Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
1 Sep

How to Eat Meat: Transitioning Away from Vegetarianism

Picture1 3As you all know, I have a number of vegetarians in my life, and there are many present and active in our MDA community. I empathize with the thinking that goes into their commitment, but I choose to eat meat and obviously encourage others to do the same for the sake of optimum health. I get a fair amount of emails from vegetarian readers who want to reintroduce meat into their diets. Although they see the health benefits of reclaiming omnivorism, they’re hesitant about the transition itself. Have they been herbivores too long? Will they really be able to follow through? The Primal mind is willing, but the flesh remains unsure. I’ve found their concerns generally fall into four areas that I’ll label taste, digestion, morality, and psychology. For all the vegetarians out there interested in rejoining the omnivorous side, let me take up your concerns and offer some Primal-minded suggestions.

Taste

Some vegetarians after many years are still nostalgic for certain meats (bacon seems to be the most common), while others have entirely lost any semblance of craving. Maybe they’ve managed to satisfy their taste for umami so well, they learned to live happily without any meat source. Alternatively, they may have vehemently talked themselves out of the taste long ago.

Faced with the interest in reclaiming meats’ nutritional benefit, they wonder how to rebuild a positive relationship with their estranged fare. We are, all of us, creatures of habit, and we tend to lean toward the familiar. As hard as it may be for meat lovers to understand, giving up a food group for years (and in some cases decades) means wholly disengaging from it. One’s associations with meat may become apathetic at best and full-on revulsion at worst. One reader worried because he’d come to hate the smell of grilled meat that wafted through his neighborhood from the corner restaurant. “If I can’t even take the smell,” he said, “I wonder how I’m ever going to stand the taste again.”

Readers will undoubtedly have good advice on the subject, but let me offer a few suggestions to ease the taste transition. It goes without saying (except I’m saying it) to take it slowly. Use small bits of meat (shredded or ground) as filler in what are already favorite dishes. Add a bit of shredded lamb to a ratatouille. Include small bites of chicken or shrimp in a Greek salad. Throw a little ground beef in a veggie stew.

Alternatively, let someone else do the cooking for a while. Make your first forays in a restaurant. Look around the room and see what other people are eating. Go with a visually appealing dish or something that just sounds good on the menu. Bring an experimental mindset. If the restaurant thing doesn’t do it for you, ask some meat-eating friends to share a couple of their best dishes. Host a potluck. Aim to try as many things as you can. Who knows, Mikey might like it.

Digestion

Beyond the scope of mere aesthetic appreciation, many vegetarian readers share a trickier concern. They worry – either because they’ve heard they should or (in some cases) they’ve experienced trouble in the past – that their bodies can’t digest meat anymore. Let me say there’s a lot hooey thrown around on this issue.

Do I suggest a 10-year vegetarian reignite his meat-eating lifestyle with a large t-bone steak or a blood sausage? No. But I think there’s a way for just about anybody (there’s probably some random outlier somewhere) to integrate meat again if they take it slowly enough.

Most of the clamor revolves around stomach enzymes. People declare their stomachs simply don’t produce meat digesting enzymes anymore, and they’re forever confined to a plant-based diet. Most of the time I hear this claim coming from people who’ve been vegetarians for five years or less.

This is one of the those times when I wish I could point to a group of studies and say, “See, there’s really no need to worry that a few years has selectively demolished your digestive profile.” Unfortunately, I have yet to come across any particular study with this focus. (If you know of one, please send it my way.) Nonetheless, reason and experience can often tell us what scientific research can’t. While long-term, strict vegetarianism or veganism can possibly lower the production of certain protein-directed enzymes, it shouldn’t be enough to halt it, let alone undo the genetic potential one has to produce them.

That said, I can see why people don’t want to jump in the deep end of the pool right away. Some people, particularly if they’ve been vegans or vegetarians for many years, do experience digestive upset during the first few days or weeks of including meat again. (Similar in some way to a sugar-burner turning fat-burner during the low carb flu period.) Rest assured it doesn’t mean you’ll always be plagued with nausea. In my experience, most people who take it slowly say they have little to no digestive issues during the transition.

Nonetheless, here’s a modest proposal for easing back into efficient meat digestion:

  • Start with good gut bacteria. Incorporate fermented foods, and go with a probiotic supplement for at least a few weeks before and after starting meat again. A healthy gut environment sets the stage for optimum digestion (among other benefits of course).
  • If you’ve had digestive issues with meat before, try broth, particularly bone broth, for the first week. It’s good nutrition, and it might be easier to handle. Continue broth until you’re ready to move on to solid meat.
  • Eat meat or fish alone, and don’t eat again for a few hours. (Be sure to eat it earlier in the day rather than at night.) Allow plenty of time for digestion and stomach emptying if you want to gauge how it will make you feel.
  • Use a marinade that contains an acid like vinegar or a natural meat tenderizer like the bromelain in pineapple.
  • If you experience ongoing problems, try a short-term course of HCL or enzyme supplement.

Morality

I’ll admit there’s no sugar coating the basics. Yes, it was an animal and – unless you forage for roadkill – it died to become food. As bad as a person may feel about this act, it’s the way of life of course. Nature isn’t a gentle, magnanimous force. We evolved to eat both meat and plants, regardless of what some people say. Meat eating (particularly after cooking was added to the mix) was a significant boon to our species. Yes, we can live without it, but we live better with it.

All that said, I can understand many people’s discomfort with the modern meat industry. In a fitting correlation, the livestock practices that produce the healthiest meat also tend to be more humane and less environmentally destructive overall. It’s not a perfect scenario, but it’s a better one.

These days it’s possible for most people to find more humanely raised, pastured meat either within driving distance, through local co-ops and buying clubs, or by direct mail. If local stores don’t offer what you’re looking for, research the area farms and natural buying clubs available to you, and check out direct farm to consumer mail order options. You should be able to find out how the animals are raised, what their diet is, and even what facility handles the slaughter and processing. Consider the facts, weigh the financials, and choose the best you can.

Then there’s always the do-it-yourself approach. As unappealing as killing an animal must sound, the option provides the best chance to ensure an animal has had as natural a life (and humane a death) as possible. Some people fish for their dinners or raise their own chickens for this exact reason. Raising a small herd of cattle or sheep is obviously more complicated, but I’ve known a few folks who do it. People also hunt, of course, for this among many other reasons. I’ll admit that I’ve done a mental 180 in recent years around the hunting issue. There are of course hunters who are cruel and irresponsible, but friends and MDA readers (among others) have helped me see how hunting – when done with respect and skill – offers a humane and even reverent way to relate to the animals we eat.

Last, take a look at opposing views on the ethics of eating meat. As Denise Minger recommended in her Ancestral Health Symposium talk, Let Them Eat Meat puts forth some interesting arguments. And Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth is highly recommended.

Psychology

Oftentimes, people’s emotional reservations are caught up primarily in the previous factor. Sometimes, however, there’s another level to the aversion – a heebie-jeebies kind of feeling. It’s more common in people who have been vegetarians/vegans for many years or who focused on the “repulsive” fleshly aspect of carne to maintain their commitment.

At some point, of course, you just have gird up your loins and sink your teeth into some. Some vegetarian readers have told me they try to ignore the meat in the dish. They tell themselves – in vain – that it’s just another ingredient. Their efforts to disconnect thought from sensory experience ends up making the situation worse. The flesh is all they can think about.

Although I can see why they would want to put it out of their minds and just do the deed with as little thought as possible, maybe the opposite approach is in order. Fire up the grill or, better yet, campfire. Give the occasion its primal due. Make a ceremony out of it. Think about that animal and all it offers to you now. Think about your ancestors and what they sacrificed through the ages to achieve basic survival. Toast them all. Celebrate the choice you have to indulge today. Eat with your hands. Feel the meat’s life-giving energy, and relish its connection to what’s essential and wild. After all, we’re all animals at the end of the day.

Thanks for reading today, everyone. Have you made the meat-eating transition? Know someone who has? What’s helped (or not)? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. You could always eat insects instead :)

    And mollusks. And then there’s fish and bird eggs. And dairy, if you wanna go there. The least meaty food I’ve ever eaten has been lamb testicles. Doesn’t really taste (or smell) like anything. Plus, they’re theoretically excellent sources of K2.

    To paraphrase the Discover Magazine article about the Inuit, “there are no essential foods, only essential nutrients.”

    Antispirit wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • Where and when did you eat lamb testicles? I’ve enjoyed beef liver and chicken gizzards and heart. I want to dive into more offal but… testicles?

      You say its less meaty but I can guarantee you that any and all vegetarians would rather eat steak over testicles!

      Primal Toad wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • …dive into offal..

        Erik wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • testicles AKA prairie oysters – from castrating the male lambs I’ve never had any though.

        alex wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • yeah, and you’re not even murdering anything!! Haaaa!

          nikki wrote on September 15th, 2011
      • I know some Asian shop here have it in Ireland where I live. Haven’t had the “balls” (sorry for the pun!) to try it yet.

