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BBQ odor for Vegetarians

Got an odd thought that I would love Hounds to chime in on please.

First, the question.................

If you are a lifelong Vegetarian, does the smell of barbequed meat in the air such as a neighbor's yard or a restaurant cooking it's wares become a a pleasurable smell to you? Inquiring minds want to know!!!!!

I have been a Vegetarian for two years, after being a big meat eater/heart surgery patient . Though I do not miss meat, and always wanted to be a Vegetarian, I have no overwhelming desire to eat it. That said, I catch that smell on the passing wind as I leave my gym after working out. It eminates from a restaurant, or a supermarket deli counter's exhaust hood roasting chickens in the strip mall, or someone's yard. And that always get me to thinking. If you grew up without that food odor connection, is that a good smell to you? Obviously I can't be objective. So I put it out there for you to express an opinion. I look foward to the discussion. Thanks all for participating.

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  1. Hi there :) I went veg 10+ years ago but still grew up on the family summer BBQ. I wasn't much of a fan of meat (especially steak) as a kid because as I always complained to my mom, "It takes too long to chew." Once I eliminated meat from my diet for personal/ethical reasons, I never thought back. I do notice that I appreciate certain smells (probably due to their association with my childhood memories. I have heard, however, of some vegetarians getting physically ill from the smell of meat.

    1. I haven't eaten meat or poultry in 25 years. Bacon still smells pretty good to me, as does grilled steak and roast chicken. But the smell of burgers, hot dogs or lamb chops makes me queasy. Common denominator? None that I can determine.

      3 Replies
      1. re: small h

        I have several friends who are hardline vegans. It confuses me that they eat things that are meat flavored. They eat vegan "chicken" strips, corn dogs, sausage, etc. etc.

        1. re: Paul Weller

          Presumably their reasons for choosing a vegan diet are not that they don't like the flavor of meat, so they enjoy foods that seek to mimic those flavors and textures.

          In answer to the OP, I haven't eaten red meat in 20 years, so I can't answer your "lifelong" question, but I will say that I love the smell of barbecue (that is, slow-smoked barbecue from a 'cue joint, not meat grilling in the back yard).

          1. re: Paul Weller

            I eat fake meat, myself, and the reason won't confuse anyone. I like the taste & texture of (some) fake meat, and I don't like the taste & texture of (any) real meat. Which is why I don't eat tofu hot dogs - I find them too hot-dog-like.

        2. My ex SO's dad has been (non-vegan) vegetarian since birth. Grilling meat, which smelled delicious to me even after 8 years of not eating meat, did not smell good to him at all. It didn't make him feel ill (he's lived in the US among carnivorous heathens for many years); it just didn't elicit the "mmmm" reaction.

          1. I believe Aroma rather than Odor might be a better description, at least for this seared flesh lover. A soap plant or oil refinery
            emits an odor. Just sayin' :)

            2 Replies
              1. re: bbqboy

                Thinking along those same lines, and thought I'd scroll through to see if anyone picked up on it. Perhaps BBQ or grilled steak is a "fragrance'?? but aroma probably captures it better. I can smell it now!!!!

              2. That's a question I can't answer, but I do have a neurological perspective. (I apologize in advance for the simplistic answer...)

                Smell is, evolutionarily speaking, a very, very, old sense. Most senses are processed through a part of the brain called the thalamus, but smell goes directly to the limbic system, which also involves emotions. It's why smells so strongly bring back the emotions attached to the smell. Smell has a "very" strong connection to the foods to avoid or consume, so it makes sense for it to be a primitive one.

                So even if a vegetarian doesn't eat a food, a smell associated either with nutrition -- or even more strongly, good childhood memories -- can evoke a positive response. I don't know if the smell of meat is "hard-wired" to be attractive, but even if it is it would be something that can be overcome -- hence how the smell of meat can evoke a negative reaction as well. The stonger the emotional rejection of meat could lead to a stronger negative response to the smell of it.

                Just some thoughts.

                1. I went veg at 10. Now, 20 years later, I love the smell when I'm not confined in a small space with it. A passing whiff, an open-air restaurant, etc.

                  I'm weird though - I quit because I never liked the taste as I was growing up - meat never, ever appealed to me. At times wish I could go back and I try, but it still just doesn't TASTE right (we travel a lot and I HATE being a PIA in the Bahamas or islands where pretty much all I can eat when we eat "out" is french fries and grilled cheese).

                  That said, when the large lady next to me on the plane opened a family size bucket of KFC, I nearly gagged. But I do love BBQ smell.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: alexajord

                    UMmmm yes processed fast food -blech! To me that is an odor, not an aroma!

