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September 01, 2011

How to Eat Meat: Transitioning Away from Vegetarianism

By Mark Sisson
245 Comments

As 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.

TAGS:  vegetarianism

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245 Comments on "How to Eat Meat: Transitioning Away from Vegetarianism"

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Antispirit
Antispirit
5 years 26 days ago

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.”

Primal Toad
5 years 26 days ago

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!

Erik
Erik
5 years 26 days ago

…dive into offal..

alex
alex
5 years 26 days ago

testicles AKA prairie oysters – from castrating the male lambs I’ve never had any though.

nikki
nikki
5 years 12 days ago

yeah, and you’re not even murdering anything!! Haaaa!

Aggie
Aggie
5 years 25 days ago

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.

Dave
Dave
5 years 24 days ago

Where abouts in Ireland are you?

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

John
John
5 years 25 days ago

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.

Milemom
Milemom
5 years 26 days ago
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;… Read more »
tess
tess
5 years 26 days ago

🙂 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…)?

Gorillaboy
Gorillaboy
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Lisa
Lisa
5 years 26 days ago

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.

DeeDee
DeeDee
5 years 26 days ago

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.

amyduc
amyduc
4 years 10 months ago
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… Read more »
Kristie
Kristie
4 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
Agnassi
Agnassi
4 years 27 days ago
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… Read more »
Lauren
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Peggy The Primal Parent
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Dave
Dave
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Sylvie
Sylvie
5 years 26 days ago

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.

pixel
pixel
5 years 26 days ago

eewwww, vegetable oil!

El
5 years 25 days ago

The bugs sound fun– the veggie oil does not! Perhap ‘gift’ your nephew some coconut oil ;)!

Dawn
Dawn
5 years 25 days ago

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 🙂

Uncephalized
Uncephalized
5 years 26 days ago

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.

joe
joe
5 years 26 days ago

Lobsters don’t need to be alive, just fresh. You can kill them instantly (bifurcate the head with a sharp knife) right before cooking.

Dasbutch
Dasbutch
5 years 26 days ago

same here i’ll try ’em…grashopper.

AARON
AARON
5 years 26 days ago

IF YOU WANT NUTRITION TRY KIDNEYS.

Robin
Robin
5 years 26 days ago

Are y’all tryin’ to scare off the vegetarians or what?! Grasshoppers oiled alive in oil and kidneys?! LOL!

John Hatanaka
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Dawn
Dawn
5 years 25 days ago

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!

Katherine Mata
Katherine Mata
1 year 1 month ago

Im 15 and ive been a vegertarian for 2 years, well fishertarian bc i would eat tuna only tho thts the only exception and i want to start eating meat (bacon) really bad. But i dont think i will ever eat beef again eww. Lol

Primal Recipe
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Issabeau
Issabeau
5 years 26 days ago

“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

Dawn
Dawn
5 years 25 days ago
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… Read more »
Ron Helwig
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Wes
Wes
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Rich
Rich
5 years 26 days ago

It most likely isn’t the fat in the cheese. Check your tolerances for milk proteins… you may be allergic or have an intolerance.

Reiko
Reiko
5 years 26 days ago

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 🙂

Gregory Lowrey
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Celia
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Dawn
Dawn
5 years 25 days ago

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
Dawn
5 years 25 days ago

My digestion improved when I went off grains and *DAIRY*. Sorry.

katie
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Primal Toad
5 years 26 days ago

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!

Bjarni Tryggvason
Bjarni Tryggvason
5 years 26 days ago

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.

steve
steve
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Gregory Lowrey
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Katherine Mata
Katherine Mata
1 year 1 month ago

Omg yes so im 15 and i want to eat meat now im thinking of eating bacon bc for an odd reason my body is craving for it sooo bad. I litterally dream of bacon but im afraid i wont go thru with it psychological wise.

Primal Toad
5 years 26 days ago
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.… Read more »
kate
kate
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Aggie
Aggie
5 years 25 days ago

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.

Heather-Lee
Heather-Lee
5 years 21 days ago

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!

Dawn
Dawn
5 years 24 days ago

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.

Happycyclegirl
Happycyclegirl
5 years 26 days ago

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
Happycyclegirl
5 years 26 days ago

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! 🙂

Karen F
Karen F
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Dawn
Dawn
5 years 24 days ago

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.