        Aggie wrote on September 2nd, 2011
        • Where abouts in Ireland are you?

          It’s hard finding other like-minded people here!

          Dave wrote on September 3rd, 2011
      • Hey Primal Toad,
        If you stay in Chicago area, every fall (I think) either suburban Harvard, IL or Huntley has an annual Turkey Testicle Festival. I have never been but know people who have. Maybe that is something you might find interesting. Plus it’s fun to say Turkey Testicle festival.

        John wrote on September 2nd, 2011
    • Sorry, but…what??? If one has a hard time managing white chicken breast, that nasty insect “crunch” is sure not going to be palatable.
      I am a long time vegetarian. I was always fussy with meat growing up until in college I just said “no more.” HOwever, I guess I am now “mostly” vegetarian, since reading this website the last few years, I will periodically try meat. If I take white chicken that’s been in a crockpot,the saute it a little in coconut oil and add spices I can eat it…for a week or two at the most. Then it’s over; it’s just too gross. Also, yesterday I posted about needing to recover fast from a sugar binge and the first two responders both prescribed bacon. I did get some and make it…and I enjoyed it…but when I cooked the other half of the pack this morning, it was a little to”porky” for me.
      I continue at this site because I learn a lot from and try to incorporate primal in other ways. I don’t believe that eating meat is wrong…but factory farming is. It is way cheaper to eat a really healthy vegetarian diet than a healthy (grass fed/finished) omnivore diet. And please don’t tell me it can be just as cheap as I am a single parent with five children to feed (3 teenage boys in the mix)and there is just no way,
      I do appreciate this article, though, Mark and I look forward to reading the rest of the responses.

      Milemom wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • :-) good luck with your “progress” in eating meat…. i was once an almost-vegetarian, but never could give up seafood. perhaps that’s where you should concentrate your efforts? especially the less-pungent white fish, well-marinated in citrus, which takes away a lot of the “fishiness”. very yummy with rice, and oriental-sauced bok choy on the side (i’m making myself hungry, writing it…)?

        tess wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • I’ve avoided fish most of my life because of smell and taste. However, since going paleo/primal I forced myself to eat fish and shellfish for the benefits mentioned on this site. I’ve found that catfish with a little seasoning cooked on the grill to be tastey with no fishy smell/flavor.

          Gorillaboy wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • Some people just aren’t into red meat. I’m one of them, but you can do so many things with chicken, it’s hard to get bored. Never mind those Chicken Thursday commercials… ;)

        Try putting chicken into a stirfry with veg, making a stew or baking veg and chicken in the oven. Experiment with different fats and spices and see what you like.

        Lisa wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • I’m struggling with the same issues. Sometimes I can eat meat just fine, other times I just can’t stomach it.

        I grew up on a small farm where we raised our own animals for meat and eggs. It put me right off meat for most of my life.

        DeeDee wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • I totally feel your pain. I never really liked meat, it’s flavor, texture, smell. I never craved it. It was very easy to become a vegetarian. I loved beans like nobody’s business. I crave beans, but not meat. I was a vegetarian for 22 years and I am just starting the Paleo life. I started with canned tuna in a salad, moved on to shrimp and other mild fish. Recently, I have found boneless,skinless, chicken breasts. Take it slow and mix it in with other things you like. I still have trouble with turkey, go figure. It gets better with time as your palate gets more used to the different flavors. I am lucky to have a mother that is a great cook and she has helped me by cooking for me at her house and bringing it over. I have problems with the smells of cooking meat. Her incentive is that she hasn’t seen me this healthy in years. I wish you luck with this and much health!

        amyduc wrote on November 17th, 2011
        • I too was a 22 year vegan ( except honey) until I continued to become so I’ll I was close to hospitalization and so much stress. My doctor said he felt thru Gestalt methods I rally required an animal protein. I declined after my b12 and frolic levels were strangely normal. But I continued to get sicker. I stopped gluten and my migraines of many ears dissapeared and I got on thyroid medication. Still very I’ll. Then I started the same as you, tuna salad , eggs , and now white fish. Nothing else so far and I still do not do dairy. I have moral and ethical dilemmas on this subject of meat but know that I have made a full recovery n a matter of weeks after several years of debilitating sickness. It is so confusing but I feel and lived these results. I am so grossed out by meat and eggs still but I think they have saved my life. I am only 40 and ate organic for those 22 years and very healthy . Just thought I would share..

          Kristie wrote on August 17th, 2012
        • I’ve been vegan for seven years. I live in India and it’s very easy, esp. cooking. (At restaurants, unfortunately milk-based products dominate vegetarian menus.) Then last month I took a trip to Europe and didn’t have the time to hunt for vegan food. So I decided to eat meat. Just like that. I chose to eat meat and veggies, rather than wheat- or milk-based products which I believe to be unhealthy. So, for those two weeks, I made a clear choice b/w my health and the environment. I was amazed how easy it was. I felt no guilt, and I had no digestive problems except the problem apparently well-known to the Primal community — instead of generous poop everyday, I had to struggle to poop once at the end of nine days. Everything else was fine. Then I came back to India and went back to veganism. I felt strange, seeing the cows wandering the streets here, that I’d actually eaten one of those. And then seeing the chickens in the coops outside chicken shops. It wasn’t guilt, so much as feeling, “They’re so much like me — if I eat them, I might as well eat my arm” it felt odd to have eaten something so similar to myself, something with eyes and a head and limbs. Anyway I think eating meat is perfectly natural, but not environmentally sustainable today. So, I won’t. Also, meat/fish taste pretty tasteless to me. And very salty. I don’t mind the smell, but it’s all for nothing. That’s probably partly a matter of habit. I enjoy excellent health on a well-planned vegan diet (except for bloating), and I’m not switching. I have found many principles of Primal very useful, however. Thank you Mark!

          Agnassi wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • We’re experiencing a bumper crop of grasshoppers in my garden. Mark did a short piece on eating insects not too long ago but I’d be interested see more info/recipes.

      Lauren wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • Nice! My nephew is Thai and they eat bugs all the time. I’m going to try them next time I visit, only problem is they’re usually fried in vegetable oil.

        Peggy The Primal Parent wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • My 17 year old daughter just got back from a week in Thailand, and she talked about how you could buy bags-o-bugs to snack on. She ate a cricket herself.
          I wish we could buy bags-o-bus here. Salted that would be a good snack to watch a movie by.

          Dave wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • I ate so many grasshoppers in Thailand, they are soooo good. Don’t forget to remove the bottom part of the back legs before indulging though.

          Sylvie wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • eewwww, vegetable oil!

          pixel wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • The bugs sound fun– the veggie oil does not! Perhap ‘gift’ your nephew some coconut oil ;)!

          El wrote on September 2nd, 2011
        • Thai-style fried bugs are awesome. I was raised totally vegetarian and the worst thing about meat for me was the texture. Reminded me of my own muscle and tendons. Fried bugs are nothing like mammal flesh. Just pure crunch, with chili and nampla :)

          Dawn wrote on September 3rd, 2011
      • Grasshoppers are yummy when dumped live into cooking oil (coconut is a good choice) and lightly crusted with some almond flour. Spice to taste.

        I recommend putting them in the freezer for several minutes to make them dormant/inactive before dumping them in the oil. Otherwise they can hop out of the pan before they get properly cooked.

        AFAIK they are like lobsters in needing to be cooked live.

        Uncephalized wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • Lobsters don’t need to be alive, just fresh. You can kill them instantly (bifurcate the head with a sharp knife) right before cooking.

          joe wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • same here i’ll try ‘em…grashopper.

        Dasbutch wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • IF YOU WANT NUTRITION TRY KIDNEYS.

      AARON wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • Are y’all tryin’ to scare off the vegetarians or what?! Grasshoppers oiled alive in oil and kidneys?! LOL!

        Robin wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • I`m vegetarian because it helps me focus in meditation every morning. Also become vegetarian to save the world. When you consume meat the energy required to produce the meat is big. We should consume less meat and thus consume less. Concerning trophic levels humans are on the top. We rely on many things to live. I`ve only been vegetarian for about 2 years now. It`s important when being vegetarian to not be too picky otherwise you become weak. A little bit of animal protein is okay, but having a powerful meditation is really fun too and that comes with eating no animal protein for a while! I won`t lie it`s hard to be vegetariation. I like the argument. It`s good and healthy let`s countinue.

          John Hatanaka wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • I was vegetarian from birth. When I transitioned to meat-eating, I found kidneys and liver particularly easy to get accustomed to (much to my carnivorous boyfriend’s dismay).

          The reason: I had mentally prepared myself for meat-eating by psyching myself up to ingest the nutrients. Kidneys and liver taste like a power-pack of nutrition!

          Dawn wrote on September 3rd, 2011
  2. I was a vegetarian once for about half a day. I couldn’t do it. Meat is too big a part of our society. Amazingly enough though, I never had trouble giving up grains….huh.

