Meet the real Vegan Police.

Monday, June 4th, 2012

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So I was bouncing around from one story to another on the science/fiction website io9

[If an alien invasion really happened, we’d be dead instantly: I would love for Joss Whedon to make this movie! (See e.g., The Cabin in the Woods); The 10 Most Depressing Alternate Realities From Marvel Comics: at least #6 has a happy ending!]

when I stumbled upon this gem: A tick bite could turn you into a vegetarian (appropriately filed under “Holy Crap WTF”). Discover Magazine reports on the work of immunologist Scott Commins, who’s been studying the link between ticks and allergies since 2009:

Warning: A walk in the grass could turn you vegan. Scott Commins at the University of Virginia has shown that tick bites can cause the immune system to produce antibodies to alpha-gal, a carbohydrate in beef, pork, and lamb. These antibodies can induce allergic reactions to meat. “We’ve had people nearly die,” Commins says.

Noting that you won’t know that you’ve developed an allergy until you exhibit a (potentially deadly) allergic reaction, io9 columnist Robert T. Gonzalez offers the following advice:

In any case, the next time you’re walking barefoot through a field only to find a tick between your toes, remember to be careful the next time you eat meat — your body may be on a self-destruct mission to kill all alpha-gal.

Or, you know, you could just not eat meat. Tofu > anaphylaxis, am I right?

The Vegan Tick Police is #13 in a list of twenty curious facts about allergies. Item #16 also gave me a good snort.

16. When your pets can’t stand the itching, can they send you to the pound? Human dander can cause allergic rashes in dogs and cats—and in other humans.

If only.