Why Bacon Evokes a Carnivorous Moment for Vegetarians


Photo: shawnzam

To start, this isn't the first time I've heard this. I'm mostly a vegetarian, minus a piece of fish once in a while, but my friend is an austere vegetarian who admits that even she can't resist stealing a piece of bacon once in a while. Last week NPR explored bacon as a gateway drug. Why is this the meat that even hardcore meat haters find pleasure in? Scientifically speaking, it may be more our noses than anything else.According to SHOTS, NPR's health blog, the sizzling, salty, and downright decadent smell of bacon arouses our predatory instincts. Hardcore vegetarians even admit to carnivorous cravings for bacon.

Johan Lundstrom, a scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center says it's more than just the taste that arouses a vegetarian:

There's an intimate connection between odor and emotion, and odor and memory. When you pair that with the social atmosphere of weekend breakfast and hunger, bacon is in the perfect position to take advantage of how the brain is wired.

Lundstrom says that it's bacon's protein makeup and high fat content that swoon us as well. And the intoxicating smell of bacon is what in the end temps our taste buds because 90 percent of what we taste is a food's smell.

And in cultures where bacon isn't as widely used, other salty pork products take their place. TreeHugger writer Christine Lepisto says that in her experience as a vegetarian in Italy prosciutto is not considered a meat product and it's not uncommon to ask for a vegetarian soup or dish and find prosciutto in it.

But whether bacon smells amazing or not, it comes from pigs, a victim of a brutal factory farming industry. Most pigs don't roam freely but rather these 250-pound hogs are packed into tiny pens so that they can trample each other to death. Sad but true no matter how tantalizing that afternoon BLT.

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Tags: Vegan | Vegetarian