12 November 2013

Reintroducing Meat to the Vegetarian Tummy

Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Feeding Your Family
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared recipes, stories, and advice about food and eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

For about twelve of my twenty nine years, I was a vegetarian. Ovo-lacto-(experimenting at times with)pesco-vegetarian. I never delved into veganism (like so many vegetarians who can't take that final step, I love dairy... Vegan cheese, while delicious, just isn't cheese, folks...), but I definitely took my no meat mantra pretty seriously.

Then, like many vegetarians, I questioned the role meat could play in my life. Living with a meat-eating boyfriend at the time may have lent some momentum to the argument that reintroducing meat could be a good thing, from a shopping, cooking, and nutritional standpoint (I'm not certain I'd like to debate the many merits of eating or not eating meat... These are certainly personal decisions, weighted with ethics, morals, understanding of nutrition, and many, many other considerations. For me, reintroducing meat into my diet was a personal decision that I stand behind having been a good one).

The daunting part after making that decision? Actually doing it.

I had heard horror stories of how difficult and arduous it was to do - a lot of having to do with digestive health, in particular.

Once I started adding it back in, it really wasn't that bad.

From my experience and research, here are some tips that helped me make the transition!

  • Start slowly. A big, ol' T-Bone is not where to begin. Sip some bony, brothy soup. Slowly work up to adding half a serving of a gentle meat to a salad or sammie. Work up from there.
  • Make sure you keep your gut healthy - keep up or increase your pro- and prebiotic intakes.
  • Tenderize your meat before preparing it. You can use vinegar (or marinades containing vinegar) or meat tenderizers. Look for "natural" tenderizers, like bromelain (or marinade in pineapple!).
  • Start with meat you previously enjoyed. If you didn't like pork, don't reach for bacon. Try to remember what you're favorite dish was and start there. Alternatively, take one of your favorite veggie recipes and substitute a meat of your choice for the protein.
  • Most importantly, listen to your body. If you suffer from indigestion, constipation, or just generally don't feel well after eating meat, eat less meat and gradually work up to a level you are comfortable with. While you're body doesn't lose the ability to digest meat after its absence, it is an adjustment when it is reintroduced.
  • Don't forget about your favorite non-meat proteins. Incorporate these guys in your meals, still.
  • Buy meat conscientiously. Opt for humanely and sustainably-raised meats. Avoid processed meat products and beware of nitrates and other preservatives if buying something convenient (we all eat hot dogs sometimes.. don't worry).
  • Be mindful of the addition of saturated fats and cholesterol to your diet. Make sure that you are eating plenty of other fiber and vitamin-rich foods.
I am not a medical professional, and it is often prudent to discuss a change like this with your primary care physician. From my experience, these are considerations I took while making the transition.

Chicken and Vegetable Soup - A great place to start when transitioning back to meat!
Now, about four years after reintroducing meat, we still eat what I would consider to be "mostly vegetarian." I started slowly with chicken and fish, adding lamb within the first year, and recently letting beef enter the menu. It was a difficult transition at first, but now I am happy with the decision. From numerous standpoints (nutritionally, cost-wise, menu diversity), it has been a positive in our lives.