    One of my weight loss clients recently started eating meat again after several years of being a vegetarian. Her biggest issues with starting back up were psychological ones, which can be one of the toughest hurdles to overcome. She is eating meat but still struggling somewhat mentally with it. She’ll get there though.

    Primal Recipe wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • “I was a vegetarian once for about half a day. I couldn’t do it.”

      Roflmao…’about half a day’…I fell off the chair. /applause

      Issabeau wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • It’s been about three years for me. I’m still struggling with the guilt of eating meat.

      It helps when I catch the seafood myself, or buy local meat from the farmer who has picture-books of her animals.

      I also like wild meats (we get rabbit, venison, etc. here in New Zealand) because I can imagine the animal living in the wild, building up the muscles I’m eating — which will be used to build up my muscles.

      The stronger my psychological connection to the animal I’m eating, the less guilt I experience.

      I always thank the animal out loud as I’m eating it. Reverence and gratitude offset the guilt.

      And I like to eat every single edible part of whatever I buy. That means sucking the marrow out of the bones, cooking up the fish heads, etc.

      Dawn wrote on September 3rd, 2011
  3. I really could have used this article two weeks ago. After 17 years as a vegetarian, I’m now testing how adding meat back into my diet will affect me, especially my brain functions. I plan to go until the end of September and then figure out where I want to go with it.

    I have recently lost 50 pounds by modifying my vegetarian diet to almost eliminate bread & wheat, using only brown rice instead of white, and cutting way back on the cheese. My visit with the doctor yesterday shows that I am still diabetes free, even though it runs rampant through my family. I’ve always credited my vegetarian diet and more than average but not as much as I’d like exercise routines with keeping me healthier.

    I will say that my experiences with cheese should have informed me that too much fat can be a problem for some people. I had some troubles with gas when I ate too much, leading to an increase in anxiety symptoms. I think your advice to slowly add meat back in is very wise!

    Ron Helwig wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • It may not be the fat in the cheese that’s the problem for you. Or you might just need a dose of NOW Foods super enzymes. And brown rice, while better than wheat, is not as good as white rice if you consider the anti-nutrients. Keep reading, researching and experimenting, and good luck.

      Wes wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • It most likely isn’t the fat in the cheese. Check your tolerances for milk proteins… you may be allergic or have an intolerance.

      Rich wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • I agree with Rich. It might be that you’re intolerant to milk, and not fat. I was vegetarian for only 3 years, but my first omnivorous meal was a nice, fatty, skin-on chicken thigh and leg, and I had no problems at all. Try experimenting with other fat sources :)

      Reiko wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • From what I have read, pastured, raw milk does not induce milk intolerance. Perhaps you should try cheese made from raw milk.

        I don’t think I’ll be eating any insects soon, but the pus (up to 30% of content), antibiotics, hormones, etc. in factory dairy as well as the same, plus tumors, etc. in factory meat – just won’t get on my plate, ever.

        Gregory Lowrey wrote on March 21st, 2012
  4. I went from being vegan to eating eggs and shellfish, to eating local humanely-raised meat. I only did so after I visited a farm near us to see exactly how THEIR animals were raised for meat. I still only get meat from local farms I can visit myself.

    Oddly enough, I never had any problems transitioning back to an omnivorous diet digestion-wise, even after a long time as a vegetarian/vegan. I am very sensitive to gluten, and my daughter is very sensitive to soy. It just made sense to add it back in, and honestly I felt my body craved it.

    My first meal back to eating meat was boeuf bourguignon, thickened with chickpea flour (before I went primal), since I could only afford two cuts of grass-fed meat–stew meat and ground beef. It was fantastic. I highly recommend going all-out on a fancy/tasty meal.

    Celia wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • I never experienced digestive problems transitioning to meat either. My digestion actually improved when I went off grains and meat.

      For perspective, I was a LONG-time vegetarian. I had never even TASTED animal flesh until age 17, and it wasn’t for another decade+ that I actually sat down to eat a whole portion of meat.

      Dawn wrote on September 3rd, 2011
      • My digestion improved when I went off grains and *DAIRY*. Sorry.

        Dawn wrote on September 3rd, 2011
  5. Usually I come across ‘how to go vegetarian’ tips… I loved reading your tips though. I made the switch to meat about a year ago after nearly 3 years of being a vegetarian. I found out about my gluten intolerance and pretty much instantly decided I would no longer not be eating meat and gluten… just too restrictive for me. For me it wasn’t too hard because I had been having cravings, and have always loved the smell of barbecuing and meat to be honest. Since I no longer felt strongly about being a vegetarian, when I did decide to eat meat it was fairly easy for me. I ate turkey on Thanksgiving… it was super dry and I was kind of annoyed that I had “given in” to something so tasteless. But now I eat delicious beef and bacon and all is good in the world again. Eat quality meat if your making the transition! The taste is worth it.

    katie wrote on September 1st, 2011
  6. I am so blessed to have eaten meat my entire 23 years of life…

    I hated fish and seafood till just 1.5 years ago. I also hated steak for a number of years. This was because I thought it was going to kill me. And, I always got it well done which made it hard to chew!

    Thank you primal life!

    Primal Toad wrote on September 1st, 2011
  7. Start with bacon, it seems to be the “gateway” meat for many vegetarians before moving on to harder carnivorous pursuits.

    At least that’s what got an old vegetarian girlfriend of mine to start eating meat again.

    Bjarni Tryggvason wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • Bacon, huh? Seems counterintuitive. Fatty, salty, etc, but hey as long as bacon makes its way in to the diet, who cares if it’s first or last.

      steve wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • Fatty meats are supposed to be the best for you. Salty foods are also supposed to be good. It is the nitrates and other chemical additives that make bacon bad. But if I had my choice I would go for Canadian Bacon instead of bacon strips. And always, organic, pastured only.

        Gregory Lowrey wrote on March 21st, 2012
  8. Here is a tip… Eat chicken!

    My old sister is NOT a fan of red meat because of the blood. She will eat chicken, even if it was treated wrong, and loves fish, even raw fish.

    She just can’t get over the blood! She will eat it once in a great while but this is very rare. And, when she does, it must be cooked well done. At this point its not really worth it, ya know?

    I am guessing the blood freaks out millions of other vegans. So, why not start with fish, seafood and poultry? Eat eggs too.

    Be patient. You don’t have to start eating beef every day in the beginning!

    Primal Toad wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • The juice is red meat is not blood. All the blood is removed during slaughter. It’s just water in the meat mixed with the protein myoglobin. Chicken doesn’t have it becuase it has such low levels of the protein. Maybe that will help your sister.

      kate wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • I have a friend who won’t cut up meat with her bare hands and will not even touch it until it’s over-well-cooked. She is not a vegetarian but the juice grosses her out so much its almost like a phobia! I only mention that I cut a piece of liver and she will gag. It’s kind of weird and funny.

        Aggie wrote on September 2nd, 2011
        • Haha. I have known people like this with very low disgust-thresholds for meat. Since we started feeding our dog raw, I have completely ceased to be grossed out by almost anything. Now reading something about cooked meat “juice” just makes me laugh!

          Heather-Lee wrote on September 6th, 2011
    • Find out what it is about meat that turns you off the most, and work around that.

      Human-flesh-like texture? Start with sashimi and shellfish. Or really, really crispy bacon. Or fried bugs! :)

      Blood? Go for something white. Or something that is *supposed* to be cooked through! (NOT bloodless, overcooked, shoe leather steak).

      Moral dilemma? Get to know and love your source. Respect and appreciate the animal. Make friends with a free-range farmer or a hunter.

      Dawn wrote on September 3rd, 2011
  9. While I wasn’t vegetarian before going primal, I didn’t eat a lot of meat. I can say that I feel so much better now that I eat meat daily. I have energy and just all around better moods.

    Yes, I have had to set aside some of my heebie-geebies with some cuts of meat (liver, tongue) but I am getting there. It’s amazing how much my mindset/attitude plays into my feelings.

    All in all, I say, “Go for it”!

    Happycyclegirl wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • One more thing–I had a harder time composting all my beans of which I had an extensive collection. I fretted over that for quite a while before I finally took the plunge and put them in the compost.

      Now I have all sorts of room in my cupboards for other things! :-)

      Happycyclegirl wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • I’ve still got a collection of dried and canned beans! Composting is a great idea. I looked for a food bank or other charity to donate them too (there are fewer of those here in the UK than in the US) but the ones I found would only accept — get this — “baked” canned beans (yes, the ones with all the nice sugary tomato sauce!).

        Sigh. But thanks for the composting tip! I know what I’ll be doing over the weekend.

        Karen F wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • I just stacked up my canned beans under the sink with bottles of water as part of our emergency kit.

          Now the rest of the kitchen is free to be filled with real, fresh, perishable food.

          Dawn wrote on September 3rd, 2011
      • I soaked / sprouted all my beans and fed them to the chickens!

