarianism.

Religious, moral, and health reasons drive vegetarianism, though it’s still a minority choice, with just 2.3% of U.K. adults being vegetarian. Prof. Yaseen suggests that metabolic responses to food can influence taste preferences, similar to how people acquire a taste for alcohol or coffee over time.

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