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Transitioning from Veg?

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  • Transitioning from Veg?

    Hey all. Next Saturday will mark 4 weeks Primal for me, and I'm going to up the ante.

    I've been vegetarian for 2 years, and pescatarian for 5 months. Since starting PB I've been eating an average of 2 eggs per day and a serving of wild-caught salmon, tuna, catfish, or talapia just about every day. I'm not really all that into fish, and I'm getting sick of it already. I'm remembering all the wonderful dishes I could make with chicken, and that enticing smell and crunch of bacon!

    I'm very worried that eating meat will not only be mentally challenging, but that it will create digestive upset. If I get sick or feel crappy after eating some meat, I'm likely to never touch the stuff again!

    I've already considered the most palatable options to start with, because chewing on a hunk of flesh just isn't appetizing after training myself to be disgusted by it. I'm thinking that some finely-shredded chicken salad would resemble tuna salad in texture, and I'd probably not be grossed out so easily. Also, the taste and crunchy texture of crumbled bacon over a salad is very appealing. I still have zero appetite for red meat. It always left me feeling heavy and slow, and the only beef cuts I really liked were filets and juicy ribs. Both are high-priced in the organic, humanely raised world... which I'm VERY particular about.

    Please share your thoughts or experiences on the matter! I've found a few threads that are similar, but please spare me the "just shut up and eat your steak!" responses. If I don't figure out how to do this so that it won't upset my mind or tummy, then I may be stuck eating fish and eggs forever

  • #2
    Some long-time vegans have trouble eating meat again becasue they are used to not producing proteases, the enzymes needed to break down meat. If you can already digest fish meat with no problems I don't see why you would have issues digesting red meat. The main difference between "white" and red meat would be their density and presence of myoglobin, which should be taken care of the stomach's acid and the proteases.

    Btw congrats for giving the PB the benefit of the doubt. I wish other vegetarians did the same.
    “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” -Oscar Wilde
    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw
    "The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." -Martin Mull


    • #3
      I watched my friend transition from vegan to omnivore. I would take it easy by introducing 2-3 ounces per meal until your body fully develops the enzymes to digest well. My friend found it easier to avoid simple hunks of meat (like a steak or chops) but instead put meat into flavorful dishes, chopped up very small: start with things like meat in tomato sauce, slivers of chicken with lots of veggies in stir fry or meat in stews and soups. Good luck. BTW, my friend's health improved dramatically (her digestive issues resolved and her hair stopped falling out).


      • #4
        I guess it's a good idea to take it quite slow. When I switched from Veg I was at the point of craving meat - I was literally dreaming about it at night! So it wasn't emotionally that difficult, but I did find it hard to digest at first. Actually, even until quite recently I've found meat or eggs and bacon left me feeling sluggish; but since cutting the carbs for some reason less so.

        Did you use Textured Vegetable Protein in your cooking at all? You could use a little of that 50/50 with some ground beef? Or maybe a lentil burger with a bit of ground beef.

        Curries could help disguise the flavour of beef which might allow you to get used to the texture, maybe cutting it very small at first.

        As you mention, chicken is quite bland so you could probably adjust to that most easily. Again flavourful sauces - a Thai or Indian curry, or maybe a tomato-based Cacciatore.

        Maybe some uber-thin slices of roast beef, as it is cut across the grain, would be easy to chew, and you could have plenty of salad and pickle with it.

        Good luck with your transition.


        • #5
          Meat or fish?

          I have been vegetarian for 20 years but I do allow myself to eat fish. I did try to eat chicken a few times on BBQ parties as nothing else was available with the result that i felt really sick. I love tuna steaks with lots of fresh salad and I feel both good and light after these meals.

          I am not clear on what difference meet would do to my diet? Would be happy to know...


          • #6
            Hey tabitha,

            I have a very similar background to yours... almost identical actually. ~4 years vegetarian, began eating fish, eggs, and dairy for about 6 months before I went Primal. I'm starting in on my 4th week of primal now and I'm thriving. Based on the length of time you've vegged and the fact that you are already eating fish and eggs, I don't think you'll have any issues with lack of enzymes etc that others have mentioned.

