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

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.

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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. 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 cousins all hunt and/or fish (trying to get Hubby on the boat, if not, this glamour girl will have to head out, because I love and crave that healthy woods-fed venison). They’re gentlemen with a real love for nature and her creatures, but they hunt to eat and feed their families, as well as to keep deer populations from exploding to the point that the animals starve.

    And they truly do respect the animals. I remember one incident where a doe my uncle shot took off and he couldn’t track her down. Within twenty minutes, every hunter in the area, maybe eight men, had stopped their own hunting to help my uncle find her—no one wanted her to suffer more than necessary. The doe was very quickly found and mercifully treated. The image of the brutish hunter is one that has bothered me since childhood; I’ve learned more about creation and its creatures from my hunter relatives—who took me for walks in the woods and showed me all sorts of things!—than I ever did in school!

    Anyhow. Superb post. I think and hope it’s going to help many, many people.

    Jen wrote on September 1st, 2011
  2. 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 portion of meat (maybe 4-5 oz) at one meal a day for a few weeks then ramped it up to be more frequently. I immediately noticed how quickly I got full from meat & vegetables. That helped the transition even more. I cut out all grains/sugar at the same time, so I think that also helped. I want to say thank you to you as your blog has been a great resource for me. I feel as though I’m healthier than I’ve ever been because of a primal diet!

    Lynsay wrote on September 1st, 2011
  3. 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!?

    Issabeau wrote on September 1st, 2011
  4. 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.

    Dasbutch wrote on September 1st, 2011
  5. 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, I’ve gotta agree with Robb Wolf on this one. That’s something they need to sort out for themselves, and it’s not worth trying to convince everyone. Like he said, there’s thousands of people who are ready to make the transition. Not to say we shouldn’t try to snag a couple vegetarians on the fence, but I think it’s best to focus on helping people who are already ready to help themselves.

    Cheers, keep up the good work!

    Josh Frey wrote on September 1st, 2011
  6. 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 the incredibly expensive locally raised beef at my local farmer’s market–but I don’t like it. I started doing a little better when I gave up the idea of meat three times daily and started beginning the day with a whey protein smoothie. Now only two meals to plan meat for. Hopefully this will all seem natural to me after a year or so…

    (Also, I feel kind of heavy, sort of ‘blech’ eating all this meat. Don’t hate me for saying “yuck.”)

    Michelle wrote on September 1st, 2011
  7. 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.

    LostMeHere wrote on September 1st, 2011
  8. 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!

    amoebaSIX wrote on September 1st, 2011
  9. 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.

    pixel wrote on September 1st, 2011
  10. 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

    Ryan wrote on September 1st, 2011
    • 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 to feel that crappy again after the cupcake fiasco. DH says he feels the same – in fact he made sure I didn’t even think about trying out the wedding cake!

      PrimalGrandma wrote on September 1st, 2011
  11. I stopped being a vegan when we moved to CA and my new DR said to eat chicken or enjoy a trip to the hospital for a blood transfusion to help your anemia. (I had fired the first DR that told me to eat meat.)

    Fairly simple. One bite of chicken a day for a week and then I couldn’t get enough meat.

    My digestion problems weren’t cured until I stopped eating grains last December.

    Cindy wrote on September 1st, 2011
  12. I think the hardest part for me is telling people that I eat meat now – so many friends and family knew for so long that I was The Vegetarian ( and of course my overweight husband was deprived….even though I always cook a variety of foods I couldn’t or didnt eat!) I am sometimes reluctant to tell people, simply because most people overcook meat (IMHO) and I have always liked it RED (my father called it “alive and kicking”). Going back to eating cows and lamb (how I LOVE lamb!!)means I “undercook” it for me and overcook it for my family that doesnt like the redness…LOL, but at least I dont have to deal with the bothersome vegetarian issues (health and inconvenience mostly).

    Hopeless Dreamer wrote on September 1st, 2011
  13. I gave up red meat for Lent one year…worst 46 days ever. I was 15. The next year, I told my mom I was giving up sex and cigarettes…she didn’t think it was funny.

    Lindsey wrote on September 1st, 2011
  14. Mark, that last paragraph was downright poetic. Thanks!

    Karen P. wrote on September 1st, 2011
  15. I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for 25 years. (Health reasons, didn’t like meat, blah, blah.) It becomes a habit, then an identity. Like Hopeless Dreamer wrote, I was The Vegetarian. Then all of a sudden I couldn’t handle the lacto anymore. My digestive issues led me to MDA. The more I read, the more I thought maybe I could eat some fish or something.