Carole
Carole
5 years 25 days ago

I soaked / sprouted all my beans and fed them to the chickens!

Sallinstra
3 years 9 months ago

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Karen F
Karen F
5 years 26 days ago

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!)

Beowulf
Beowulf
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
peggy
peggy
5 years 26 days ago

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…

Lisa
Lisa
5 years 26 days ago

I’m curious about elk and rabbit. My friend had elk burgers at her last party… when I was out of town. 🙁

Uncephalized
Uncephalized
5 years 26 days ago

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.

jp
jp
5 years 26 days ago

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!

Joanne - The Real Food Mama
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Lindsey
Lindsey
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Milemom
Milemom
5 years 26 days ago

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)

Sharon
Sharon
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Dave
Dave
5 years 26 days ago

Common for that to happen at that age.

Lark
Lark
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Mike
Mike
5 years 26 days ago
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.… Read more »
Lindsey
Lindsey
5 years 26 days ago
@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… Read more »
Cathy M
Cathy M
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Virginia
Virginia
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
peggy
peggy
5 years 26 days ago

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…

Robin
Robin
5 years 26 days ago

Trimming the fat?! Don’t do that!!!

Lee
Lee
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
DB
DB
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Gregory Lowrey
4 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Stefania
3 years 9 months ago

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..

Karen F
Karen F
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Peggy The Primal Parent
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Lauren
5 years 26 days ago

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.

tess
tess
5 years 26 days ago

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! 🙂

Peggy The Primal Parent
5 years 26 days ago

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.

DB
DB
5 years 26 days ago

Raw liver (grassfed and organic of course) is supposed to be fantastic for you. I eat a bit whenever I cook up a pound.

Ellen
Ellen
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Krista
5 years 26 days ago

It’s my understanding that this only kills parasites, but that’s a start!

Chris
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Milemom
Milemom
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Mark Sisson
Mark Sisson
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Milemom
Milemom
5 years 25 days ago

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.

Issabeau
Issabeau
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Aggie
Aggie
5 years 25 days ago

Same as above. And I’ve never felt better.

pam
pam
5 years 17 days ago

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,

Stabby
Stabby
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
DB
DB
5 years 26 days ago

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.

fitmom
fitmom
5 years 26 days ago

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.

taihuibabe
5 years 26 days ago

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.

DB
DB
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
bbuddha
bbuddha
5 years 26 days ago

Yeh, that happened with my daughter when she was 15. It lasted right up till i grilled some burgers.

Andrea
Andrea
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Dawn
Dawn
5 years 24 days ago

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…)

Stabby
Stabby
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Gregory Lowrey
4 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
MichK
MichK
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Steven
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
bamboo
bamboo
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Harry
5 years 26 days ago

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/.

linsben
linsben
5 years 26 days ago

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.

erika
erika
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Elenor
Elenor
4 years 30 days ago
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… Read more »
Stabby
Stabby
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
taihuibabe
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Stabby
Stabby
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Milestone
Milestone
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
lopal
lopal
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Tatiana
Tatiana
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
linsben
linsben
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Lisa
Lisa
5 years 26 days ago

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!

Harry
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Reiko
Reiko
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Jeff
Jeff
5 years 26 days ago

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.

alex
alex
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Dino Babe
Dino Babe
5 years 25 days ago

Yeah! Ditch Gum, chew gristle!

The Traveling Yogi
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Bill
Bill
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Dawn
Dawn
5 years 24 days ago

“I never was delusional enough to think that veganism was safe for children.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Steve
Steve
5 years 26 days ago

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.”

🙂

Ashley
Ashley
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Jeff
Jeff
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Dawn
Dawn
5 years 24 days ago

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!

Lisa
Lisa
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Jeff
Jeff
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Lisa
Lisa
5 years 26 days ago
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,… Read more »
Reiko
Reiko
5 years 26 days ago
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… Read more »
Alex Grace
Alex Grace
5 years 25 days ago
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… Read more »
liberty_1776
5 years 26 days ago

For RI vegetarians looking to make the switch go with a natural meat source:

http://patspastured.com/

dragan
dragan
5 years 26 days ago

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.

