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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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September 01 2011

How to Eat Meat: Transitioning Away from Vegetarianism

By Mark Sisson
234 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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234 thoughts on “How to Eat Meat: Transitioning Away from Vegetarianism”

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  1. You could always eat insects instead 🙂

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

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

    1. 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!

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

      2. 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.

        1. Where abouts in Ireland are you?

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

      3. 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.

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

      1. 🙂 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…)?

        1. 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.

      2. 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.

      3. 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.

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

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

          1. Hi Kristie, thank you for sharing . If you have any tips on digestion or medical professionals that helped you , I’d love to hear !!!
            I grew up vegan, got sick at age 18 and recovered through eating organically and trying out eggs. I now eat eggs and fish and have dabbled in a myriad of other meats but I get really bad gallstones and breadt tenderness from the heavy fats. I’m also pernicious anemic (b12). If you have any resources, I’d love that !! This lil body of mine needs blood !! My goal someday is to eat venison regularly 🙂

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

    3. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

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

        4. 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 🙂

      1. 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.

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

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

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

          1. Interesting that the vegetarian diet assisted with meditation. I found the opposite to be true. I struggled with meditation for years as a long term vegetarian until I finally quit, ate meat and healed my gut. Voila! Finally my mind was clear and quiet and settled and meditation was immensely improved. Each to his and her own, I guess!

        2. 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!

        3. 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

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

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

    1. “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

    2. It’s been about three years for me. I’m still struggling with the guilt of eating meat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. 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.

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

    3. 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 🙂

      1. 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.

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

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

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

    1. 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.

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

  6. I am so blessed to have eaten meat my entire 23 years of life…

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

    Thank you primal life!

  7. Start with bacon, it seems to be the “gateway” meat for many vegetarians before moving on to harder carnivorous pursuits.

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

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. 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.

  8. Here is a tip… Eat chicken!

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

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

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

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

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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!

    2. 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.

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

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

    All in all, I say, “Go for it”!

    1. 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! 🙂

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

    1. 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…

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

      2. 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.

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

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

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

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

    1. 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.

      1. 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)

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

        3. I always find it interesting when people think that if you kill an animal through hunting that it is somehow more humane than a production feed lot or CAFO. How do we really know?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. 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…

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

    1. 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.

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

        1. 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..

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

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

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

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

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

    1. 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! 🙂

      1. 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.

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

    2. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

        1. 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.

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

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

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

        1. 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,

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

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

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

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

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

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

    1. 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…)

      1. Yes another one here, grandmother be an vegetarian as a teenager, father was raised by her as a vegetarian and then he raised us all vegetarian. I probably had my first mouthful of meat in my early 30s…found it chewy and tasteless & my head was full of my parents voices telling me how bad eating meat is…..took me years to try it again. Now contemplating introducing it – hence finding this blog post as I look for tips! Have managed to find a few chicken dishes I can eat, but struggling to bring myself to taste any other meats.

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

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

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

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

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

      1. Currently and for the last 5 years an ovo-lacto vegetarian here. I agree completely with your post. I’m about to go pescetarian on my journey back to omnivore. I think all this soy is affecting me negatively.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  27. Brilliant, as always. And many wonderful replies.

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

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

    1. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

        {sigh} Rant over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

    3. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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

    🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. 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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      2. I don’t believe in that saying either. It should be “A moderate amount of things in moderation”!

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

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

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

        1. It depends what you mean by “dairy”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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!

  42. 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!?

  43. 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.

  44. 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!

  45. 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.”)

  46. 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.

  47. 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!

  48. 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.

  49. 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

    1. 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!

  50. 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.

  51. 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).

  52. 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.

  53. 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!

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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!

  57. 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. 😉

  58. 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?

  59. 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.

  60. “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.

  61. 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.

    1. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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!

  65. 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.)

  66. 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-

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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.

    1. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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!

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

    1. 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.

  77. 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?