    I was scared to death I was going to hurl, but I tried a small piece of halibut out at a restaurant a little more than a year ago. My husband took pictures! I thought I would add fish to my diet once a week or something but once I realized that fish wouldn’t turn my stomach, I wanted to try all the animals. My best friend, who has been telling me since I was 13 that one day I would freak out and take down a cow, still finds it weird to watch me tearing chicken from the bone with my teeth. In the past year, I’ve tried lamb, venison, duck, rabbit, octopus, you name it.

    Sometimes I think to myself, “Wow, for 25 years, people were out there enjoying bacon, and I had no clue what I was missing.” I mean really, 3 years ago I went to a luau in Hawaii and didn’t eat any roast pig!

    Anyway, the transition was surprisingly easy for me. Of course, I didn’t have to grapple with any moral issues. I have always felt that there are many animals out there that would consume ME for food if they just got the chance. I had a run-in with a fisher cat recently and I know that he WANTED me for dinner even if he couldn’t actually close the deal.

    So, if you’re a vegetarian and you want to try meat, go ahead. It was weird at first. Every new type of meat I tried, I had to give myself a pep talk before puttting it in my mouth. I could only deal with just the meat on the plate. I didn’t want it touching my veggies or anything. I felt like I was experimenting on myself. Now I am a fully functioning omnivore. Thanks Mark!

    P.S. I do feel better and if I never see a bean again it will be too soon!

    Erica wrote on September 1st, 2011
  16. I was vegan for 13 years. When I realized I could no longer do this without jeopardizing my long-term health it was a terrible day. I went full-on Weston Price pretty much immediately after reading The Vegetarian Myth (amongst many other dozens of books, The Primal Blueprint included). My GF who was going through the same transition from vegan to WAPF style diet made me beef stew with a weeks notice for me to get psychologically prepared. I was near tears as I sat down at the table. But there has been no looking back. It’s been 18 months now and I can’t imagine life without grilled steak, braised ruminants, egg yolks, raw Jersey cream, lard, butter, liver, heart… good lord I don’t know how I did it for 13 years.

    Rob wrote on September 1st, 2011
  17. I was vegan for 10 years, followed the accepted wisdom of the day to eat lots of whole grains, low fat, etc. and couldn’t understand why I kept putting weight on and was tired all the time. Then I read Barry Sears’ Zone book and saw the light. I realized I wasn’t getting nearly enough protein relative to carbs. The very next meal I prepared was pork chops! I’ve been a meat eater ever since and had no problem transitioning. It was more like my body said “Halleluja, at last!” The extra weight fell away and my energy shot up. Now I’m eating primal/paleo with no grains at all and feel like I’m in my twenties again. I’m 64.

    Island Girl wrote on September 1st, 2011
  18. So both my parents are vegetarian, so therefore from day one of my existence I have also been vegetarian. My whole childhood I was grossed out by meat, would stop eating something instantly if I found it had meat in it etc. Meat was the enemy and I stayed away from it. As I grew up I learned more about the meat industry, and realized how bad animals were treated. I also became an environmentalist, so being vegetarian aligned with that.

    Now in my mid twenties I find myself questioning being a vegetarian, and wondering if it would be healthier for me to incorporate meat into my diet. For environmental reasons I would want to try and source as much local meat as possible.

    So basically my question is that i’m not really sure how to like it. My boyfriend is a meat eater and so I have been trying bits of chicken, bacon, etc. But always just little bites/pieces, anything larger makes me feel sick, and I can’t stand having to chew something so long in my mouth. Since trying meat I don’t mind the taste so much, it’s just chewyness, and the pyschological fact that I am eating an animal. If you have any suggestions on how to ease myself through this transition I would really appreciate it!

    Laura wrote on September 2nd, 2011
  19. I was only vegetarian for 2 years when I jumped into bacon again, and it made me sick for a week. A year later I broke my vegetarianism again with simple, grilled chicken, and have never looked back. I very much agree with the take-it-slow philosophy, especially for those who DO have psychological aversions to meat (I just didn’t like the taste very much). That being said, I now eat 1-2 pounds of meat/fish a day and have estimated that if I wanted to go vegetarian again, I’d have to eat seven dozen eggs a week to satisfy my umami taste. Transition from fish to chicken to lean steak to lamb and bacon and you will never look back. ;)

    Mary E. Clark wrote on September 2nd, 2011
  20. What if everyone in the world decided to eat humanely raised meat? Would the supply be enough for the demand without compromising the quality of the food? I eat meat but I cannot imagine all the people in the world eating meat with every meal. Is there a happy medium for a few veggie days and a few meat eating days?

