Do Meat Eating Animals Smell Differently Than Plant Eating Animals?

I’ve often wondered if meat eating animals smell differently than plant eating animals. And if so, can meat eating animals tell if other animals are plant eaters or vegan?

A 2006 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health examined the effect of meat consumption on body odor attractiveness in humans. Male participants were on “meat” and “non meat” diets for two weeks during the study. The results showed that the body odor of the men on the non-meat diet was judged as significantly more attractive, more pleasant, and less intense. The study suggested that “Red meat consumption has a negative impact on perceived body odor hedonicity.”

vegan animalsWith that in mind, this brings me to my story of snakes, and in particular, rattlesnakes. Most snakes have a fantastic sense of smell. According to Wikipedia “Snakes use smell to track their prey. They smell by using their forked tongues to collect airborne particles, then passing them to the vomeronasal organ or Jacobson’s organ in the mouth for examination. The fork in the tongue gives snakes a sort of directional sense of smell and taste simultaneously. They keep their tongues constantly in motion, sampling particles from the air, ground, and water, analyzing the chemicals found, and determining the presence of prey or predators in the local environment.”  

Now, I haven’t had a lot of experience with rattlesnakes. As a vegan I have to say that I love ALL animals. However, I have to say that I am somewhat fearful of rattlesnakes and wouldn’t want to get really close to one! I’m just fearful of getting bit, or worse yet, having one of my dogs get bit from one.

vegan animalsSo one day this spring, we took our (vegan) dogs on a beautiful hike near our house.  At the trail’s exit was a short paved blacktop driveway, where water company trucks pulled in before the trail turned to dirt. My dog, Cassy, stopped to smell something on the blacktop and I heard a “pssst” (like when someone wants to secretly get your attention). I looked down at the end of the leash and saw Cassy smelling the head of a perfectly coiled rattlesnake!!!!  The snake was expertly hidden in a little pothole located on the blacktop driveway. A brilliant place for a rattlesnake to be! Before I could even react, shout, scream, pull on Cassy, etc…………Cassy happily decided she was done smelling and off we went. My husband and I both saw what happened………..and we looked at each other in disbelief……….deliriously happy that Cassy had not been bit.

As a vegan and plant eating animal, did Cassy smell differently to the rattlesnake than a meat eating animal? Did the rattlesnake know that Cassy meant no harm, and did the rattlesnake know that Cassy was VEGAN? Believe me, this is something that my husband and I have pondered since this happened. It’s an interesting concept to think about…….if animals actually know if other animals are vegan. I haven’t been able to find any studies on this phenomenon. Animals have a superior sense of smell, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were able to tell the difference.

Comment via Facebook

About vickicosio

Vicki Cosio is a nationally ranked athlete, 15 year vegan and vegan cookbook author of Peruvegan: Easy, Cheesy, Cozy & Creamy Vegan Peruvian Recipes. Check out Vicki's cookbook here. Vicki's passion is to promote veganism, by being an example in her sport and in her cooking. Vicki is featured on the Great Vegan Athletes website and she and her recipes have been featured in Vegan Health and Fitness Magazine.
All articles by