Wannabe vegetarians can fulfill their cravings using scent, rather than the real thing.
For anyone who's considered giving up meat but cannot bear the thought of living without bacon, there is a curious experimental solution available – a Band-Aid solution, one might even say. It's a patch designed to stick onto an arm and emit the aroma of sizzling bacon, in the hopes that smelling it will satiate the wearer without needing to take a bite of the real thing.
This bacon patch is a joint project between plant-based food company Strong Roots and an Oxford professor of experimental psychology, Charles Spence, who is described by the Telegraph as "a world-renowned expert in sensory perception and the tricks the mind can play on our sense of smell and taste." As counterintuitive as it sounds, Spence argues that scent can combat food cravings – and he must know a few things about this, because he authored a book called Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating. Spence said,
"Our sense of smell is strongly connected to our ability to taste, therefore experiencing food related cues such as smelling a bacon aroma can lead us to imagine the act of eating that food. Imagine eating enough bacon and you might find yourself sated."
There is no doubt that the meat habit is a tough one to kick – harder even than alcohol or tobacco, according to a recent study. And whether or not the science behind the patch stands up – which, based on personal experience, is hard to comprehend because I always want to eat more bacon when I smell it – there is something to be said for having a visual reminder of a pledge to give up meat that can help hold a person accountable, either to oneself or to people around. It's sort of like having a sticker on a forehead that says, "Please help me stay on track!" It could be a success for no other reason than that.
The bacon patch was trialled this past weekend in several locations across the United Kingdom, and if they worked well, Strong Roots intends to supply them to people wanting to go vegan or vegetarian.
Would you wear a meat patch if you were trying to give it up or does it seem too gimmicky? You can share thoughts in the comments below.