    MKS wrote on September 2nd, 2011
  21. Went to paleo from 10 years of full vegetarianism overnight.. I did not have any stomach issues..
    http://www.sancarloscrossfit.com/2011/08/my-paleo-experiment/

    It has been awesome…

    luis wrote on September 2nd, 2011
  22. I was once cooking some goat liver at a party, and a bunch of people lined up to get a taste. Three of them told me afterwards, “Man, that’s pretty good, it doesn’t taste like meat! We’re vegetarians, but we just had to try it.” It was one of my proudest moments, and I really respected those people for being adventurous and open minded.

    Grimmak wrote on September 2nd, 2011
  23. “Man, I love vegetarians. They’re all I eat.. with the exception of the occasional mountain lion steak.”
    ~The Nuge.

    Hey, I just had to. It’s bowhuntin’ season in much of the West, don’tcha know.

    LukeOZ wrote on September 2nd, 2011
  24. I was a vegetarian for 16 1/2 years before I started eating animals again, this past spring. Two years ago I started developing iron-deficiency anemia, and I finally refused to put up with the fatigue, constant cold, and general feelings of ill health.

    Yes, the first few bites of fish were tough. But I never had any digestive problems. Liver was next–it’s so gosh-darn healthy! Finally my body said that it wanted to try some grass-fed beef, and the rest is history. Fortunately I live where I can get all my meat from local, pasture-based ranches.

    The clincher that this new way is best for me? Last Friday I was able to donate blood for the first time in seven years. Years of anemia cured by five months of a predominantly-primal lifestyle. I feel vital.

    Melly Sue wrote on September 2nd, 2011
    • LIVER was second? WOW! Most lifelong meat-eaters won’t touch liver, so I’m surprised.

      One of my first post-vegetarian meals was a whole Cornish game hen. I laughed, it seemed so absurd to eschew meats for years and years, then eat a whole animal right off the bat.

      halek wrote on September 7th, 2011
  25. I’ve never been a vegetarian, never wanted to be. Grew up on a potato farm in Northern Maine. We had meat three times a day, and here we have it twice a day. I have had no problems giving up certain veggies and no problems whatsoever giving up grains. I have no intention of eating insects – when my favorite animal is steak! Here in Montana we call them “Slow Elk” and they are mostly grass fed.

    Gina Gagnon wrote on September 3rd, 2011
  26. I grew up in a modern hunter-gatherer/small farm family. We didn’t have much money, so my family raised or hunted our own food. At only 6 years old I would help my dad butcher rabbits. He taught me the ways of nature. Animals eat other animals. He was reverent and grateful. I became a vegetarian as a teenager and remained so until I started running with a troupe of Irish Dancers. (Remember that scene in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where the groom tells the mother that he’s a vegetarian and she offers him lamb? The Irish are sort of like that! HA) Anyhow, I went on a vegetable fast for two weeks and felt so great that I gave up meat. I didn’t think that perhaps it was bread and other grains that were making me feel so terrible. Anyhow, thanks to the Irish, I got back into real foods, but it took me many years to talk myself into giving up grains as well.

    Unshod Sarah wrote on September 4th, 2011
  27. I was one of those bleeding heart kids who never could get past the idea of killing animals, so I became a vegetarian as a teenager and continued for over 20 years, being vegan for part of that. After struggling with many health concerns including severe anemia and thyroid disease (imagine my shock when my endocrinologist advised me not to eat soy and my doctor begged me to start eating meat), I eventually began to include meat in my diet.

    Really, it was spending some time in Africa that spelled the beginning of the end of my vegetarianism. I think we are often so removed from the natural order of things, we forget that animals eat other animals, and it’s neither humane nor pretty when they do so. We are animals, no more and no less.

    Over time, I transitioned to raising our own chickens for eggs, and buying local humanely raised pastured meat that I’ve looked in the eye. Reading The Vegetarian Myth was like looking in the mirror for me, and it really helped me to see the reality of the fact that there is no life without death, and that we cannot eat without killing something. Acknowledging that was key for me. Now, I can honor what I kill and ensure that it’s environmentally as local and responsible as I can make it.

