People all over the United States are unwillingly becoming life-long vegetarians due to a meat allergy spreading around the country. The allergy, called alpha-gal, forces people to give up beef, lamb, and pork in hopes of avoiding some pretty harsh suffering. What’s the cause of the involuntary transformation? A copious amount of research is pointing the finger at the species of tick pictured above, the lonestar tick.
The meat allergy causes victims to have a severe anaphylactic reaction roughly 4 hours after eating meat. The reaction involves hives, elevated blood pressure, and even potentially fatal breathing problems.
Although alpha-gal, is most prominent in the southeastern region of the United States where the lone star tick thrives, reports of the allergy are also springing up in regions like Hawaii where the lone star tick doesn’t even exist. It could be that residents of Hawaii and other regions where the tick does not rear its meat-hating head had been bitten by one of the ticks while traveling to tick infested regions.
Because the reaction takes 4-6 hours to develop, many people do not realize that it is meat that is causing their body to hate itself.
Stanley Fineman, an allergist and president of American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) explains that:
It takes 4 to 6 hours to see a reaction, so many people don’t correlate that to their meat, or hamburger or something. It’s easy to miss.
Allergy researcher Thomas Platts-Mills of the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville began looking into this premise for a Twilight Zone episode after being bitten by a tick himself and developing the allergy. He and his team were able to confirm in 2011 that it is in fact the lone star tick that is causing the alpha-gal allergy.
I hate to downplay the seriousness of this allergy, but is this really that bad of a situation? Eating less or no meat would not only solve many environmental and energy problems, but numerous health problems as well. As I read through the comments of people who have been afflicted by this allergy there seems to be a near unanimous agreement that all of their lives became better and their bodies became healthier due to dropping red meat from their diet. An allergy that makes you healthy and improves your life; doesn’t sound so bad to me.