  78. the other week i slaughtered a duck (which i raised) for thanksgiving. i have fond memories of loving to eat duck. i managed to get thru 4 bites — flavour was fine BUT the aftertaste — a wet dog taste — i couldn’t handle. it’s the same with broth snuck into ‘vegetarian’ food. it’s the thick, tongue coating wet dog taste that makes me nearly gag.

    i quit eating creatures with feet in the mid 80s. i try occasionally to eat creatures. even fish are hard for me to eat now. i was really looking forward to the duck. the other folks at dinner said it was absolutely delicious. i think i will have to be very, very, very hungry before i’m able to eat meat. and then it will be for survival, not enjoyment. it’s too bad. i finally created an environment where i can raise the animals for my dinner & the taste is unappealing.

    at least my omnivore friends will be happy — i always have extra critters to cook up for them.

  79. My mum raised me as a vegetarian so for 24 (nearly 25) years I have not been eating meat. My mum will always claim that she gave me choice in the matter but I have very clear memories of going shopping and asking for ham for my sandwiches, sausages in the chip shop, glazed ribs at a BBQ and various other meat dishes I came across only for her to say things like “but it’s a dead pig/cow/sheep!” and for her to tell me things in the most gruesome way that I feel has left very deep mental scars. She used to let me eat fish without kicking up a fuss but the more she said about meat the more applied to it fish as well, and it has even begun to encroach on the vegetarian foods I eat so I am now worried about becoming malnourished. My husband is a very patient and encouraging man and he has said that he will help me in whatever way he can and now that I have read this very helpful article I think we can begin my road to a healthy lifestyle (and mindset!). Thank you, I cannot say how much you have helped me!

    1. Hi Natasha, I recently came across this post and your comment. I know its been a while and wanted to know how your progress went with your mother? Did you face challenges when they figured you switched over to consuming meats? I relate to your experience as a child however I never got to asking to eat meat because the comments came in first. So I thought I never wanted it. But I have been thinking including some meat to my diet to maintain a balanced diet but see myself struggling with being open about it.

  80. I haven’t beef or pork since I was 13 years old. I stopped eating chicken and seafood when I was 18 – I’m now 35. At 19 I became vegan and was so for 13 years. I realized that I had developed a soy intolerance and needed to get my proteins from other sources so I reintroduced dairy and eggs back into my diet. I definitely felt better but I knew I was lacking something so about 7 months ago I started eating seafood. I love it. I’ve have gone back and forth on the idea of introducing other meats but there is something holding me back. I think the majority of it is guilt. i don’t feel as bad about eating seafod but chicken, beef and pork…I’m not sure how to get over that.

  81. Dear Mark, great article/great website – much appreciated.

    However, you did not address the #1 reason for many people (including me) going vegetarian, which is the resources issue – which is also a morality-based component.

    The figures vary, based on who you talk to, but it is something like 4-10 vegetarian meals worth of ground resources go into feeding a cow enough that it will provide one meat meal (burger, steak, etc).

    Knowing that, in addition to the massive starvation problem in the world, how do you rationalize choosing to have a meat meal, knowing that the world will lose out on 4-10 vegetarian meals for you to do so?

    Thanks much!

  82. I came to this article because I’ve been reading about PB, but I hate red meat and eggs. I don’t mind Hormel Naturals deli turkey (no toxic preservatives) or canned tuna, but everything else just turns me off. So I’m wondering if the PB eating plan is viable for me.

  83. Just a brief anecdote of encouragement from an ex-10 year vegetarian (“over half my life” sounds more daunting, of course): last Sunday I wolfed down a good 6 oz of blue-rare ribeye, and it did me no wrong at all. In my case, all the aversion was mental, and surprisingly easy to overcome in the end once I just did it.

  84. I’m 26 and at the age of 9, decided I no longer wanted to eat any kind of meat. What had led to this decision was multicausal – Firstly, my older sister was then working at a local Deli and would come home with appalling non-hygiene, horror stories. Secondly and further cementing my decision was a regular trip up to our country property and a visit to a cow that I’d always go and pat, who’d now been re-located to the freezer. In fact the owner casually asked me “would I like some Bell to try?” This intrinsic link had always been separate for me as a meat-loving kid – until that moment.
    17 years on, healthy and fit, I still haven’t touched land-meat (I began eating seafood again 5 years ago) in-fact I still have no desire toward meat whatsoever. However, my personal preference has been challenged by my new partner, who is very bothered by my ‘pescatarianism’ and out of love for him and a pragmatic stand-point (combined eating/ease) – I want to try to begin to introduce meat back into my life.
    As a nutritionist I know the benefits of lean meat in moderation, but overcoming the fears and years of conditioning one can do to oneself I’m on struggle street. Loving reading about everyone’s journey! Thank you.