    This post is as thoughtful and helpful as everything Mark writes! For myself, I had very little difficulty transitioning, though it was several months before I could handle and cook the raw meat myself. Now, no problem!

    Robin wrote on September 7th, 2011
  28. I was vegetarian for 8 years. I managed to stick to my diet despite living with meat-eaters, and ironically when I moved out on my own I started eating more meat than I ever had in my life. I cooked my own meals or ate selectively when I lived at home, but I moved in with my meat-loving boyfriend and it just plain became easier to eat meat. I wasn’t going to make two meals to satisfy both of us.

    I started with poultry and fish since it would be less likely to upset my stomach, then after about two years I started introducing red meat. Now my favorite foods are steak and bacon.

    To be honest I’m not sure why I was vegetarian to begin with. I think some videos from PETA pushed me towards that direction, along with some religious beliefs, but I think I stuck with it out of habit long after those things were relevant to me. (Obviously animal welfare will always be relevant to me, but it never occurred to me that I should eat humanely raised meats.)

    halek wrote on September 7th, 2011
  29. Great Article! I made the jump. Was a Vegetarian for 22 years, (poor) husband was too. Our Children never had meat either until recently.
    I had big concerns about being able to digest, did miss bacon so I guess textbook. We started out with a Christmas Turkey, then Chicken, Bacon and eventually red meat. We started out with one meal a week with meat incorporated now we are almost an every meal meat family after about two years.
    One big note is we only bought good, grain fed or organic meat…There are so many options in markets now, much more so that in 1989-

    Stacy Rippy wrote on September 13th, 2011
  30. For me, I’ve given up all meat and junk food. Not saying meat is junk food though. I have absolutely no craving for junk food or meat whenever I see people eat them. I’ve also learned to get protein from limited fruit, limited roots, limited grains, limited legumes (fermented only), nuts, and a lot of vegetables. I do eat eggs as well, and some plain yoghurt when I have the chance to. Fat and protein, I have them all.

    Saab wrote on September 14th, 2011
  31. I’ve been reading Mark’s Daily Apple for a month now. I’ve had Type 1 diabetes for almost 22 years (since I was 2 years old) and been vegan for 5.

    Recently, I’ve developed some extensive food allergies and intolerance (dairy, wheat/rye/barley, soy, peanuts/peas/lentils/legumes, corn, coffee, alcohol, vinegar, citrus, fake sugars, spicy foods, and seafood/shellfish. Whew!) These food makes me nauseous and vomit.

    Naturally, I need to start eating meat again (I’ve been re-introducing eggs slowly into my diet, but nothing else so far). A former personal trainer told me about the Paleo diet and Mark’s Daily Apple, so I’ve been reading about both.

    The problem with meat for me is less to do with morality, and more to do with psychology. I’m terrified of those gross hormones and fillers (often corn or soy) that are put into animals nowadays, as well as the toxins that factory-farming and poor storage can introduce into meat. Even when faced with supposedly organic meat and eggs, I am skeptical and scared of not knowing what I’m putting in my body. I realize that the same problems can be found with “organic” vegetables and non-animal products as well, but I have more experience growing these myself, or finding local products that I know are good. I don’t think I’m quite up for raising or slaughtering my own animals just yet!

    Does anyone have any suggestions for getting around these psychological blocks, as well as tips for finding untainted meat products? I’ve already googled some farms in my area, and am planning on touring one in the next month or so, but other ideas would be appreciated.

    felstar wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  32. I’m vegan and I just stumbled upon this blog via a post about too much cardio being bad (which was very interesting btw!)

    I’ve just read this whole comment thread totally fascinated!

    What has all these vegetarians and vegans running back to meat after 12-20 years? I’m used to reading the vegan forums where the comment threads say all the same things, just in favor of veganism :)

    So what’s the deal?

    Do some people just need meat and others don’t? Is a change as good as a holiday? Is meat supposed to be better for all people? If so, what is it about meat that makes it better e.g. what am I missing by eating a vegan diet that includes the same levels of iron, B12, etc.?

    I’m not looking to start a flame war here although I know it’s a sensitive topic. All I can say is most of my friends are omnivores and I love and respect them and their decisions as much as my vegan friends.

    vegan wrote on November 16th, 2011
    • I think we are still genetically predisposed to be omnivores. Just look at our teeth, they were designed for ripping and tearing meat from bone and for grinding vegetable matter. Personally, I get cravings for both plant and animal, so I think it’s still pretty natural. I love being Primal and have never felt better. To each his own, though.