        Carole wrote on September 2nd, 2011
    • Nice post. I study something togehur on different blogs everyday. It would always be stimulating to read content material from other writers and follow a little bit one thing from their store. I’d desire to use some with the content material on my weblog whether or not you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link in your net blog. Thanks for sharing.

      Sallinstra wrote on December 20th, 2012
  10. when people are transitioning to vegetarianism sometimes it is suggested to draw inspiration from classic Chinese cooking, which often used meat as a seasoning rather than a major component. I think this would work nicely in reverse as well!

    For example…mabo dofu (you know, the very, very spicy tomato/garlic/tofu dish) is often perceived as a “vegetarian” dish. But the authentic recipe includes a small quantity of shredded (or ground/minced) pork.

    (…goes off thinking about making mabo dofu again…this time with less tofu, more pork, more chili, more coconut milk, over cauliflour rice! Yummm!)

    Karen F wrote on September 1st, 2011
  11. I transitioned from lacto-ovo vegetarian (over 7 years) to primal without a hitch. I just started eating meat, and that was that. No stomach issues or taste problems. I did have to discipline myself about meat-handling since I had never lived on my own and cooked meat (“no, that cutting board goes into the sink…now!”), but that was about it.

    The only real challenge that I have is that ethically I refuse to eat anything but grass-fed local stuff, so I’m limited to meat from a co-op. When I eat out, I still eat vegetarian since very few restaurants meet my standards. I only eat out a few times/month, though, so it’s not a big deal

    Beowulf wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • I also was ovo-lacto for 10+ yrs. I started with a piece of salmon. Then a tuna steak. then a friend cooked a nice piece of elk for me as a “welcome back to meat eating!” treat. then I had my daughter & son-in-law over for sunday breakfast the day I brought bacon back.

      As a side note: I guess I like lamb’s kidney more than my dog does? who’d-a thunk…

      peggy wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • I’m curious about elk and rabbit. My friend had elk burgers at her last party… when I was out of town. :(

        Lisa wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • My dog doesn’t like kidney either, unless it’s been half-buried in the yard for 5 days. Then he likes it just fine, and I’m glad to let him have it.

        Uncephalized wrote on September 1st, 2011
  12. This was a sensitive and balanced post — thanks Mark. A vegetarian/vegan for 16 years, I recently made the switch back to eating meat. While the decision is still tricky for me, it has been a little disarming how easy the actual transition was.

    I find that getting closer to the source of my food is actually helpful, oddly enough, and the first thing I cooked was a roasted chicken from a local farm. I even find I like my steak on the rarer side!

    jp wrote on September 1st, 2011
  13. Most vegetarians that I have met didn’t eat meat because as they told me “I as killing sweet innocent little bambi” which I usually laugh about….I agree lots of animals are not treated well in the food industry.

    Which is why I am happy to have grown up in a hunting family (a good one) I learned from an early age about hunting dear, about using all the parts (half my family is surround in the Native American culture) and my husband’s family are also hunters. We all hunt for food, not just because its fun and a sport. Yeah its great to be outside in the Fall, learning to track deer or birds. But the reward is a freezer full of all natural wild game!!! I like that!! Gives us the control over our food!

    Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • I’m completely on the same page! My husband and I (and both of our families) have always hunted. He chooses to go the more traditional route, with a bow. It’s nice to know where the animal came from, and how it was handled, as we do all of our own butchering. Being responsible is the key. I’ve had people tell me they are disgusted that we hunt, but I have to remind them, we don’t EVER want to see an animal suffer. We prefer animals who’ve lead healthy, happy lives.

      Lindsey wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • My significant other has been a vegetarian since he was 16 because, although he had hunted and slaughtered animals on a farm before, one day he would just not take the shot. He decided that if he was not willing to kill his own meat, he would not eat what others have killed. I respect his decision (it’s been over 30 years), but I know he would have made one heck of a carnivore. (he’s got one of those billy goat stomachs)

        Milemom wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • I totally get where you significant other is coming from but let me ask him this. Does he raise all his own vegetables, fruit, and grains? Make his own bread? Make all his own clothes?

          You get my point. We often rely on others to provide what we can not or are not willing to do.

          Sharon wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • Common for that to happen at that age.

          Dave wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • The idea that you have to kill your own animals if you are going to eat them is just vegan moralism thrown up as an obstacle to healthy eating. The sad thing is, people who take that requirement to heart are likely to cause MORE suffering until they learn how to do it right. While I am capable of killing an animal for a good reason (and have put down a few animals that were hit by cars) I’d rather leave the slaughtering of my food to professionals who are really good at it.

          Lark wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • I always find it interesting when people think that if you kill an animal through hunting that it is somehow more humane than a production feed lot or CAFO. How do we really know?

          I am a hunter and I do it because I enjoy it and I know it is a healthier food source. I also like being more responsible with regards to the food I eat. Whether or not it is more humane, I think, is pure speculation. In the CAFO’s, animals don’t have to fear for their lives until the day they go down the slaughter line. In the wild, those animals fear for their lives every day. I don’t know what is more humane. On the flip side, you could argue that animals in the wild have a more ‘full-filling’ life than an animal in a CAFO.

          I know that I have missed the mark on a clean kill bow hunting before, where the deer ran for a good distance and I had to do a good amount of tracking. Did that animal suffer more or less than the production-line style kill in a CAFO? Probably more, but who knows. In the end its healthier, its enjoyable, and I do believe it’s more responsible.

          I have had people give me ‘that look’ when I tell them I hunt. They somehow forget the meat they buy was once a living animal….they conveniently forget that part. I always try to remind them of that :)

          Mike wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • @Mike: (For some reason, it wont let me reply directly to you). I don’t think wild animals fear for thier lives everyday. Again, personal opinion (same as you) but when I observe deer and elk (albeit for scouting purposes), they seem very happy, at ease, comfortable, relaxed, etc. I also hunt because I feel its a better food source, as well as because its kind of a tradition. But I do honestly feel that a deer or elk or bear is significanly “happier” than a cow in almost any living situation. ALMOST… I will totally admit that the range cows where I hunt seem pretty durn happy :) At least until my dogs try to herd them away from the cabin.

          Lindsey wrote on September 1st, 2011
  14. I was a vegetarian for more than 20 years. Going back to eating meat gave me a lot more energy and a lot less depression. I had no stomach issues but like Beowulf had to learn how to handle meat in the kitchen.

    For me, it was easiest first eat chicken in small amounts in curries. From that I moved onto other types of chicken and pork dishes. Beef never appealed until I tried marinated, thin-cut beef.

    Cathy M wrote on September 1st, 2011
  15. I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for about 18 years before transitioning to Primal in the last year. I started with white fish, like mahi-mahi…honestly, it wasn’t that different from tofu. The first time I tried to cook salmon, though, the pink color really kind of grossed me out. I probably spent about three months eating fish or shrimp three times a week before I was brave enough to start trying more “meaty” meats.

    One thing I highly recommend is to start with meat that OTHER people have cooked. This is for two reasons: 1) it’s easier to handle the meat if it’s already been cooked in sauce and you don’t have to see it raw; and 2) it’s safer to eat meat cooked by people who are familiar with food safety rules (as Beowulf mentioned above).

    When I first started eating red meat, I would have just one bite off my husband’s plate. Sometimes I would have to close my eyes if it was too meaty. Fortunately, it was always fine, and I never had any digestive problems with anything I tried. When I started cooking red meat for myself, I started with less “animal-looking” types, like ground beef or pork sausage. Even today, though I have a pork loin marinating in the fridge, I still have to work up will power to trim off the fat or cut meat into pieces. I just tell myself it will be done soon, and then I try to enjoy the flavor of what I cook. So I would say it’s definitely still a work in progress.

    Virginia wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • ha-ha! I guess I had an unfair advantage over everyone else – I’ve worked in the food service industry for over 20yrs. so I got my food safety down! I was also known as the vegetarian that cooked a really good steak :)
      Now I’m building a reputation for my primal creations…

      peggy wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • Trimming the fat?! Don’t do that!!!

      Robin wrote on September 1st, 2011
  16. Being vegetarian or vegan does not make you healthier. I know a few families that have chosen this lifestyle either for religious reasons or humane reasons. Now in their elder years, they have medical conditions either the same as meat eaters or more problems. I don’t respect a vegetarian or vegan because of religious reasons, especially Christian, for the fact they are distorting scripture. I don’t respect the other group for humane reasons, for the fact that they think a domestic cow or chicken could survive in the woods if we set them free. But I do respect a person who just doesn’t like the taste of meat and never makes a podium before sitting down to eat. Thats fair enough. I don’t like brussel sprouts because I hate the taste, so I just don’t eat them.

    Lee wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • A friend of my sons dad is a vegan for religious reasons. Last year he just had his first heart attack at about 51. Still a vegan. Can’t save people from themselves.