  85. Hi, im at the point where i started vegertarianism at a young age, disagree with my reasoning all those years ago and now cant decide if i can go back. I have been veggie 6 years and its very hard to bare the thought of eating meat. It must be psychological i am at the stage where i want to go back but i feel there is a block and its a anxiety that wont defer my mind from thinking about the food as food and not an animal. This is very hard but must sound so foolish to anyone who hasnt been a veggie

  86. I have been a vegetarian for 40 years (since I was 4). I would love to add sea food and eggs to my diet, but am having a very difficult time as I find them disgusting. Just the thought makes me sick. Would love to hear from someone in a similar situation that was successful with this!

    1. Hi
      I have been vegetarian for 20 years. I just started eating eggs last year. I hope it worked out for you. It really grossed me out too. The texture and flavour of eggs is hard for me. I find scrambled with cheese and a bit of coconut oil, salt and pepper and a bit of green onion to be good. Especially amazing is basil and goat cheese.
      The way I got past the block (mostly.. I still have a little trouble) was to start by adding a LOT of veggies an scrambling. Also when I was scrambling the eggs in the bowl I would add a dollop of salsa, then add veggies and dump in the pan. I found it changed the flavour just enough to start easing me into eating them. Then over time I was able to make it less and less. Now I am able to eat just scrambled eggs if that’s they way they are made, but still prefer with cheese. I sometimes get a bit of that same aversion, but I also find that I crave eggs like crazy, and am much more healthy. I used to be iron deficient, and even got turned away from a blood donation clinic, and now am told every time I go that my iron is fantastic. If you haven’t already incorporated eggs into your diet, I strongly recommend you give it a shot. But make sure you buy organic farm eggs. YUM!

  87. This is a great post & I’ve enjoyed reading all the comments.

    I finally see someone who has been a vegetarian longer than i have (Jane, above, 40 years). I’m technically a pescetarian & have been for 32 years this August – no red meat or poultry. I just got into the paleo-style diet a few weeks ago and it makes a lot of sense to me. Since I started the diet I’ve considered eating meat but like some others here I can barely tolerate the idea – especially beef. I just can’t think of it as food, and not animal. If I did eat it, I would need to know it was humanely raised (as best as we can know these things).

    It’s kind of interesting that Mark hasn’t convinced his wife to eat meat, though!

  88. Let me preface my comments by noting that Mark is one of the more insightful, articulate and inspirational health transformational people out there. In additional to much of his advice that I agree with he has pointed me to some other resources like leangains, a protocol I am now following and really getting ripped for a 60 year old guy. I have been a vegetarian for about 12 years. I eliminated / minimized grain intake about two years ago and it was the missing link, I was always pretty healthy but I dropped about 25 pounds without trying (I’m now lifting heavy to try to muscle up a bit, was doing a lot of functional training). I eat a lot of free range eggs and drink a couple of whey protein drinks each day, so I am far from vegan. Not everyone can afford to take in the kind of protein I do, I realize. If I was stranded on a desert island I would try to track down some game, otherwise, just not something I can do any more.

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  90. I have recently begun transitioning from gluten free/vegan to paleo for health purposes and needing to eliminate grains. While i can eat meat if I don’t think about it, I don’t love the taste or texture if its not covered up well, and reading these comments made me gag multiple times. Meat has always grossed me out. I hope that I can address health issues and be primarily vegan whilst maintaining balance in my body down the road.

  91. My girlfriend eats eggs, fish, and has dairy products. However she can not eat meat she will get sick and will throw up. The weird thing is tho that she can eat stomach or heart. Than it is fine. This started after one day she got hospitalized because of some bad food, most likely it was bad meat. She wants to try to eat meat again. Any suggestions or comments on this?