      Nicole wrote on June 13th, 2012
  33. I have tried going veggie twice..first time I lasted a little over a year,this time around 3 months (I had chicken today)..even though I drank a nutritional shake daily I always felt tired.I must say both times when I went back to eating meat ,I attacked it like a werewolf.I craved it, so I am thinking our bodies may need it.

    Goody wrote on November 21st, 2011
  34. Well, I don’t think we need a guide for vegetarians to transition back to meat.

    The priority should always be SAD eaters who need to ditch their processed meat and eat real meat, ditch their sugar and eat real vegetables.

    And for vegetarians who follow an unhealthy diet to ditch processed fake meat, excess starch, unfermented soy and etc.

    Rush wrote on December 9th, 2011
  35. I prefer to Live on road-kills and SPCA Puppies and Kitties…It is alot better for the planet to not have to raise them for food…There are so many pets that are put to sleep and are wasted…well took me a little bit of time to get over the killing and cleaning of the baby puppies and all, but now I gotta admit they make a mean stir fry…all my friends think don’t even know. In fact, I am roasting a little weiner dog right now! Yum! who says you can’t be both green and a meat eater!

    matt wrote on December 9th, 2011
  36. Thanks for writing this, Mark. I have been mostly veggie for about 4.5 years and was vegan for 2 of those years. I have been sick lately with anemia and other fatigue-causing illness. My doctor actually told me my cholesterol was too low – I didn’t even think that was possible. As committed as I have been to my lifestyle, I’ve decided that I need to do this for my own health. Your Primal theory interests me, and I am excited to give it a try, although every one of the concerns you list above is on my mind. Wish me luck.

    Kelly wrote on April 6th, 2012
  37. I was raised vegan, and it wasn’t until just before my 19th birthday that I completely let go of that. Growing up, I hated the smell of meat at stores, restaurants, and with my family. I also couldn’t digest it. When I finally transitioned over (I tried a boyfriend’s lamb curry and then spent the entire summer eating nearly nothing but meaty Indian food), however, it was no longer a problem. I’d spent the last few years trying my friends’ meat dishes more and more frequently. I’ve only more recently (at 21) started eating eggs, milk, and cheese – my boyfriend has (fortunately for my taste buds, unfortunately for the various health reasons) taught me how to cook the standard American breakfast foods…
    But, the point is this: I started out hating meat in every way. I’ve since become a lover of turkey, of steak, of chicken and bacon and lamb. A good, meaty meal is one of my greatest joys, and I can thoroughly enjoy them even while contemplating that what I am eating was once a living, breathing, active animal.
    I do, however, still have morals regarding animal and environment abuse. And pasture-raised, organic stuff is terribly expensive.

    Rose wrote on June 13th, 2012
  38. I have been vegetarian since I was 5 years old and I am now 20. Due to somewhere I am moving to I am going to have to eat meat. I am dreading this because I love animals so much, that’s the main issue for me.

    Lucy wrote on July 23rd, 2012
  39. I’m an unapologetic vegan who just listens to her body. People always say veganism is just a short term thing but it’s been years and after improved vision, energy, mood, digestion, and blood counts, I can’t see myself ever eating meat or dairy again. Of course, I eat a very balanced, healthy, whole foods diet. I’m sure most people who poo poo veganism never ate like me.

    Laura wrote on August 30th, 2012
    • Oh, and I just wanted to add, my blood counts improved INSANELY after going vegan. I was anemic and my eyesight was failing rapidly. A short hike would wear me out. Now, my blood work is PERFECT and I no longer need glasses. It’s been 5 years, so I really hope this lasts… my grandma lived to be a HEALTHY 97 on a 95% plant based diet (she did use some eggs and dairy in her breads and casseroles). My dads side of the family all raised their own animals for slaughter/dairy/and eggs and they literally all died before they hit 50. It must be in my genes to be a vegan.

      Laura wrote on August 30th, 2012
  40. I was raised vegetarian and, due to health issues, recently started eating meat. I’m taking it slow, and have found that connecting with my primal side has been VERY helpful in getting me past the “ick” feeling.
    My only problem at this point is getting my kids (2 girls- 7 and 4) to eat meat. I’ve tried getting them involved in the cooking process to get them excited about it, which they are until it’s actually sitting on a plate in front of them. Any suggestions?

    Adina wrote on September 27th, 2012

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