      DB wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • Until I was 13, I lived in Iowa (cow on every corner) and Omaha, Nebraska where you used to drive right through the middle of the stock yards to get downtown. Meat was plentiful, quality cuts and cheap, and I loved it. Later in my early 20′s I became a vegetarian, due to religion (the Mormon Word of Wisdom) even though none of the other (million at the time) Mormons I met followed that counsel. I spent 31 years as a strict vegetarian, the last 25 as a mostly raw food vegan. (several years 100% raw). Same for my wife and our six children. After 31 years, our immune systems just fell apart and I felt like I was 40 years older (and sickly, and fragile) than I was. All the people eating McDonald’s seemed to have tons more vitality than I. It was very frustrating and my solution, like many vegans was to decide I wasn’t being “pure” enough and to go back to 100% raw. Didn’t help. We left Mormonism in 2002, but didn’t even consider changing our diet back. While I was out of town, my wife (who had secretly been studying Paleo) decided to try an egg. That was the end of that. We started including Raw Pastured Organic Dairy (milk, cheese and eggs)about a year ago and it was no problem. We don’t drink milk, but do make kefir and yogurt and eat that daily. I had some bad nerve damage which improved very significantly within a month. We have been trying to eat, again only RPO meat, every day for the last 8 months and it has been very hard. We gave up at about 5 months. It was just too offensive and tasted and smelled awful to us. After about a month off meat, we decided to try again and finally a couple weeks ago it started to appeal to us and we both have found ourselves daydreaming about eating meat. (what a surprise) I notice that all the TV chefs use a lot of spices in their meat dishes. Rather than recommending transitioning vegans to go to restaurants (who use factory meat), I would suggest they try using health-enhancing herbs and spices in their meat dishes. Also, as we study paleo, and a great book about the science of fat “How We Get Fat (and what to do about it)”, it appears that fatty meats are the best – especially for healing, and the fat sweetens the meat while cooking. My wife visits cooking blogs with high readership and checks out those meat recipies. It works pretty good for us. When she used to cook lean meat ungarnished, the smell drove us out of the house. I also think that the wilder the meat, probably the better it would be for us, but have yet to try some. Eating even expensive organic, pastured meat and dairy once a day with some fibrous green vegetables actually costs less than filling up on carbs – and we are getting well, feeling more energy and just a better sense of well-being. I never really related to the PETA style vegans, but I do know that being a vegan for Jesus made it so no science could sway me. I mean who can argue with God??? I am so glad that my getting out of Mormonism eventually allowed me also to return to my Natural diet – the one my body was created to utilize. It has been a hard journey, but we have hope to recover from all those years of destroying our health by eating what we thought was a superior diet. Religion almost killed us. There is simply no dietary need for carbs. They ony make us sick and fat. My wife started a FB page (since she couldn’t find one) to help recovering vegans. https://www.facebook.com/groups/351657658209672/

        Gregory Lowrey wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • Can I say how AWESOME your photography is????! I love this and yes, I agree that rlnopssibey farmed and butchered meat is definitely good to eat! (Love how that rhymes). Very good references in this post too. And thank you for not killing your meat by cooking the life out of it. Very nicely done Sanura! BTW tried commenting 2x over the past week or so on previous posts but was not allowed (comments were disabled).Chef and Steward recently posted..

          Stefania wrote on December 20th, 2012
  17. On the psychological side, I was interested that Mark said, “Give the occasion its primal due. Make a ceremony out of it. Think about that animal and all it offers to you now.” This is very much in line with the mythic world view/cosmology of some native American peoples (Joseph Campbell has written movingly about this in a number of his books). When I lived and worked in some of the atolls of Micronesia I noted a similar sense in respect of fish…and also when it came time to kill the family pig for a major feast/festival.
    If you use every part of the animal, if you kill humanely, if you give thanks and absorb what the animal was and what it offers, you honour the animal. When we die, we too will (ideally!) be consumed by the earth and its creatures. It’s all a circle.

    Karen F wrote on September 1st, 2011
  18. I was a vegetarian for 10 years and shared those same concerns Mark mentioned. I started the transition with seafood on a vacation in Mexico when I was 23. About a year later I added chicken. Another two years later I added beef.

    I didn’t digest it well at all. It wasn’t until I gave up grains that the reflux went away. Probably the whole reason I went vegetarian when I was 13 was simply that I wasn’t digesting it properly and my body was telling me not to eat it. What I should have cut out was grain, but 20 years ago I hadn’t heard of that.

    The psychology was tough to get over at first. I believed that animals had rights and feelings or whatever. I believed that death mattered. I don’t think that anymore. We’re all animals. Our bodies need what they need and we fulfill those needs as nature (evolution) prescribed. Death comes for all and it’s really not a big deal.

    Peggy The Primal Parent wrote on September 1st, 2011
  19. I’ve noticed a lot of people in the blogosphere raving about a primarily raw meat diet. I love steak tartare but am worried about E.Coli, Salmonella, etc. It would be interesting to get your opinion on this, Mark.

    Lauren wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • i’m not Mark, but i get (from all my reading in paleo/WAPF blogs) that if your digestion is reasonably healthy, there’s no problem eating properly prepared raw meat and fish. you’ve already got e-coli in your intestines, you know! :-)

      tess wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • And the fact that e-coli goes crazy in the guts of grain fed cattle. Their digestion becomes very acidic which is great for e-coli. Eating wild or grass fed is best for raw.

        Peggy The Primal Parent wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • Raw liver (grassfed and organic of course) is supposed to be fantastic for you. I eat a bit whenever I cook up a pound.

          DB wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • If I remember correctly, in the Weston Price based book, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, for eating raw meat the book said that freezing the meat for something like 14 days would kill the bad stuff. Check out the book for exact details.

      Ellen wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • It’s my understanding that this only kills parasites, but that’s a start!

        Krista wrote on September 1st, 2011
  20. One of my primal friends and I were recently talking about how it seems like the Primal Blueprint looked as if it has been increasing the focus closer to vegetables instead of meat. Earlier on in PB, there was a lot of favoritism towards meat-eating, and that eating fruits and vegetables were supposed to be a part of that. It’s nice to see meat getting some more attention today. Though each person may require their own “mix” of meat/plants, I think meats should ways take the front seat to fruits and vegetables. But I have played devil’s advocate to myself and wondered, “If Grok was hunting and came upon a flourishing, fruit-producing plant on his left, and a wandering deer on his right…which would he go for?”

    I can see both sides of this as I would think if he were hungry, he would go for the plant and build up his energy. However, if he were intelligent and thought himself a good hunter, he would remember where the plant was, hunt the deer, and get the best of both worlds.

    Has anyone else seen the slight move from mostly meat/some plants to increasing plants over meats, or is it just my friend and I?

    Chris wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • I can’t say for sure, other than Mark has always emphasized his Big Ass Salad. I can tell you this; I still visit the veg/vegan sites and they can match all of the glowing accounts of restored health, glowing skin, and fat loss that I find here. However, those vegetarians are the ones who really emphasize lots of veggies, legumes, and whole grains… and avoid the processed grains, grains milled into flour, and fake soy food. Mark himself has stated that his vegetarian wife and son are healthy (although he wishes they ate meat)and it seem to me that there is more than one way to achieve vibrant health. I think eating all foods in their natural states (not necessarily raw, just not processed)will get you where you need to be.

      Milemom wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • There seems to be a little confusion here regarding what my wife and son eat. My wife is NOT a vegetarian. She eats fish nearly every day, eggs almost every day and has some form of whey protein in a shake in the event she feels she needs to top off protein. The fact that she doesn’t like the taste of red meat doesn’t make her a vegetarian. Yes, she was for a while, but realized she needed better protein sources and has eaten this way for well over ten years now.

        My son eats a plant-based diet, but also includes eggs, whey protein, and some forms of cheese in various dishes. He uses butter and whole cream liberally when preparing his own meals.

        Mark Sisson wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • My bad, I meant to say pesco-vegetarian for your wife…but I didn’t say they were vegans, so egg, dairy, and whey was assumed.

          Milemom wrote on September 2nd, 2011
    • I have noticed that vegetables are promoted quite heavily. It seems that vegetables are supposed to be the main part of a meal, with the rest being some form of protein coming from animals.

      Being of nordic descent, this doesn’t work for me at all. After 1.5 years of being primal I finally ditched vegetables and instead of cream with berries in the morning I now consume bacon and duck yolks and pour extra lard over it all. This did the trick of getting rid of my ever-bloated belly.
      Vegetables are FULL of indigestible fibers, which keep fermenting and fermenting and building up gases, and more gases until they finally reach the colon to be (hopefully soon) eliminated from the digestive tract, where they had no business to be anyways.

      I now follow a close-to NO fiber diet as much as possible instead of trying to load up with plant matter that I have no stomach for. I leave that up to the goats and cows…

      Issabeau wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • Same as above. And I’ve never felt better.