  92. I’ve been vegetarian for over 20 years. Basically since I realized that I could decide what I wanted to eat. I’m 30 now, and have been thinking about trying to have chicken for a couple of years, but not seriously until today. I bought some farm raised chicken and brought it home, but I’m not sure I can do it. I’m having a hard time with the eating flesh from a dead body part. I’ve never wanted meat in my life. It wasn’t much of a decision to stop eating it, and It’s never been an effort. It’s just a fact of life for me. But something is messed up, and tests don’t show anything really wrong with me. So I feel like I should try this to see if it helps. So is there any advice out there from anyone like me who never wanted to eat meat, and decided to integrate it into their diet after a long time without it. I should note that I didn’t hate the taste of chicken as a child. It was the psychological block for me. Other meats I didn’t like. But chicken wasn’t a problem. That’s why I’m trying out chicken and not something else (like bacon. That likely will never happen).
    Thanks

  93. What meats are the best to start with?
    My doctor recommended tartar, like lamb or beef, since they’re soft.
    My biggest issue is the texture of meat! You have to chew an eternity!!! Can anyone recommend how to transition into the tough texture aspects of meat?

  94. I had been pescatarian for 23 years until transitioning to paleo/primal 3 months ago. I had been having gut issues (bloating and stomach cramps) with occasional food poisoning symptoms after eating fish, losing whole days to it so decided to experiments with primal. Initially I didn’t eat red meat & fowl but restricting my diet even further than pesca was very limiting. Farming practice was my reason for cutting meat and my ‘beef’ was with meateaters not taking personal responsibility. (I’m amazed at the numbers of meateaters who are squeamish about knowing how it is produced.) I tried some roasted lamb and had indigestion – the meat felt ‘stuck’ and I was constipated. I restarted on free range chicken broth to get my stomach used to it with the addition of high probiotics (20 billion). Chicken, sausages (98% meat variety) and bacon seemed ok but large pieces of meat are still hard to digest. Maybe as an ex-pesca I need to learn to chew more!
    I don’t understand the paleo/primal community’s addiction to bacon – it seems the most processed meat – so maybe someone could help me with that? As far as farming practice is concerned it is the furthest from nature too. In the UK it’s hard to get fully outdoor raised pork and the closest has been pricey sausages & bacon sold as outdoor bred but on closer reading that is outdoors until weaned at 4 weeks then fattened in straw barns.
    I feel we should be flexitarian – eating a wide range of food including all meats fish & veggies, including days that would be meat-free, as I find the paleo approach focuses too heavily on meat. Surely the caveman wouldn’t have that many kills? And if an animal was brought down every scrap would be eaten not just the sirloin?
    Btw this lifestyle has really helped my digestion and have lost 15lb as a byproduct. I still have a few bloating issues but I think that is dairy and will do the Whole 30 to experiment.

  95. I have been vegan and vegetarian for over 25 years. I am having thyroid problems among other things and Doc/people believe eating meat will help. I recently started taking fish oil which was a huge step for me. I am trying to decide if I want to take the leap to animal based broth or not perhaps mixed into foods. Then on to something else but not really sure what that would be, I am one who is grossed out by meat products. This is an extremely hard transition to make when I have been vegan/vegetarian since I was 15 years old. Very hard.

  96. I have been strictly vegan for a year now but my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and I read a vegan diet can help prevent cancer. I used to be a huge cheese eater and occasional meat but mostly dairy products. I had major stomach problems, anxiety issues, and overweight. Also was about to turn 21 so all that going on for someone my age was difficult ( I understand it’s difficult for everyone no matter what their age is, my mother has most of those problems as well). After turning vegan I lost 23 pounds, most of my digestion problems were gone and my anxiety attacks were down to once a month instead of once a day….UNTIL month before last. I started feeling lightheaded, dizzy, tired and started having anxiety attacks again. I ended up passing out at my job where I worked in a kitchen and found out (among other things) that I was anemic and was missing numerous vitamins from my diet even though my veggie, fruit and bean and grain intake was awesome. It was recommended that I try to incorporate fish, chicken, and possibly red meat into my diet but no one would tell me how to do it without getting sick. I am so thankful to find someone who seems to know what they’re talking about and makes it to where I understood it. Any advice on what I should eat for the first time? I’ve read all these comments but honestly cannot remember anything haha. Any recipes even? I make lots of chicken and meat items for my family I just don’t eat it myself until now I guess lol

