If your friend has easily transitioned to a green diet while you’re struggling, there could be a reason for that.

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Some People May Be Genetically Programmed to Be Vegetarians, This Study Says

Staff Writer
Cornell researchers have found a genetic variation that allows those living in vegetarian-heavy populations to stay healthy

Could there be a greens gene? We usually think of eating vegetarian as a religious, health-conscious, or moral choice, but according to research from Cornell University, there could actually be a genetic predisposition to a vegetarian diet.

A differential allele (an alternated gene form) has been found in populations in East Asia and parts of Africa that allows people to “efficiently process omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and convert them into compounds essential for early brain development.” In layman’s terms: if your ancestors were mainly vegetarians, the code in your DNA is altered to allow for vegetarianism without negatively impacting your healthy lifestyle.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 is mainly found in fish and meat, respectively, so a genetic code that allows non-carnivorous eaters to more efficiently break down those nutrients could be vital to a nutritious diet.

Researchers have found a similar allele for seafood in the diet of the Inuits in Arctic Europe and North America. The Inuits subsist on a diet of mainly fish, so this genetic abnormality makes sense.

“One implication from our study is that we can use this genomic information to try to tailor our diet so it is matched to our genome, which is called personalized nutrition,” researcher Kaixiong Ye, co-lead author of the paper, said during a presentation on the new research.