                    1. re: alexajord

                      I was a vegetarian for about 3 years, around the age of 20. The aroma of meat was a real turn-off for me in general during that time, although there were also a few instances where I could really have gone for a burger... BBQ had a tempting smell to me as well, from time to time. IMO, KFC smells artificial no matter who is eating it. I wonder why you make mention of the lady's size in your comment? How is that relevant?

                    2. when i started being veg in high school, and just recently stopped because of personal health problems myself (i had to go see a nutritionist, and things) ... i realized that the scents were what drew me in...

                      but an easy way to get past that, is that i started doing a lot of home cooking, with fresh veggies and garlic, and other scents... and started to associate the smells with various cravings, so it wasn't as bad when i was out somewhere where i couldn't eat, or if i passed a bbq!

                      1. Working on the whole vegetarian thing. I don't thing I will ever not like the smell of roasting meat, but that's fairly visceral. It's a smell I equate with home and comfort. I just can't eat it right now.

                        1. i was veg for 7 years, eat meat now, cook for veg & non-veg folk and strive to be sensitive to veg issues.

                          a lot of it depends on how close the quarters are. a sizzling meat platter in a teeny restaurant which fills the air with "aroma" makes many veg people queasy. an outdoor bbq is a different thing, especially because much of the "aroma" comes from the aromatic hardwoods-- hickory, applewood-- pleasant for everyone!-- kind of like the scent of a cigar smells great to nonsmokers in the great outdoors, but in a car with the windows rolled up--not so much.

                          interestingly, a lot of carnivores enjoy the "aroma" that emanates from a crematoreum-- smells like hot dogs--as long as they don't realize what it is.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: soupkitten

                            "interestingly, a lot of carnivores enjoy the "aroma" that emanates from a crematoreum-- smells like hot dogs--as long as they don't realize what it is."

                            Folks, we have no idea whether this is true or not, but this subtopic is off topic for our boards. Since soupkitten's post is otherwise on topic, we're leaving it up.


                            1. re: The Chowhound Team

                              everybody: i'm sorry i was a little gross in my post, i was not meaning to be offensive.

                          2. I went veg in 2000 and really don't like the smell as I know it is the smell of burning flesh - if I ain't gonna eat it I don't really wanna smell it...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: jbyoga

                              When I have some veggie type friends who come over for some BBQ. I will put on some firm Tofu blocks on the smoker away from the meat and they turn out nice and smokey. After a few beers they taste like chicken. I really don't like the smell of charred flesh either , but hickory smoke is something else.

                              1. re: fishfry

                                Wish that would work here. My poor DH has a deadly soy allergy. Know what soy is in? Everything. Dag-nabbit.

                            2. I haven't eaten red meat or poultry since I was ten, 16 year ago. I go to BBQ parties every week in the summer and the chicken and burgers smell really good but I have absolutely no desire to eat them. I grill lots of seafood, mushrooms and fruit. I think the smell of BBQ meat brings back happy memories from my childhood.

                              1. I grew up vegetarian (lacto-ovo) and absolutely love the smell of cooking bacon and bbq, yet have zero desire to eat it.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                  FINALLY a first-person response to the OP!

                                  Does the smell of cooking meat trigger a Pavlovian response (eg salivating, gurgling stomach, hunger) for you?

                                  1. re: ricepad

                                    Strangely, no, but man, it sure smells great!

                                2. Haven't eaten meat in 9 years, the smell of bacon cooking, or roast chicken still gets me from time to time, but again, the thought of eating it, grosses me out somewhat (as does lately, watching someone chew something off of bone, but that's another topic...i haven't figured that one out yet, lol). BBQ smell is equated with summer, and really mostly what you're smelling could be the sauce. Everything smoke-flavored appeals to me more in recent years.

                                  I have to say, the smell that sometimes lingers after a meat-based meal is cooked in a smaller kitchen, does not appeal to me...It's "moo-ey".

                                  1. 20 year vegetarian - barbecue with the sauce smells great to me but for some reason roasting/grilling plain meats smell awful. Must have to do with the carmelization of the sauce. (And I never liked meat much growing up - I am kind of a natural-born veg. The only meat I ever miss is bacon).

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Snackish

                                      I've been vegetarian for 22 years now (since I was 16), and I have no desire to eat meat. In fact, I'm sure that if I did I'd be sick. But there is just something about the smell of barbecue. Maybe it's that it smells like summer, maybe it's because it smells like the "great outdoors", perhaps it's that it doesn't quite smell like meat, but more like a memory, I don't know, but that scent still makes me hungry.

                                      In response to Paul Weller, above, as someone said, many people go vegan no becaus they don't like meat, but for the ethical/personal reasons. But I can also say that meat analogs don't really taste like meat anyway. True, it's been an awful long time for me now and I'm not sure I could actually tell the difference, but as I recall, fake meat is nothing at all -- in any way -- like actual meat. It's just a good texture addition, and an easy way to get protein.

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