  97. I was raised vegetarian, but have been eating paleo/primally for about a year now. I don’t have many issues with eating meat (aside from the texture of fat that grosses me out) but I am struggling with cooking it. I am at the point where I can handle fish fillets and chicken breasts and bacon raw, and once they’re cooked they’re fine, but recently I’ve been wanting to try roasting a whole chicken and I can’t bring myself to be okay with removing the innards and having to wipe out the blood from the cavity. It makes me queasy and I’m prone to fainting, and I really don’t want to faint in a kitchen full of sharp knives and stuff…I was wondering if anyone else had the same problems and how they overcame them…thanks!

  98. I’ve been vegetarian for about 9 years now (maybe 10…I’ve lost track!), however I did eat meat and enjoy it very much for the previous 25 years or so of my life. Because of this, I still enjoy turkey at every Thanksgiving, and I basically eat whatever I want on Christmas Eve & Christmas. This includes ham, meatballs, sausage, and various types of fish. I’ve never experienced any sort of problem digesting these things, even though I don’t eat them for 362 days a year. It’s all in your head. There are certainly things that may make you sick…you know better than anyone else what you’re capable of eating and what will make you feel sick. Don’t let anyone else judge you for what you eat, and eat what makes YOU feel comfortable. It’s nobody’s choice but yours.

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  100. I went vegan for a while and suffered SEVERE constipation. I thought it couldn’t get any worse, and I’m sure it couldn’t have. I switched back to vegetarianism and then things got a little better. Now I eat meat and dair with very few veggies, some fruits, and plenty starches. I can’t eat salads and pineapples b/c they just don’t pass as easily as baked potatoes, blue cheese, or turkey. Our genetics shape the way we SHOULD be eating. In other words, I do best on what my babuschka Esther cooked at home.:)

  101. I have been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for 25 years and have (after much ruminating) decided to transition back to being a full omnivore.

    There are many reasons that led me to this decision, not the least of which is convenience! I now have a husband who is a competitive athlete and children. I am tired of “what are we going to cook for Thanksgiving?!” and labor-intensive, complicated, exotic ingredient vegetarian meals that sometimes are not sasatisfying and lead to grumbling stomachs within an hour. Also, I have IBS symptoms despite never eating fast food or pop/most junk.

    I happily consume butter, eggs, yogurt etc. Eggs don’t bother me at all so incorporating meat into my diet shouldn’t be too hard?!

  102. Thanks for this. I’ve been a vegetarian for 10 years and it’s been great for me, but in the last few months I’ve been craving meat so strongly. I’ve become anemic, I’ve started gaining weight, and I now realize that my diet isn’t working for me anymore. Tomorrow, I’m taking the plunge. The psychological aspect is the biggest thing for me, and I’m quite nervous, but it’s something I have to do.

    Anyway, I realize this article is years old, but I found it helpful. So thanks.

  103. Due to an issue with my current pregnancy and low fetus weight, I want to eat meat. I can eat eggs and bacon, and I think it’s because they aren’t hidden. That seems counter intuitive, but if the meat is in a curry or otherwise disguised, I feel close to puking with just the thought of eating it. I also can’t imagine eating beef yet. So what would you MDA’ers recommend? Jerky? Strips of dry turkey? Thanks for any suggestions. I’m really in a bad place mentally worrying about my baby.

  104. I was raised as vegetarian. I am kind of lacto vegetarian. I never eat eggs or chicken or any meat. I find meat to be very healthy source of protein (i m kind of underweight) So i went to restaurant and ordered chicken manchurian soup. Following things just hinder my progress on non veg path

    1. I am afraid of texture of chicken meat
    2. and when i chew i can smell some blood like odors. I really can’t endure this. Any tips please.
    3. I have never tasted egg. Please give me tips. I heard that omelette smells bad.

    I have been vegetarian for 25 years. I really want to accept chicken meat and egg into my diet.
    Please help me.