        Aggie wrote on September 2nd, 2011
        • haha. raw vegetables also disagree w/ me (constipation or the worst type is “constipated diarrhea”)

          i dont’ consider salad real food. i usually only eat cooked (or fermented) vegetables (i’m Chinese) for medicinal purposes or as dessert (after meal) or snack.

          regards,

          pam wrote on September 10th, 2011
  21. I tried that nonsense once for a few months. I thought it would be so healthy and I would be so very much better than other people. The first meat I had after breaking the spell nearly gave me an orgasm. Pastured bison, mmm. I don’t just mean of the taste buds either, there are so many great amino-acid derived molecules in good meat, vegetarians have no idea. Carnosine, carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, glutathione (if you eat it raw or minimally cooked). I was even supplementing with the vitamins and minerals I would be short on and meat still made me much healthier.

    Plain and simple, most vegetarians probably didn’t eat very much meat, and they didn’t eat the best kind of meat, and they have no idea what they are missing. Get some fatty pastured ruminant meat, don’t cook it too harshly, and cover it in spices.

    Stabby wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • Some did eat a lot, then reach the teenage years, get idealistic (especially females) and decide to go veg*n as their way of rebelling.

      DB wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • I wonder if the decision to go vegan is intuitive, as internal hormones are going crazy, plus all of the environmental estrogens out there….minimizing CAFO beef and pork means minimizing toxins & endocrine disruptors in the diet.

        The fact that CAFO meat tastes like crap tells us at the tip of our tongue that its bad for us. If that’s all that’s available, its logical (although wrong) to assume that all meat must be unhealthy.

        fitmom wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • Honestly? The girls I’ve known who went vegetarian did it to stay skinny. The whole fat-makes-you-fat theory taken to the extreme. Irony is, in college it’s hard to get good whole foods and a lot of them ended up gaining weight.

        taihuibabe wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • All of the young females I know have gone veg due to idealism. They all were already skinny (as rails, in fact). But young girls are typically more prone toward idealism and so they fall for veg propaganda that they are somehow helping the planet or being nice to animals or whatever. And there’s no convincing them with facts. My meat comes from a totally self sustaining ranch nearby. They grow their own hay and the cows graze on natural grasses. No pesticides touch that property. No hormones are used. The manure naturally fertilizes the land. It’s its own little ecosystem. But no, it’s MEAT so it’s EVIL, period, and should not be consumed by anyone. And if you do, you’re just not clued in. Because you see, they are the enlightened ones. You are just a silly mortal, letting “meat rot in your intestine” (another falsehood that no amount of facts will be enough to convince them otherwise.)
          So I sit back and eat my cow. More for me.

          DB wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • Yeh, that happened with my daughter when she was 15. It lasted right up till i grilled some burgers.

        bbuddha wrote on September 1st, 2011
  22. After being brought up as I vegetarian by my parents, I first tasted meat when I was 31 (a year ago now) and I have to admit, once I’d had that first bit of chicken I couldn’t stop craving it! For a while I had complete meat-lust and I couldn’t get enough. When I moved on to red meat I did have a few stomach issues, beef always gave me stomach ache, but I took it slow and waited for my body to adjust; I figured that if I craved it so badly my body must really want me to eat it. Now I feel that life wouldn’t be the same without bacon! I think my story pretty much pooh-poohs the idea that your body can’t produce meaty enzymes if you don’t eat it for a while as my body didn’t start for 30 years. As for the psychology of eating meat, putting it in my mouth was a bit of a problem at first after years of parent guilt-tripping but, without getting too Disney, we are animals and it is the circle of life.

    Andrea wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • Love it, Andrea! Your story is so similar to mine.

      There is so much talk about RE-introducing meat into your diet, or RE-joining the omnivorous side as Mark says.

      There must be many of us out there who vegetarian by default (and guilt-tripping) and NOT by choice … who haven’t even considered that meat might be the key to solving their life-long health problems. I honestly had no idea!

      (I always wondered why I couldn’t grow long, strong, pretty fingernails like all my friends…)

      Dawn wrote on September 3rd, 2011
  23. Would people stop talking about the circle of life and the natural way and crap like that? These are horrible horrible justifications for anything, it is the naturalistic fallacy and morons throughout history have used it to justify all sorts of terrible things.

    Plenty of vegetarians are reasonably healthy, not optimally healthy but they consider the fact that they really truly don’t have to take the lives of animals if they choose not to, to be a good reason to not kill them. Circle of life, natural way of humans? But it kills animals and YOU DON’T HAVE TO AND YOU WON’T DIE IF YOU TAKE SUPPLEMENTS. It is also natural to cheat on your spouse when it would have propagated your genetics better, but that doesn’t make it right to do.

    Honestly, guys, this is embarrassing, stop using that argument. I don’t think that if animals are raised well and aren’t in much pain during their lives that it is then a bad thing to eat them, the vegetarian argument is a bit of an unsubstantiated non-sequitur with regards to killing an animal, and that is what you need to tackle. It really isn’t wrong to kill an animal to eat it, that is just an assertion that people give in to because they are intellectually lazy. It is wrong to kill humans because it undermines the reciprocal social contract that all should take part in to secure their security and liberty, and animals can’t take part in that so there is no rational reason why a human shouldn’t kill and eat an animal. But we might not want to make it hurt too much. When the assertion is made that killing an animal is wrong, simply point out that while there is ample rational reason to not kill humans for the sake of one’s society and thus one’s security and liberty, there is no rational reason not to kill animals, plain and simple. The vegetarian then looks like a moralizer and finger-wagger, and has no grounds upon which to stand.

    When you go the naturalistic fallacy route you are saying “well that might be true that it is killing an animal and that would be bad, except it’s natural so I get to do it anyway”, and you just look like an idiot. There is no good reason not to eat pastured animal products and the vegetarian argument is weak, so topple it, don’t bend to it and then make weak excuses once you have.

    Stabby wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • Many animals die providing vegetarians with food. Supplements (which ones really help anyway?) are unnecessary if you are eating healthy, naturally raised meat and dairy. Being a vegetarian felt great for the first 6 – 10 years. Then the health problems began. We were very strict. Organic, home-made, no sugar -etc. I think recognising the “natural circle of life” makes a lot of sense. Our bodies are designed to be omnivorous, there is no moral issue about eating meat. Being a vegetarian does not prevent animals dying and in the end you end up sick. I agree with the comment that people who have been vegetarians less than 5 years are all gung ho. After that, they are wondering what they are doing wrong – and usually take a remedy in the wrong direction. I feel so guilty about the damage I have done to my children and grandchildren by raising them vegan. Every day I have to face the reality that we may never fully recover.

      Gregory Lowrey wrote on March 21st, 2012
  24. I was a vegan for over 15 years, but a healthy vegan, not a candy-eating, french fry eating vegan but a vegan who ate very very healthy. I went back to animal proteins as I was so underweight and anemic on a vegan diet, and couldn’t gain weight to have a healthy pregnancy until I started eating animal products again. My transition back to eating meat and animal products at first wasn’t easy. Lots of stomach upset, constipation, overly full feeling. I would like to suggest at the beginning to eat small amounts of meat mixed in with vegetables, for example a green salad with tiny bits of chicken breast, or a veggie stir fry with small amounts of fresh shrimp. Also straight eggs were harsh on my stomach, so I’d suggest one egg scrambled with a lot of veggies, such as stir fried spinach and mushrooms. A friend of mine has free range chickens and her eggs my stomach tolerates easily, but commercially mass produced eggs make me sick to my stomach, so for me organic is the way to go. I’d start with one animal-protein meal a day for several weeks or months until your body gets used to it. I’m a full-blown carnivore now and much healthier for it.

    MichK wrote on September 1st, 2011
  25. I like the concept of eating meat (especially after hanging out on this site). But I’ve NEVER liked the taste, even as a small child.

    There have been times where I’ve eaten unknowingly eaten something with small amounts of meat in it and immediately reacted with, “Ohhh… this tastes bad” (long before I realized the bad taste came from meat).

    On the one hand, I think it’s the fat that I don’t like… never liked fatty things, including butter and oil, either.

    On the other hand, even lean meats don’t taste good to me.

    All that said, I do eat eggs. I started eating some dairy recently. Whey protein is a staple over here. And I began eating fish. Interestingly, I don’t like the taste of bottom feeders, or mollusks… and canned fish is the most disgusting thing EVER.

    I just wish fish weren’t so damn expensive (and of course, my favorite is full of mercury).

    Steven wrote on September 1st, 2011
  26. I always find the philosophical argument against eating meat because you are killing a creature, rather misleading. Rarely do I hear vegetarians (and I was one for 15 years) bring up the fact that they are killing plants. The justification is that “Plants feel no pain.” But life being taken is still life being taken, no matter how you look at it, and plants are in the business of wanting to survive like any other living creature. I do understand the argument that the factory and feedlot system is cruel and “inhumane”, but plant crops are treated in exactly the same way. Plants are not meant to live like that. My way of seeing it is that life survives on life; living things cannot grow, be healthy, and flourish without life to feed on. So I don’t differentiate the value between a plant’s life and an animal’s life, but I do incur respect for the lives I have taken for my food. Those lives deserve respect for being sacrificed so that I may live, and enjoy, life.

    bamboo wrote on September 1st, 2011
  27. Brilliant, as always. And many wonderful replies.