            My personal experience tells me that all my issues were up stairs, it sounds like it maybe the same for you. During my vegetarianism I was never delusional enough to claim that humans are not omnivores or that no one should eat animals. I had many reasons for being vegetarian but mainly it was that I refused to take part in the industrialization of animals and all the horrible things that it involves. I would have eaten meat if it came from the right places and was treated humanely but I assumed that it was more trouble than it was worth and didn't have enough benefit... so I just abstained completely.

            Anyway, more to the point - I learned as much about going Primal and Paleo in general as I could for a couple weeks before doing anything. I had to mentally reconcile where I stood. Eventually I decided I'd commit myself for 60 days and see how things went... but I jumped in with both feet, mostly...
            I decided I'd start with something small and tasty, a bit of jerky, to see how my body reacted and if all was well I'd kick things off with a treat... something to look forward to instead of something to fear and cause anxiety. Needless to say, my body liked the jerky quite a lot. Two days later I purchased a cast iron skillet and the best cut of meat I could find, humanely grass fed organic bison porterhouse steak from a local butcher.
            It was amazing! I think that because I had something so substantial and something that I could feel as good as possible about it eased a lot of my anxiety. I will will only eat meats that I know to be from the best sources possible as far as how they are raised, fed, butchered, transported, etc.
            My personal style with most things in life is to rip the band-aid off quickly - its really hard sometimes but almost always ends better. Maybe that isn't your style but maybe you can gain something from my experience none the less. I'm not suggesting you do anything you are uncomfortable with - on the contrary, do something you are comfortable with but try to realize that small steps may not get you where you want to be because it may simply prolong your mental anguish when, frankly... the mind should adapt to the situation, not the body. Try starting with something small and easy and then reward yourself with something substantial but something you think you'd really really like and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised... your body will thank you too.

            (I eat significant amounts of meat at most meals now)
            Last edited by lecz0r; 05-29-2010, 03:55 PM.


            • #7
              lecz0r, your situation sounds SO similar to mine! The only difference is that I'm not the "rip off the band-aid" kind of person. However, I see how this approach will keep me from dragging out the mental anguish and anxiety. There are three distinct reasons this transition is prematurely wigging me out... 1) The possibility of vomiting or having diarrhea because of eating meat, 2) Overcoming the gross-out factor, 3) Preparing for the social implications.

              I don't think many people realize the social aspect of reverting to being an omnivore. My vegetarian friends are going to be secretly judgmental, and they'll bombard me with questions. I've never given off that "greater than thou" vibe as a vegetarian, but some of my peers are definitely the preaching type. Ugh. My non-veg friends (and my entire family) are going to be really hard on me. I predict a lot of teasing, and "I told you so" attitudes. What they won't understand is that I'm not just eating ANY meat, I'm going to be damn particular about where it came from. I need all my strength to take this plunge!

              lecz0r, I also became vegetarian because I was upset about the inhumane treatment of factory raised animals, and I was financially unable to seek out good meat (I was living with my parents and paying off student loans). Mark and PB have made it clear to me that finding good meat is just a matter of effort and money, and I'm worth it! Thanks everyone for the responses. I've got some work to do mentally, but you all have convinced me that my tummy is nothing to worry about so long as I go slow and listen to my body.


              • #8
                Sounds like you need to gather some ammunition, tabithatoes! I heard mixed reviews of 'The Vegetarian Myth' but I was thinking of buying it anyway as it seems to be one of the best references for that sort of issue. I mostly just said 'oh, I'm still not happy about meat ethically, but I just couldn't get enough nutrition on a veg diet, I was tired and sick all the time. We're evolved to be omnivores after all'. But I didn't have any veg*n friends to contend with and the family are pretty cool.

                If people try to convince you that it IS possible to do really well on a veg diet, mention that while it might work well for (whoever example they've raised), some folks just don't - and you're one of those whose paleolithic genes need meat.