    1. Hi Ajay
      I see that it’s a while since you posted this, I would really like to hear about you progress as I was also raised as a vegetarian and lately have been considering introducing meat and faced some obstacle with the texture and smell. I am also struggling a little bit on psychological and somewhat on a moral scale with introducing chicken into my daily diet,
      Did you have any issues coping with yourself? I don’t want to compromise my health because I was raised as a vegetarian.
      Thank you,

      1. I have had similar issues in adding meat to my diet. There are occassions where I can eat meat after strong resolve but I always have doubts / guilt after eating meat. But I do notice that meat consumption does help me with my overall health. There might be some nutritions that my veg diet is not able to provide for. I have been raised as a vegetarian and tried meat when I was 26. Have been experimenting with meat for a few years but still not a full on meat eater.hope that helps.

  105. I’ve read some crap before, but this article is possibly the worst. Nutrition from meat? Aha. Protein and Iron is ALL meat provides, which can be obtained from far healthier sources. If these people are truly trying to be healthy, avoid meat completely.

  106. Hi, I haven’t eaten beef for the past 4 years and I’m looking at starting to eat it again, because I eat other meats such as pork, chicken etc will this help with digesting beef for the first time again or how should I do it?

  107. I am worried about converting back to eating meat, I’ve been a vegetarian for about 5 months now and it’s not good for me. I am losing weigh too much weight. I started off at 106 now weight 97. How should I conver back, what should I eat. I have continued to eat eggs and fish during being a vegetarian. Any input is great. I just don’t want to be ill.

  108. Do all of these points apply to someone who has been vegetarian their entire lives? You made several comments about people who have been vegetarian for a few years – that they likely still have the proper enzymes and that their love for the taste would likely come back quickly, etc. I was raised vegetarian, and am now being told that because of a recent diagnosis, my best way to combat my new health issue is a strict diet. This diet’s only protein source is meat. I am truly baffled with how to get past all of this and get used to eating meat. I have every single issue you mentioned in your article. I desperately want to improve my health and my level of pain, but feel quite paralyzed at the moment.

  109. Thank you for this. Listening to Joe Rogan talk to a former vegetarian on his podcast was really an eye-opener. I also follow a few AIP Paleo fans of yours on social media, and am looking to have the healthiest diet I can manage… even if it included meat. I’m looking forward to even more variety in my meals!

  110. Thank you for this wonderful post! I have been raw and raw/vegan for awhile now. I am not at optimal health and wanted to eat more foods. Seems like when I try to eat meat I get so sick…ie vomting all day. I have been searching for a way to incorporate meat again. Thanks for the info!!!!

  111. I know this was posted years ago, but I was a vegetarian for 6 years back home in Ireland, with no problem but as I’ve moved to Japan to study for a year, it is almost impossible, the vegetables in price are sky high, tofu is plenty but it’s not good to eat that too often, and as I’m a student, I don’t actually have time to cook every day, and all the food offered on Uni campus contains meat as does all the meals offered in restaurants. So I’ve just given in, I began to eat meat because it was easier than cooking every day and missing out on new experiences with new friends (which may sound stupid but how often will I get to study in Japan with new people and make new life experiences? And food is such a huge part of it, especially in Japan) so I have started to eat meat and fish again, after 6 years, and suddenly I realised I loved it. I was 14/15 when I stopped eating meat, and had been incredibly picky eater at that point, and meat was one of the many things I couldn’t stomach. Now I love it. I have been experiencing some digestive issues, but I’m honestly loving all this new food I can eat, though I’m still struggling with the moral aspect of it.

  112. hi i have been vegetarian for 3 years im 25 years old and i suffer from anemia and a whole lot of other problems such as o.c.d and things due to becoming vegetarian and i think i should add meat to my diet but like other people i hate the abuse and needless death of the animals, please help! what should i do?

  113. I was raised a vegetarian from the womb and started eating meat when I was 22 years old. My first significant amount of meat included a greasy sandwich of meatballs and pepperoni. It did not make me sick. Next, I ate steak. I found I much prefer red meat.
    Since my family is vegetarian for religious reasons concerned with incurring karma from violence of killing, I didn’t really have a ton of hangups on a lot of these issues, but I do now try to be conscious of where my meat comes from.
    This is a good article and I’m glad you’re spending your time spreading accurate information. Thank you.

