Being a Vegetarian May Be Partly Genetic, New Study Finds


"Some people may be genetically better suited for a vegetarian diet than others,” lead study author Dr. Nabeel Yaseen said

Being a vegetarian may be partly genetic, according to a new study.

Earlier this week, a study published in PLOS One found that there is a group of genes associated with an individual's ability to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle.

The study compared the genetics of various vegetarians to the genetics of meat-eaters, who shared their medical and lifestyle data with the U.K. Biobank. The "large-scale biomedical database and research resource" contains "in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK participants," per the organization's website.

By analyzing data from approximately 5,300 vegetarians and 329,000 meat-eaters, researchers found that genes located on a chromosome that is involved in brain function and lipid metabolism — the process of fats being broken down for energy — are linked to choosing a vegetarian lifestyle.

The research team focused on individuals that they considered to be strict vegetarians, who had not consumed meat products for at least a year.

In a statement, lead study author Dr. Nabeel Yaseen, professor emeritus of pathology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, reacted to the findings.

“At this time we can say ... that genetics plays a significant role in vegetarianism and that some people may be genetically better suited for a vegetarian diet than others,” he said, according to CNN.

“A large proportion of self-described vegetarians actually report consuming meat products when responding to detailed questionnaires,” Yaseen continued. “This suggests that many people who would like to be vegetarian are not able to do so, and our data suggest that genetics is at least part of the reason.”

He added, per NBC News: “You don’t need to blame yourself if this is something you can’t really stick with."

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