                They should be proud that you're an ethical person who thinks about the implications of their actions. If you didn't change, that would be inflexible dogma. But with new knowledge, you're making different choices - that's intelligence.


                • #9
                  I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for over 3 years at the end of high school, beginning of college, so it's been 10 years since I let go of that way of eating. I didn't have any issues at all switching, and my first meat meal was a "chicken" sandwich from McDonald's. But, I ate that way only because I believed it was a healthier way to eat, not because I had ethical issues with consuming meat, so I didn't have any psychological hurdles to overcome. Good luck, and enjoy the bacon!


                  • #10
                    Hah! It seems our similarities don't end there... I've certainly got social issues to deal with. To your points:

                    1) I'm no medical professional, but if you choose a quality meat, cooked appropriately, along with some healthy side veggies I really doubt you will have stomach issues. If anything, the most likely cause of such a thing would be your anxiety giving you an upset stomach while trying to digest a meal... but that can happen when you eat anything. I had a little bit of stomach adjustments when I first started and I don't have anything to back up this claim but I think it had more to do with *not* eating grain products as opposed to eating meat. All I saw was some grumbling after the first couple meals and some gas. (One of the major reasons I switched to Paleo was my realization that I was eating a disgusting amount of carbs in the form of breads, rice, oatmeal, etc and I cut it all out completely)

                    2) Not sure I have anything to help out here - I do not really find meat disgusting in any of its forms. But imaging that I did... it might help to research and learn about the details of meat - what it is, what its made of and why it is healthy when eaten. I tend to be very logic driven, so when I look at things in that context it takes the 'emotional attachment' away and then when you look at a piece of meat you can see it as a goldmine of nutrients that have nothing but good things. (Assuming its not CAFO, poorly treated meat of course =P) From a more emotional perspective, try thinkings about the circle of life... something must always die in order that another will live. This was actually important for me when I considered if I wanted to eat meat. I realized more strongly than ever that plants have just as much right to live as an animal... why is it better to treat a plant poorly and take its life to feed yourself than it is to do the same to an animal. Do animals have more right? If so... does a dog have more right than a cow? A chicken egg? You can't live on air. (sorry, starting to rant...)

                    3) I'm still grappling with this one myself. Basically I went ahead and became Paleo without involving anyone else and I've not told all that many people because I'm afraid of the repercussions also. I've told my parents and one friend/co-worker. I'm most afraid to tell a couple of veggie friends because I'm afraid that they will judge me poorly and because being veggie was one of the core threads of our friendship. I'm afraid to tell most other non-veggies because I used to give them a hard time (and still do) about being unhealthy and that they were making poor choices. When they confront me on it I think I'll just have to tell them to not be childish about it and I will explain myself and my reasons if need be - it doesn't mean I'm going to go do Arby's for lunch with them or that I think their 'Lean Cuisine' crap is any better. It helped ease things a bit with my parents when I made the focus about eating Paleo and not specifically about meat. Although I'm a little dismayed at their reaction to 'no grains' - maybe they think I'm just bouncing around from no meat to no grains - yet another whacky eating disorder. Oh well, I think I'll have some cannon fodder in 6 months when I can show them my before and after physique and improved mental wellbeing.

                    In line with SerialSinner's comment - well done on being open minded and sticking to what you believe is right. I've found that too many veggie folks are hard-line extremists that they won't even bother to investigate other possibilities, let alone TRY them out. If this does not work better for you in ~2 months... there is no harm in going back to vegetarianism. Eating meat for a short time will not send anyone to the hospital or make anyone an immoral person. I love your last line... listen to your body.
                    Last edited by lecz0r; 05-29-2010, 06:34 PM. Reason: spelling - im sure there are more


                    • #11
                      Helen in Oz, I've thought about reading the Vegetarian Myth to get better perspective and put my mind in the right setting. "But with new knowledge, you're making different choices - that's intelligence." That's a great line This is a learning experience, and my gut (no pun intended) is pointing me in a new direction.