  114. I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years (I was around 4 or 5 years when I transitioned) and while I’ve never had any health issues from my diet and in general have great digestive health (I eat very healthy which is even more important when you choose a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle) I’ve recently made the decision to start eating organic chicken in place of the processed tofu I rely too much on. I’m wondering if I will be okay on a probiotic/enzyme regimen or if I should maybe seek out a doctors advice before seeing as it’s been too long?

  115. Hey there primal friends,
    I’ve been 95% paleo for 6 months now and I’ve transitioned into eating meat after 3 years of being vegetarian since December of 2015.

    During my 3 years of being a vegetarian. I was not sick at all. May tree r of fact I vpupd run an average of 15 miles a week if I wanted to. Sometimes 20 in one day.

    Since returning to meat I’ve been sick… a lot 🙁
    And just so we all know I only choose 100% Grassfed meats.
    A couple flus and lots of migraines.

    I need help.
    Is paleo not for me? I eat plenty of carbs. I’m not ripped but I’m not over weight.
    I could hash out a Crossfit workout if I wanted to however I am lacking a lot of motivation for that… probably because I have a 6 month old baby.

    What do y’all think?

  116. I’ve been a vegetarian for 30 years. I’m 37 years old.
    My health is now requiring me to change my diet and greatly increase my protein intake while maintaining a healthy caloric diet, and I’m allergic to soy.
    Just yesterday I realized that I need to incorporate birds into my diet.
    With a heavy heart I did some soul-searching. I realize that there is so much pride and ego behind my “thirty-year badge of honor”. Last night I decided to give that up for The sake of my health. I’m choosing my life over my ego. Feline I have amazing support at home and ate about a half an ounce of wild caught turkey last night. I think taking it slow is going to be my path. No more than 2 ounces a day, no less than 1 ounce for a while.

  117. Hello friends, I’m looking for resources & reciepes. I’ve been battling trying to eat meat for the first time in my life. I was raised vegan. I’m looking for help ! A doctor ,naturopath or expert that’s been helping others with this transition. You see, I developed Chrons disease from this diet because I ate junk food as a child. I also really just need blood in my body because I’m pernicious anemic and don’t absorb my b12 shots very well ? I eat fish and eggs and my goal someday is to eat venison, but I seem to not be able to digest fats very well. I get cholesterol gallstones so badly that I get dizzy/disorientated everyday. It’s not exactly a hoot n hollar good time. Let me know if you got any good info to pass along ! Thanks ??? Monique

  118. I have been vegan my whole life…. And by that I mean 17 years?
    The thing is that I started to eat meat one day because apparently when you start going to the gym, your body will literally go on a strike unless you give it some really good animal proteins. So I started eating meat one day, it was only weird for a day or two but after that I was really comfortable with it.
    Well after a few months of eating meat I had to stop cause I wasn’t able to go to the gym anymore because of my final exams. This no meat ( majorly chicken) thing went on for like a good 5-6 months in which I went around with a strict vegan diet…. Sure it was a bit dissatisfactory at first but I got used to the vegan lifestyle again. After my exams ended I decided to join the gym again and go for the meat too, well now the weird thing happened that I went to my same favorite chicken place and ordered my usual favorite chicken sandwich but this time I found the smell of that sandwich which I just liked just as recently as a few months ago totally disgusting…. It was rather revolting and almost made me throw that away. I just thought that maybe I’m imagining things and everything will be fine once I take a bite from it. So I took one bite and well…….. As expected I found it to be incredibly foul. I still tried to muster up the courage and take a few more bites but after that I felt disgusting and literally physically ill. The very taste, the sensation in my mouth and the smell of that just felt……. Disgusting. Now I’m trying to get into that omnivorous lifestyle again but I’m having a lot of trouble. I feel really weird eating even a bit of meat and just want to puke. I tried various other shops and dishes but nothing works. I have been reading on the internet as to wat da fuq is going on but there is not much to see. Does anyone have any ideas as to what I should do now? I really want to enjoy meat again and its really necessary for my nutrition as well but I just can’t seem to eat it at all. Can anyone help on this?
    Thanks in advance…..