Jen
Jen
5 years 26 days ago
Mark, I’m not sure I’ve ever commented here before, but this is a wonderful post. I know a few vegans & vegetarians and will keep this filed away, as a couple have had conversations with me about my lifestyle and diet and exhibited real interest. Thank you for posting this. It is sad that something must die so another creature can live, but…it’s just the way of things. Harsh but true (or did I watch way too many nature shows as a kid?). Also, glad to read you look at hunters more favourably. My father, uncles, grandfathers and a few… Read more »
Lynsay
5 years 26 days ago
Hey Mark – I love this post! I actually was a vegetarian before switching to the primal diet. I wrote about the whole experience on my own blog last year when I made the transition. If you’re interested, here is a link to that post http://lynsaycaylor.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/whats-a-paleo-and-why-im-no-longer-vegetarian/. This was one of the most significant changes I have ever made in my life. From my experience, I didn’t have a difficult time incorporating meat again because I was to the point that I knew my body needed nutrients. I do think the best thing was going slowly. I would have a small… Read more »
Issabeau
Issabeau
5 years 26 days ago

I went from being vegetarian (but consuming dairy, eggs and the occasional 1x a month chicken leg) to a full blown 99% carnivore over night.

Never suffered any problems, in fact, all of my digestive problems I had my entire life suddenly went away.

Ironic, huh!?

Dasbutch
Dasbutch
5 years 26 days ago

if its digestive juices needed perhaps introducing eggs may be an easy means to get the animal proteins, thus kick starting the primal juices again. Eggs are so gentle. I promise it won’t hurt.

Josh Frey
5 years 26 days ago
The idea of hunting has really sparked my interest lately too. I’ve done a complete 180 on this issue as well. I used to (and still kind of do) think hunting for sport is a somewhat sadistic way to have fun, but now that I realize the importance of eating healthy animals, I’ve decided I want to learn to hunt. And after all, a decent-sized dear can feed a someone for quite a while. Killing your own food is cheap! (how’s that for an argument against the “primal/paleo is elitist” crowd?). As far as the morality issue and so on,… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
5 years 26 days ago
What a great post, and so relevant for many of us who are struggling to go paleo/primal with a vegetarian mindset. I’m a believer; I’ve read the books, the web sites, and it all makes sense to me–but my basic repugnance for eating a lot of meat has been holding me back. I’m not a judger–but I gave up “supermarket” meat 10 years ago and started enjoying lentils and other vegetarian sources of protein. (I know, it’s not as nutritionally sound.) I do love fish and enjoy humanely raised eggs so that is working for me and I am buying… Read more »
LostMeHere
LostMeHere
5 years 26 days ago

I think the example of the well-known cookbook author Lorna Sass is useful here. With a professional education, she went vegan for a long time – and yet even with her nutritional creds, she couldn’t make it work long-term. She fell ill and went back to omnivorism. Her health improved as a result.

amoebaSIX
amoebaSIX
5 years 26 days ago

http://www.eatwild.com/products/colorado.html

this is a great site for finding local meats eggs and dairy. i was a militant vegan for about 9 years, and they really weren’t my most healthy years. at the time, it was more of a moral choice, but i did eventually realize my problems were more about the meat industry than the poor animals. and i feel the same way about produce as well. i encourage everyone to look into local CSA programs! all your food should be as local as possible!

pixel
pixel
5 years 26 days ago

11 years vegetarian. broke it eating cold steak for a weekend. i did relish the fruit salad on my way home, but no ill effects.

if 11 years couldnt do it, i dont think theres any loss of ability to digest meat.

Ryan
5 years 26 days ago

Agreed 100% on the digestion part. Can you imagine staying away from gluten and sugar for years and then eating a couple cupcakes. I think the tum tum wouldn’t be too happy about that

PrimalGrandma
PrimalGrandma
5 years 26 days ago
I can’t speak for eating meat after a long hiatus, BUT DH and I each ate a large cupcake at our granddaughter’s birthday party last April. We both felt like crap for about 2 days — that’s all we needed to experience to realize that what we gave up was worth giving up and more so. This summer we attended a wedding and didn’t eat any wedding cake – god forbid! (We must have been asked a dozen times why we were not eating any of the cake). I’m so glad I didn’t eat any as I really didn’t need… Read more »
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