    I would reinforce the reference to former vegan Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth. It is hard to see how anyone could read that book with an open mind and not become an omnivore. Another powerful testimony is voraciouseats.com/2010/11/19/a-vegan-no-more/.

    Harry wrote on September 1st, 2011
  28. Yay for this post! Mark i just finished reading the Vegetarian myth. Woah! what an eye opener. Has your son read it? I cant imagin remaining a vegetarian after reading that book. I was a Veg (still ate eggs and cheese) for two years for mostly the political reason and she just blew all my reasoning out of the water, LOVED it!
    Everyone should read that. I’m reading her new book next.

    linsben wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • yes! i love lierre. i think for me, reintroducing meat after 12 years was based on the same desire for health and morality that drove me to give it up as a 12 year old girl. i think lierre does a great job laying a moral and political foundation for reclaiming meat.

      erika wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • Oh, but Lierre goes WAAAAAAAY off the rails later on. “The Vegetarian Myth” was superb — and then she went crazy (or, actually, crazier)! (Heck, even the last chapter of “Veg Myth” was pretty crazy!) She gets part of the way to her “adult knowledge” concept (which I loved!), but then breaks down into a child-like simplicity (or is it idiocy?!) again: “if we only would play nice, why EVERYone will play nice, and everything will be unicorns and rainbows!”

        No, no, most people will NOT be sh-tting rainbows, they will be arming themselves to ensure adequate resources for THEIR families and tribes! Woe unto you if you do not ALSO prepare!

        Major parts of Nature ARE red in tooth and claw: and if you/we don’t cleave to — and look after — our own “tribe” — then we WILL be overrun and destroyed! My fav saying, and I think it’s valid is:

        Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who don’t!

        We are NOT the world, there is NO kumbaya, and fervent, blind belief will NOT lead us to safety and peace!

        {sigh} Rant over.

        Elenor wrote on August 28th, 2012
  29. I am pretty sure most of them believe that is it sentience that is the differentiating factor. There is a mind that experiences life inside an animal (but not a plant) and when you kill it you rob it of its ability to experience life. There is also the capacity to suffer. There is no phenomenological good or bad, pleasure or pain for a plant, but there is for an animal. That is what the vast majority of them maintain.

    Of course the assumption here is that animals have to suffer when they are farmed. And that animals are really that disenfranchised by dying young. They don’t look to the future and don’t have future aspirations. They don’t live biographically, but all in the present. They never really do a whole heck of a lot except eat, protect themselves, and mate every once in a while. And if their present is always fairly pleasant then there has been no harm done. That is why Peter Singer no longer wags his finger at those who eat well-raised animal products. It is funny how PETA still use his original argument as a grounds for condemning any use of animals for anything at all, when his philosophy that is the most common argument actually allows for pastured animal consumption.

    Of course this all assumes that humans should care about the lives of animals in the first place, and that vegetarians are justified in their moralizing, when in fact the treatment of animals by others is none of their business and it is a grave offense to wag your finger at those who have not harmed you in any way at all. Common objections are that then it will be all-right to oppress people on the other side of the world, since they are not part of one’s society, but if you oppress people who could have been your allies and equals and could have been partners in fighting for your security and liberty, you are harming yourself. When we consider the fight for rights and liberties that we all must participate in, we see that anyone who can be an ally and have a voice should be an ally. If we all had this attitude I can guarantee that there would be a lot more freedom in the world for us.

    One more objection is that those in a coma can’t defend our rights and liberties and are essentially useless. So are babies. But if I am ever in a coma I will want to have fostered a society that does not kill me, and so I should foster a society that does not kill people in comas. It is also extremely damaging to the general political zeitgeist to have children growing up knowing that they could have been killed at any time when they were babies. Best to afford them rights as soon as they are born and acknowledge them as prospective citizens and allies. Animals are not prospective citizens and allies, because they can’t participate in our society and moral norms. If they are hostile, they are unreasonable, there is no reason to enter into an agreement with that which can not agree.

    The differentiating factor between humans and animals is that humans are useful to humans as moral agents who can come to agreements to secure rights for each other, whereas animals are not particularly useful in that regard. That doesn’t mean you should do whatever you want with them, because if we fail to be at least compassionate enough to give them a decent life when possible then that will be a detriment to our character in the long run.

    I know it might seem intuitive to say that it is inherently wrong to kill humnans just because, but there have to be reasons put forth if we are to have a coherent ethics. There are. But those reasons don’t extend to animals. Best strategy for debating vegetarians is simply to question all of their assumptions. If it is wrong to kill humans, there is a reason for it, and if the reason doesn’t extend to animals then vegetarianism is not a valid ethical position. Vegetarians rarely have a well-substantiated ethical stance with regards to humans, in my experience. It is all just a big fat assertion to them, and they like it that way, because then they can go crazy with assertion with regards to animals.

    Stabby wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • With all respect to your position, I have a living will that specifically tells my loved ones to pull the plug, should I end up in a coma. And I’d fight any legislation that tried to tell my family or doctors they couldn’t respect my wishes.

      taihuibabe wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • That’s fine, we’re not in disageement there. If someone doesn’t want the plug pulled, however, then that is what I would be against. Unless we were 100% sure that their mind was gone for good.

        Stabby wrote on September 1st, 2011
  30. I was vegan for about 8 years, and when I moved to South America I dove headfirst back into eating like a carnivore. I really had none of the side effects I thought I would have from the bacteria in the meat ( and yes in South America, they don’t take as much care with their meat ie. less if any refrigeration, etc.) Most of their meat is grass fed where i was, they wouldnt think of wasting precious grains on animals.
    For me, the transition was easy, especially with the cultural expectations of Peru and how vegetarianism is extremely rare and odd there (except in Lima)

    Milestone wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • I have had a very similar experience. I was a vegan for about 2 years before I moved down to South America (Paraguay)and decided to start eating meat again since vegetarianism, let alone veganism, is seen as very odd. And the cattle is also grass fed here which is good. (although I witnessed a cow slaughter the other day and it was NOT humane, inmo!)
      The transition for me from going from meat eating to vegansim was very easy and I never craved meat, just as the transition of eating meat again was just as easy. Unfortunatly, all the meat here is usually cooked in veg oil unless it’s barbecue day so I try to cook at home as much as possible.
      I think the hardest part will be my family saying ‘I told you so’ when I go back home!!

      lopal wrote on September 1st, 2011
  31. I have not eaten meat or fish for 20+ years. Since starting the paleo diet I have often considered starting again, so its good to read articles like this.

    But in the end, a life is a life and to be responsible for the death of another creature is something I could never do, even when the science and the logic all point to the same thing.

    I suppose its a decision of the heart and not the head in this case. Its harder to live and eat this way if you are vegetarian, but maybe also more rewarding not to choose the easiest path, the one that puts your own needs above those of others?

    Tatiana wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • We are all responsible for the death of others. Something had to die for you to eat. This seems like the most natural truth yet people still try to wiggle their way out of it. And i was one of them so i understand the desire to deny that truth.

      linsben wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • Yeah, this has never been a concern for me. I love animals, but I’m not killing my cat to have dinner. It’s so bleeding heart of vegans/vegetarians to be like, OMGZ BABY COW FJDHFKDL!

        Lisa wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • Again, I would strongly recommend The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith. As a vegetarian, you are responsible for the billions of deaths caused by agriculture that does not include animals such as cattle, goats, chickens, etc.

      Harry wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • This is true – crop harvesters kill animals (and they’re the cute ones!) Nevertheless, veg*ns are still responsible for fewer deaths than omnivores…but yeah, no one can accurately claim that their diet & lifestyle never killed an animal.

        Reiko wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • How many animals were murdered to provide the farm your produce comes from? How many native plants were eradicated? It took me a long time to realize what those 2 questions meant. There is death in every bite of every food you eat.

      Jeff wrote on September 1st, 2011
  32. I’ve always been a fan of meat,fruit,nuts and vegges but it took PB to get into fat, gristle( maybe where our love of chewing comes from) and organs.

    alex wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • Yeah! Ditch Gum, chew gristle!

      Dino Babe wrote on September 2nd, 2011
  33. Thank you for this article, it’s refreshing to see someone actually defend meat-eating. I like the points in your article, however, I’d like to know exactly why we need meat? What exactly are the nutritional benefits that we can’t get from other sources?

    I am a partial vegetarian and recently made the switch to eating no meat or chicken and very few eggs and rarely fish. I don’t notice much of a difference in my health.

    I think we should just listen to our bodies. So long as the meat is farmed from sustainable, organic and kind methods, then why should we look down upon an omnivorous lifestyle?

