New research once again shows that being a vegetarian doesn’t make you some sort of crazy hippie. Or at least if it does, you were genetically predisposed to crazy hippiedom.
A new paper from Cornell University has found a potential genetic difference between those who are vegetarians and those who are not. Scientists identified a specific gene (or allele) that is found in areas where the populations are more likely to adhere to a vegetarian diet such as parts of India, Africa and East Asia. Meanwhile, a different version of the same gene was seen in Greenland’s Inuit people whose diet consists mainly of seafood.
“Our study is the first to connect an insertion allele with vegetarian diets, and the deletion allele with a marine diet,” said co-lead author Kaixiong Ye. “It is the most interesting example of local adaptation that I have been fortunate to help study,” added Alon Keinan, an associate professor and the paper’s co-senior author.
Using data from the 100 Genome Project, the researchers were able break down the percentage of people from different regions that had the “vegetarian gene” in question. For example, 68 percent of the Indian subjects they looked at had the allele compared to just 18 percent of Americans – numbers that coincide to these countries’ traditional diets.
Ye suggested that in the future, we may even be able to use this information to develop “personalized nutrition” that matches our diet to our genome. Steak lovers, you may want to avoid consenting to any genetic testing. You know, just in case.