I live in a household of vegetarians, but not from my influence. The youngest never enjoyed the texture of meat well before she knew what a vegetarian was. The others came to their own views from the outside world. I still eat meat, but usually when on the road, so I guess I’m a flexitarian. Anyway, whenever the vegetarian vs omnivore discussion comes up, I have never heard the “odour card” played.
In a small study of men who either ate meat or a ‘non-meat’ diet for two weeks it seems that the ladies preferred the aroma of the vegetarian men. Seventeen young men had either a vegetarian diet for 10 days or ate 2 x 100g serves of red meat daily for 10 days. They weren’t allowed to use deodorants or aftershave or anything that gave a non-human smell, nor could they eat foods like garlic, blue cheese or fermented fish (this study was done in Prague, Czech Republic). However, they were given non-perfumed soap.
Near the end of the specified diet period they had to wear a cotton pad in the armpit for 24 hours, under a fresh new cotton T-shirt. Great lengths were taken to avoid any potential background odours. Within an hour of collecting the cotton pads 30 young ladies were asked to rate the body aroma of the men. The aroma of the vegetarian men was rated as more pleasant, more attractive and less intense.
It wasn’t clear if the odour difference could be over-ridden by offering good quality chocolate to the ladies.