                      lecz0r, The logic in your comments makes SO much sense to me! I've really come to terms with the moral issues behind eating meat, and I would feel just fine eating humanely and locally raised organic meats. In early veggie days I trained my brain to be disgusted by meat... it was my only way to really shun it from my diet. I'm using the same principle for grains, but since there's no moral issue with eating granola it's a struggle at times.
                      Every time I see meat on a plate I think of all those horror stories about animals being mistreated, abused, sodomized, and brutally slaughtered in factory farms. I feel like such an ass for thinking this way for so long! It's such a simple concept: Eating locally/humanely raised meat supports my cause. I've decided to go to the Tuesday farmer's market and check out the meats. Will let you know how this pans out!
                      As for my family, friends, and coworkers--they can shove it. I'm doing whatever feels right for me, and even if I'm onto something different every day it's better than being stuck in a rut!

                      Originally posted by SerialSinner View Post
                      Btw congrats for giving the PB the benefit of the doubt. I wish other vegetarians did the same.
                      There's never a right or wrong way... everyone has a different path. It seems that both omnivores and vegetarians can be incredibly closed-minded and judgmental. I'm with you--they all need to give it a rest and consider all the options!


                      • #12
                        I was almost vegan for a few years, and would often criticize friends and family (and everyone for that matter) for eating meat. Much of this attitude came from conditioning myself to fit into the vegan culture (at least those who I knew) who would raise their noses at meat eaters. After a while, I couldn't eat meat, not because I didn't enjoy meat, but I trained myself to believe that I didn't like it. It was not physical, but psychological just like a person who is trained to hate a certain race. Eventually the training manifested as a physical emotion and when meat was on my plate I would create a negative feeling so that I wouldn't eat the meat.

                        I didn't realize that I was doing this until I listened to a prominent motivational speaker who said that change happens in an instant. They said that either we make the change or we don't. I attached that concept to a number of areas in my life, and eventually added eating meat by deciding that it was not meat that was going to harm me, but the attitude I attached to it.

                        I can relate to your story.

                        Having said that, here is what I did:

                        Small amounts of diced meat in omelets
                        Ground turkey/beef/chicken etc in sauces
                        Steak was diced small in vegetables and sauces
                        Fish became something that I ate a lot
                        Small amounts of all meats in salads
                        Small amounts of bacon in dishes and so on.

                        Eventually I realized that if I were to continue eating meat, I would be best to thank the animal for giving it's life to fuel my body. So each time I were to eat a meal, I would approach it like the Native American tradition did and give thanks to the animal and all the other beings which gave their lives to fuel my body. This helped quite a lot.

                        Now, I am a meatatarian?!

                        I love the taste, texture, smell and most of all, the nutrition that it provides me. I no longer have the digestive issues that I had for so many years and I am at my highest level of health and wellness.

                        All in all, after many years of reflecting on my old self, I created many ailments based on beliefs and once I was able to overcome those negative beliefs, my life was much easier and more liberating.

                        I'm not saying that this is your situation as well, simply sharing mine so that it may help.


                        • #13
                          kmacphee thanks for that response. The part about change happening in an instant is really powerful! I've always made change slowly if at all, and it's always been a struggle. I'm jumping in with both feet, now!


                          • #14
                            kmachpee, that is very well put and it strikes a deep chord with my life story as well.
                            I suspect there are many in the same boat. I don't feel like this whole Primal thing has the elitist undertones that many veg*n circles do... but I think I'm safe to say that I hope more people see the light.


                            • #15
                              It seems to me that the Primal lifestyle is the exact opposite of the elitist vegan/vegetarian... there's no reason to put ourselves up on a pedestal. The results of eating whole, natural foods and exercising to our bodies' potential is evidence enough! As a vegetarian I just didn't want to support animal cruelty and suffering. I've learned that supporting local humane meat sources is by far the best way to reinforce my cause and beliefs.

                              Integrating meat back into my diet will be a slow process of learning what I like, what's affordable, and how to cook it. I'm always up for learning something new.

                              Being primal doesn't make me any better than the average joe... it just makes me happier, healthier, and stronger!