Have you made the transition from no or limited meat to meatful diet? Any tips you would add? Share in the comments or on the FaceBook.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama
Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon November 12 with all the carnival links.)
  • Nut Free Desserts for the Holidays — Becky at Crafty Garden Mama will be talking about navigating the holidays with peanut allergies in the family.
  • Making Peace with My Picky Eater — Once upon a time, there was a boy who would try anything. And then he turned 3. Thus began the dinner chronicles at Dionna at Code Name: Mama's house.
  • Foodie Morphed by Motherhood — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis reflects on the changes of her family's food culture since becoming a mother, and shares a snapshot of their current food rhythm.
  • Introducing First Foods — Wondering what your little one should take a bite of first? That Mama Gretchen explains baby-led weaning/baby self-feeding and answers a number of questions that may come to mind!
  • Feeding Your Family — Coconut Oil!!! — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama is a coconut oil devotee. In this post, she shares her favorite ways to include coconut oil in her family's diet as well as why she feels it is important to do so.
  • We Thank the Earth for its Food! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle spends hours in the kitchen each day trying to make medicine in the form of food.
  • Focusing on Healthy, Gluten-Free Foods for My Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares what her family is doing to eat healthily along with her recipe for gluten-free peanut butter oat bran muffins.
  • Intolerancesustainablemum laments the misunderstanding surrounding food intolerances.
  • Don't Let Food Sensitivities Ruin Your Holidays! — Rachel, the Titus 2 Homemaker, talks about ways to enjoy the holidays even if you wrestle with food sensitivities.
  • Losing grains, keeping empathy: Paleo and fat acceptance — Lauren at Hobo Mama vlogs about her family's decision to cut grains to improve health — and hopes she can retain her position as a proponent of size acceptance even as she loses weight.
  • Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness.
  • Extended Family Dinners — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about sharing family dinners with housemates and why it works for her.
  • Five Suggestions for Eating Healthy During the Holidays — No need to feel powerless when it comes to our highly sugared/processed food culture during the holidays &emdash; Andrea at It Takes Time offers tips to stay on track.
  • How to feed your family — no food required! — Jessica at JessicaCary.com is kind of obsessed with food. But, lately she's realized there's more to nourishment than what she cooks up in the kitchen.
  • Food as family medicine: living gluten-free and beyond — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama sticks to her gluten-free guns but sees room for improvement in her pursuit of a real-food family table.
  • Feeding My Family — Challenges and Growth — Susan at Together Walking shares what has been most challenging about feeding her two kids and how she has grown in the kitchen since becoming a mother.
  • How I Lost 75 Lbs — What I Eat & My Top 5 Tips — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how she and her family became healthy, happy and active.
  • The Weight of Motherhood — Revolution Momma at Raising a Revolution rethinks her relationship with food after struggling with post-pregnancy weight gain.
  • Geek Food: Pumpkin Pasties — While Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy and family might have food sensitivities, their geekery knows no limits. So, when faced with a desire to recreate Pumpkin Pasties from Harry Potter, they do not shy away!
  • Pumpkin Harvest Muffins — This summer Mama is Inspired and family grew pumpkins, and this autumn they are baking scrumptious, healthy muffins out of those pumpkins.
  • Reintroducing Meat to the Vegetarian Tummy — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares some of the considerations she explored before transitioning from a vegetarian diet to reintroducing meat as a protein source and a few tips on making it an easy one.
  • Thanksgiving Meal, Thankful? — Jorje of Momma Jorje has never felt terribly thankful for Thanksgiving itself. Perhaps that could change if she's a little more invested?
  • 5 Ways to Use Healing Bone Broth — It's that time of year again, when unpleasant little bugs make their way into our homes. For Megan of Boho Mama, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, homemade stock or bone broth is a natural remedy.


  1. My sister recently reintroduced meat into her diet, and she started with fish. I think she'd also agree that finding meat that is ethically raised is important. Me? I'm dairy free (I agree about the cheese) and egg free (Ailia is allergic), but I cannot give up my meat!

  2. I've been vegetarian for 25 years and I can't imagine ever wanting to eat meat again. It was so liberating as a young teenager when my mother threw up her hands one night in defeat and declared that I could finally stop eating meat with the family.
    However, it is interesting to read about your process. Maybe my own son will have to go through a similar process in his teenage years and I will be throwing up my arms up in defeat! It's nice to know that it wouldn't be such a difficult process for him to introduce meat into his body. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It was definitely a difficult decision to make... but I'm confident that it was okay to do. I wasn't eating a very nutritious vegetarian diet, and
      I think adding meat back in helped balance out my nutrition a little.

  3. This sounds very familiar! Sam and I were vegetarian for 7 years and reintroduced meat when I suffered from severe anemia during my first pregnancy. It was odd to get used to eating meat again, and I started with things like pho, but now I enjoy more meats than I did before I became vegetarian. I think knowing I'm choosing good quality from humane suppliers really does help with the emotional and psychological aspects of it. Though I have felt continuing twinges of guilt at being an ex-vegetarian!

    1. I know what you mean... There's some guilt there, especially with my vegetarian friends... But meat is soooooooo goooooooooood. I recently got back into beef. OMG. Hamburgers? Delicious. We don't eat pork, but I definitely got more adventurous when I got back into it. Goat and lamb are my favorite, neither of which I ever had before I was like 26.