    I love your suggestion about making meat eating a ceremony and to have reverence for those creatures who have died for us. It makes the meat eating experience more beautiful and sacred :)

    The Traveling Yogi wrote on September 1st, 2011
  34. I don’t know. I went from 18 years of veganism to meat eating with a pasture-raised, organic porterhouse and never looked back. I had read Omnivore’s Dilemma, found out about WAPF, and was researching healthy meats for my son, who had just started eating solid foods. (I never was delusional enough to think that veganism was safe for children.) So I was probably psychologically primed for the transition. I felt incredible after eating it, lots of energy and good feeling, sort of walking on air.

    Back as a vegan, whenever I thought someone might have slipped beef stock or something like that in my food, I would feel sick to my stomach. Hard to believe this wasn’t psychological. Everyone’s different, but I would encourage people to jump right to the good stuff, not put minced up meat in stews or nibble on hard-boiled eggs. It made the transition so much better to remember that meat tastes really good and that, no, those meat analogues did not come close. Just make sure it’s not nasty factory meat.

    As for digestion, nothing improved the sorry state of my gastrointestinal state more than eating meat and I had no problems. I did start making lacto-fermented vegetables right away so that may have helped, and I did eat meat only twice a week or so for the first month, but I never had the problems with digesting meat that I had eating vegan food for so long.

    Bill wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • “I never was delusional enough to think that veganism was safe for children.”

      Thank you, thank you, thank you.

      Dawn wrote on September 3rd, 2011
  35. A friend switched to vegetarian to please his girlfriend, and later said, “Becoming a vegetarian was the hardest thing I ever did. Eating that first burger after two years was the easiest.”

    :-)

    Steve wrote on September 1st, 2011
  36. I’ve just started down the primal path. In fact, this past Sunday was my first real meat meal in almost 5 years. As I bit into a beautiful grass fed burger that my friend brought to the picnic, I was like “yeah, this is what I’ve been missing.”

    Who was I kidding when I said that those Morningstar patties were the same as real burgers?

    Anyway, I’ve decided to just dive into the deep end of the meat eating pool vs. a slow transition. I’ve been eating small amounts of fish and bacon 3-4 times a week for the past few weeks. I’m currently planning on introducing a meat back into my diet on a regular basis.

    Ashley wrote on September 1st, 2011
  37. My first comment is on the cheese– My wife is VERY sensitive to dairy, and when she eats a lot of cheese, has major issues with pain, and just not feeling well overall. When she eats 4 strips of bacon, and 2 eggs for breakfast, she feels great.

    On transitioning– I would say most of it is psychological…”feeling” that something is gross, or putting that thought in your mind. When I was young I was a self proclaimed vegetarian (I wouldn’t eat meat, especially steak because I didn’t like the chewy fat parts– obviously it was not cooked well, and was grain fed). The hardest part for me was the realization that saturated, animal fats will make me healthy, and those vegetable oils were killing me. My wife is slimmer than ever, and I have dropped 25 lbs in 5 weeks with no effort…and feel amazing (after the first 2 weeks, which were rough!)

    As for the Veg poster– I can really relate, because not long I felt that way also. Read, “The vegetarian myth” by L. Keith (as mark suggested). Grains are not only destroying our bodies, but they are literally raping the planet. I won’t put any more strain on the planet by eating a vegetarian diet.

    For the Cost issues– I understand the cost thing, but I feel really bad for the kids if you are feeding them veg on a budget..read, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes… they will feel better and fuller on very small amounts of calories…even if they only get 1 burger or small piece of steak…supplement with some supper buttery veggies…cheaper and better than feeding them toxic fruits and veg with pesticides.

    Jeff wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • I crave cheese like other women crave chocolate. I generally keep it out of the house to avoid devouring it by the block.

      I think this is related to a vegetarian childhood (vegan for the first few years).

      Cheese was our main source of animal fat and protein, so no wonder we were always so hungry for it!

      Dawn wrote on September 3rd, 2011
  38. Personally, I don’t like red meat. I’ve always been that way, even as a kid. If I had to eat it, I’d smother it with salty BBQ sauce or else feed it to my cat.

    I love chicken, eggs and fish, so I have those daily, but only organic/grassfed. I eat prepared grains and beans, but in small quantities and never in the same day because, yo, too many carbs! Usually they’re saved for workout days, but I do like whole grain bagels or oatmeal in the morning.

    I think flexitarianism is fine and shouldn’t be looked down upon by primal and paleo peeps. As long as you’re not a sugar junkie who guzzles coke and eats chips because it’s animal-free, you’re good to go.

    I’m thin but muscular, not skinny. I’ve never gone past a BMI of 19.5 in my adult life. My blood sugar doesn’t go nuts if I have grains and my last checkup at the doc’s revealed “excellent” vitamin levels. I think vegetarianism gets a bad rap from people who do it wrong or cut food and fat unnecessarily. Even as a full veg, I never bought the crap about killer fat (except trans!)

    The basis of ANY diet should be eating a lot of veg and nuts, some fruit, and no exceptions for junk food. Pay attention to what you eat, stay active, and you’ll likely thrive. If something doesn’t agree with your body, get rid of it.

    Lisa wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • I’m not only morally opposed to grains, but I believe that the existing science proves how horrible it is for the body. For an analogy– your car will run if you have water in your gasoline. You can use chemicals to take it out, but now you have chemicals stuck in the car. Your car will run a lot longer and smoother with less problems if you just don’t include water in the gasoline. Grains are like adding water and sugar to the gas tank…yeah it runs, but I want to run well even when I am 100 years old or more if I’m lucky. I don’t believe in the “everything in moderation” fallacy. Does that mean “cocaine in moderation” is okay? “Homicide in moderation” is okay?

      Jeff wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • I’m not a believer in “everything in moderation” either. It’s an excuse for people to continue their poor habits. Chips once a month are still chips, they don’t have an internal calendar.

        I’ve never had a problem with grains. Some people don’t, just like some can tolerate higher amounts of carbs. Even Taubes acknowledges this. Science is good to a point. Some science also says that high fat diets are bad for you, but who believes that? ;)

        If I were having health or gastro problems, I’d cut the grains, no question. What we do to our bodies does accumulate, but it isn’t finite. Plenty of people here have turned their health around by making changes. If I end up having to eliminate grains entirely, but that’s the *one* thing that needs changing, I’d say that’s pretty good.

        Lisa wrote on September 1st, 2011
      • I don’t believe in that saying either. It should be “A moderate amount of things in moderation”!

        But all joking aside, I can sympathize with your moral opposition to grains. I am morally opposed to dairy. It’s an even more recent addition to the diet.

        But even so, it’s clear that people have developed a tolerance for it. Likewise, it’s highly probable that a fraction of people have developed a tolerance for grains.

        In the primal community, we all point to evolutionary theory to support our haunch that certain foods are bad for us…so far it’s been a pretty good rule of thumb. But evolutionary theory also says that with enough time and pressure, certain mutations will arise and thrive in a population (ex. lactase persistence). So some people actually do fine with grains, albeit a very small population. We are all human, and yet we are all different. Not every car runs on gasoline.

        Reiko wrote on September 1st, 2011
        • It depends what you mean by “dairy”.

          For example, I reckon humans have been eating cheese for as long as they have been eating animals because all “cheese” is, fundamentally, is the contents of a non-weaned baby animal’s stomach.

          Yep, traditional cheese is, esentially, baby animal vomit.

          So I simply cannot see that our wild ancestors didn’t sometimes hunt or trap preweaned mammals and eat their stomach contents because they will have eaten everything they could from a carcass and very young animals would have been an easier catch or trap.

          In fact, when you think about it, it is worth considering that such an age-old “cheese awareness” through eating young animal stomach contents may have driven the gradual move to animal husbandry and then the consumption of mammal milk, rather than the consumption of milk driving the start of cheese-making.

          So I am rather dubious about claims that dairy is a very recent addition to the human diet. Milk? Yes, that, inevitably, has to come about through animal husbandry.

          However, eggs? I can see how they could be a found boon. Interestingly, there are a lot of eggs, egg motifs and egg symbols in very old literature, folklore and religion, so there must have been an awareness of non-mammalian reproduction. Again, it really isn’t hard to keep your eyes open, climb a few trees and nick bird eggs from a nest or bush. People still steal rare birds eggs today.

          Alex Grace wrote on September 2nd, 2011
  39. For RI vegetarians looking to make the switch go with a natural meat source:

    http://patspastured.com/

    liberty_1776 wrote on September 1st, 2011
  40. I was a vegetarian in my early 20s for moral reasons. Then I spent a year on my grandparents’ farm. Watching my grandfather kill rabbits, I entered a conversation about morality.

    Me: I think it’s probably wrong to kill animals.
    My grandfather (a WW2 veteran): It may be. If it worries you, you’ll have to eat plants only.
    Me: But I think eating plants may also be wrong. They’re alive, too. And more, animals die so I can eat plants.
    Grandfather: (laughing) Than you’ll starve.

    It’s really quite simple. Or it used to be.

    dragan wrote on September 1st, 2011

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple