leaving las vegas
November 20, 2010 9:09 AM   Subscribe

I need to start eating meat for health reasons, but I hate meat and eggs and always have -- not the concept, but the texture and the taste. Can you help?

I've been a vegetarian my entire independent adult life, and for much of my dependent teenage life too. (I think pepperoni and beef jerky were the last things to go, around age 17, and they are the least meaty meats you can eat.) I do not have a moral problem with eating meat as such, but I do have one with cruel farming practices and certain other ethical issues. Regardless, that shouldn't be the problem depending on how I do my shopping.

The problem is that I always hated meat, eggs, and fish. The texture, the taste, the horror. On occasions when I have had to eat meat for some reason, I've had GI distress afterward.

I can't regard that anymore. I don't want diabetes, and I simply don't think I can lose weight in a healthy, effective way without lean proteins I can only get from meat. Nuts and cheese can go to hell (no baby I didn't mean it don't go I love you). I lost a lot of weight on a vegetarian low-carb diet, the Carbohydrate Addict's Diet, but it made me insane at the end of the day. I need to get used to a source of non-insane-making high-protein food.

I also don't know how to cook meat, poultry, fish or eggs. I'm a good cook and baker otherwise but I don't know how those things work.

If you had a similar life issue, and changed your ways, how did you start?
posted by Countess Elena to Food & Drink (38 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The one thing I would suggest as a happy omnivore is discovering that there is a huge range of types and flavors of meats. I'd suggest trying a lot of things via restaurants, find out what you like and don't like, and then learn how to cook those types of things. I don't see any point in learning to cook something if you don't like it.

Take a meat-tasting expedition; I think that eventually you will find some that you do like.
posted by _DB_ at 9:20 AM on November 20, 2010

Since I'm a mom, I do mom things when I need to get my kid to eat things (and he's mostly cooperative because he likes just about everything), but mixing stuff up is one method I use on him.

Rather than have meat as an entree, what about cooking it in things? Adding chicken or hamburger in small quantities to a lasagne? Making a salad with some slices of chicken? Making a stew that has just a small amount of meat?

Even with your desire to lose weight by incorporating protein heavy items in your diet doesn't mean you necessarily have to start having the protein be the bulk of your meals. Try adding a little here and a little there to foods you already eat and that might help with some of the taste and texture issues.
posted by zizzle at 9:25 AM on November 20, 2010

I think a lot of it depends on how your meat and eggs are cooked. If you grew up eating dry rubbery meat then of course you aren't going to like the texture very much. There are so many different kinds and ways of cooking meat/eggs I can't imagine disliking all of them equally as much.

Do you like a high quality cut of steak cooked pink and tender inside, for example?

What about fall-off-the bone meat that's been cooked for a long time?

How about Chinese barbecued pork, marinated and crispy on the outside?

Do you like fresh, high quality sushi or sashimi at all? On the other extreme, what about fish and chips?

How do you eat your eggs? Most N. American restaurants tend to cook scrambled eggs until they're very dry. Have you ever tried scrambling your eggs such that they're still a bit runny and moist for example?
posted by pravit at 9:29 AM on November 20, 2010

When I did eat meat, I liked it very well done, highly spiced and dry as possible. The moister and blander it was, the more I would stop to think: these are muscle fibers (or, this is fat). This is a creature that lived and was slaughtered . . . Regardless of how ethically that took place, it's a thought to take the wind out of your sails.

zizzle, you bring up a very good point. A vegetarian in the South can't be asking what's in soup broth or whether vegetables were cooked with pork, if she ever wants to eat anything, so I am used to that much. But the kind of healthy food I need is, say, lemony grilled chicken breasts, not delicious cheesy lasagna.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:35 AM on November 20, 2010

I've never been a vegetarian, but my wife was a pescetarian and started eating more meat for pretty much the same reasons as you.

There's not a lot of mystery to cooking meat. As long as you bring it to a safe temperature throughout (there's some room for discussion on the exact number, but it's about 160°F), it's cooked. Get a cooking thermometer if you don't already have one. Also get a cutting board specifically for meat and mark it as such.

Around here we mostly pan-fry either filleted chicken or fish, usually with a bunch of vegetables. (Depending on the seasonings and sauces we throw on, this winds up being Italian-ish, Mexican-ish, or Chinese-ish. Sometimes Indian-ish.) Usually in a non-stick pan with a small amount of oil. You can cut up the chicken into bite-sized chunks and toss them in a bag of flour with salt and pepper before you fry it to change it up a little. Another dead-easy thing to do is to wrap a chicken breast with a tiny bit of oil, some chopped onion, black olives, and sundried tomatoes (or whatever you like) in a tinfoil pouch and bake it (I think it's like 20 minutes at 350°F—don't quote me on that).
posted by adamrice at 9:37 AM on November 20, 2010

I'd consider substituting a lunch for a super shake made with a vegetarian protein powder like Sun Warrior.
posted by TorontoSandy at 9:41 AM on November 20, 2010

I think it would probably be best to start with small amounts of strongly flavored meat. For example, this Thai Cashew Chicken recipe. That dish is not all meat - in fact it's largely vegetables. However, it does have meat in it, and the meat that's in it is strongly infused with other flavors: it's very spicy and sweet, and chicken is not the dominant flavor, although it's still in there.

This and other Asian dishes of this sort (there's a lot of them in Simple Chinese Cooking) can help you dip your toe in the pool, so to speak, more easily than, say, steaks and burgers can. And when you come to appreciate the meat parts of these dishes, you can move on!
posted by ignignokt at 9:42 AM on November 20, 2010

You're going to have to start by getting past the intestinal distress part. When I went back to eating meat, I'd have this problem every time I ate it, which was rare and slowly. I talked to my doctor about it, and he said that after not having eaten meat for so long, I might be lacking the intestinal flora and fauna necessary for digesting it. I should be incorporating something meaty into dishes whenever possible just to build up the ability of my stomach to handle it.

I started doing things like chicken broth made from real chicken to cook rice in, a little bit of meat in a lot of vegetables, making a usual seitan or TVP taco and cutting it with meat, etc. I did start to like high-quality sashimi but that got expensive quickly.

Your best way to get more meat-based protein is likely with eggs. You can "hide" eggs in lots of things and still get the benefit. I do a great high-protein scramble with eggs, cottage cheese (even nonfat has a lot of protein!), flaxseeds, and spinach. It's not very eggy when it's done, and ends up tasting more like spinach dip.

Cheese is a great source of protein but can be very fatty, so I've started adding cottage cheese to things for added creaminess that I'd usually add cheese to, such as creamy soup, dips for snacks, to bulk out sauces.

I also found that eating meat that didn't look like its' animal helped me be able to eat it. For me, that means boneless skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey, shredded beef. Seeing the bone can still sometimes activate my gag reflex because I can visualize it still on the animal, but the amorphous blob of protein is getting to be okay. I still cry a little when I see cornish game hen.
posted by juniperesque at 9:46 AM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

My first thought about getting rid of the texture of meat is to go with, for instance, ground beef. Put it in chili or stew or lasagna or something else. You've got tiny pieces of meat, but it's not a 'this is muscle fiber' kind of experience.

Start yourself off slow, though, to minimize the GI distress. Maybe start making things with beef and chicken broth instead of water? Make otherwise-vegetarian soups with a beef or chicken base, even just a small portion of the liquid. No chunks of meat, but it'll start getting your system up to speed on the whole "we're eating meat!" thing.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:46 AM on November 20, 2010

I'm a former vegetarian, and learning to cook meat has been (and sometimes continues to be) an ongoing challenge. However, in my pre-veg years (I think I was around 16 when I made the switch), I *loved* the taste of animal products. I didn't (and still don't) love handling raw meats and such, though (but this has gotten a lot easier). Do you have any barriers there as far as preparation?

I think my main suggestion for you at this point would be to think in terms of mixtures -- a bit of meat in some soup, for example -- so the meat isn't the star of your meal. I hope this isn't inappropriate to say, but I'm a little concerned about your comment that animal products give you digestive distress. I'm totally not saying you shouldn't be doing this, but I do want to suggest that you maybe work with a professional who can help you figure out how to do this transition in a way that won't cause you physical distress and also won't be gross for you. I am not your nutritionist, but I am a nutritionist, so I want to share that typically the gentlest animal products for most people (not everyone) are white-fleshed fish like halibut and cod. They are also really mild in taste. You can steam them (just like you'd steam a vegetable with a steamer basket insert) and then squeeze on some lemon and sprinkle S&P and some fresh herbs and just add a small serving of that to your usual meal of veg/grains/whatever and see how that goes.

Memail me if you want to talk more. I know the transition can be really hard!! Good luck.
posted by hansbrough at 9:48 AM on November 20, 2010

As a lifelong meateater who stumbled into a vegetarianism for a while (due mainly to the people I was sharing a kitchen with), my problem was the opposite of yours: learning to enjoy a meal that didn't offer the textures of meat (there's just no chew in tofu). How did I accomplish this? I just did, a little bit at a time. A month or two in and I was no longer missing meat (not that much anyway) and had come to notice all kinds of nuance in the ways that veggies could feel and taste. I'm back to eating meat now but near as much as before, and I think nothing of going a few days without.

As for meal-prep specifics, I'd recommend stir-fries with the meat in small (tiny even), well-cooked chunks.

Good luck and as a wise ass once said, "If God didn't want us to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them out of meat."
posted by philip-random at 9:55 AM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

The moister and blander it was, the more I would stop to think: these are muscle fibers (or, this is fat). This is a creature that lived and was slaughtered

This is what's been happening to me lately when I eat meat, particularly when it comes to chicken. I don't eat meat too often (on average, once a week at most), but I don't think it's something I can give up forever.

Have you ever had sujuk? It's a spicy Turkish/Mediterranean beef sausage. Lately, I've taken to chopping a little bit of it up, and stir-frying it with some veggies - an array of peppers, onions, broccoli, and a touch of cilantro. So good! You don't really need to add any spices or flavorings, as there's already a good amount in the sujuk. It's more of a dry sausage, and plenty flavorful.

If this sounds like something you might like, and you live near Boston, the Armenian markets in Watertown carry it, as does Turkuaz on Comm Ave. Just ask them to recommend a particular type depending on your tolerance for some spice.
posted by raztaj at 9:58 AM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe try scrambled egg substitutes, like Eggbeaters or the store brand, as a start? A dose of protein and nothing to fret over text-wise. As far as taste, spice 'em to your heart's content: tabasco, garlic, etc.
posted by 5Q7 at 10:01 AM on November 20, 2010

I would suggest that you look at qeema (minced meat) recipes. They work better with ground beef, but a lot of people use minced chicken instead.

Basic low-fat recipe for 1/2 kg ground meat:

Heat 1 to 2 tsp oil in a pan, over medium to medium high heat
Add 1 medium onion chopped, plus 1 bay leaf, 2 whole black cardamom pods, 3 cloves, 4 black peppercorns (don't you love how sequentially that goes?).
When the onion is nicely golden brown, add the ground meat. Stir around till the colour changes.
Add 1Tbsp garlic paste, 1/2Tbsp ginger paste, stir some more.
Mix 1tsp coriander powder, 1/4tsp turmeric powder, and ground red pepper and salt to taste in a little bit of water, and add to the pan.
Stir around till the whole mixture is nicely brown, moisture has evaporated, and the oil separates from the rest of the food. Since you're not using a lot of oil, you'll need to watch closely for this.
At this point, you can take your choice of adding one large chopped tomato (or more, if you like tomato) or 2Tbsp of low-fat yogurt.
Stir around again, like before, until moisture has evaporated, and oil separates again.
Add a little water, a whole green chili, some chopped coriander and set covered on low heat for 15-20 mins.

Qeema is ready.

The good thing with this basic recipe is that you can add all manner of vegetables to qeema (Peas, potatoes, carrots, green beans, spinach, dill, various greens, are all very common additions add the vegetables at the point before you add water, green chili, etc., and let them steam with the qeema for 10 minutes or so. Then add the green chili and chopped coriander on top.). Incidentally, the same recipe works for boneless cubes of meat, as well, but that seems less useful for you.

You may also want to look at haleem recipes, haleem essentially being a meaty porridge where the meat is pretty well amalgamated with the grains (although that may be too carbohydrate laden, I suppose.)

Other desi recipe suggestions: khageena (scrambled eggs with veggies, and spiced up), shami kababs (meat is cooked with a little bit of daal, then ground up and turned into burger like patties. Not at all the typical meat texture.) Another thing that will change the texture of meat is unripe papaya. A very small amount is sufficient to REALLY tenderize meat, and again, it changes the flavour and texture considerably.

Will come back with more if I think of anything further.
posted by bardophile at 10:05 AM on November 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

You mention you liked beef jerky and pepperoni. Eat those things! Jerky, other than the high sodium level, is not that bad for you. Also, I agree with hansbrough, who said that you should start with mild, white-fleshed fish. Halibut and cod are really good, though based on your stated preference I would suggest baking instead of steaming (drier) and coating in a highly spiced fish fry type coating. That will make them crispy and taste like bread and flavor rather than like what they are.

You might also like thinly-sliced meat, like roasting a turkey breast and getting it cut lunchmeat-thin and/or chopping it to put in a salad.

Also, since you're trying to lose weight, I would like to recommend a lot of beans. You can get meat in there (like ground beef or sausage) if you do things like chili or southern red beans, with or without the rice. I LOVE the savoryness of red beans, it fills me up without too many calories, and if I want I can add meat but even without it's still pretty healthy.
posted by Night_owl at 10:05 AM on November 20, 2010

Any Vietnamese restaurants around? Go have a "pho tai" at the best recommended place, it's the version in which very, very thinly sliced beef is put into the broth raw, and cooks in the few minutes it takes to assemble in the kitchen and bring to your table. The meat is always delicate, there's never too much of it in the bowl, and it's always without the sort of knotty gristle stuff going on that I imagine you'd like to avoid. And it tastes good.

If there are any Jewish-style delis, try a pastrami sandwich.

Fish is a breeze. Get a little oven grill thing, pop on a filet of salmon, squeeze a little lemon or lime juice on it, and run it under your oven grill for 10 or 15 minutes. Flip once. Salmon is so lush it hardly needs anything else: more boring fish you can make a sauce or have it with salsa or any other fancy prep.

Chicken is also pretty easy. If you can cook tofu in a stir-fry, just think of chicken as a slightly more solid tofu that needs a little longer to cook.
posted by zadcat at 10:06 AM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I totally get you on this!

Right now, I am pregnant and on the borderline for gestational diabetes. This means I must eat the diet you are describing. Meanwhile, despite being a classically trained French chef, I'm mostly vegetarian. Bonus because now that I am pregnant, I find meat and eggs particularly revolting. *sigh*

Try milder fish (wild, not farmed.) Garlic is your friend when cooking, it hides a lot of sins. Pastrami! Good paastrami is cooked and cured in so many lovely ways it hardly counts as cow by the end - but the flavor is delicious and not gamey. (I know you know what I mean by "gamey")

Check the sell by date on meats. If it isn't super fresh (like a week out from today) don't do it.

EVERYTHING you get at most restaurants and cafes comes from factory farms, so forget that. (*F* you Sysco. *F* you.) Furthermore, I find the beef at TJ's (even when free range blah blah) to be sub-standard. In my 'hood we have Bristol Farms and Gelson's, both considered very high-end super markets, and their meats are terrible. At TJ's I get the organic kosher Empire Farms chickens which are palatable and, ya know, fed organic food and then slaughtered within kosher guidelines. I do beef and pork at Wholefoods in my 'hood. YMMV.

You know when you go to the shop and see whole chickens or other fowl? Check their tail/butt ends. Is the area discolored, usually yellow or brown? These discolorations are caused by urine burns. It means the birds were factory farmed in unclean conditions. Most whole birds for sale in the store are like this. If the whole birds in a deli case show signs of sitting in urine before slaughter, chances are the chicken breasts and thighs came from the same supplier and were similarly mistreated. You know what (not) to do concerning this type of meat.


I can't recommend recipes because I don't know what you like. In fact, I think if you know how to choose high quality meat, you can let your appetite do the rest.

The plain greek 0% fat yogurt from TJ's is surprisingly high in protein, I supplement that into my diet when I just can't fathom eating animal. Lentils, I like lentils. A little good bacon or prosciutto can make any chicken dish palatable. (Did I mention I never gave up bacon??) Fish.

I think you can make this diet change. Don't force yourself to eat anything you don't like.

Cut out processed foods, refined flour and sugars, ANYTHING with corn syrup (which is in just about everything processed - so that one is a twofer!) and cut down on the cheese a little -- doing all this will mean you can eat the least amount of meat possible and still be making a significant and positive lifestyle change.

Good luck!
posted by jbenben at 10:09 AM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

bardophile, that sounds great, I have to say. I love Indian food.

TorontoSandy, I didn't realize there were truly vegetarian protein powders. I only knew that the protein bars I tried weren't bad but ended in GI distress for me. Although I may check into vegetarian powders, I still need to go ahead with meat. I just have to. My parents are MDs, and they've always dismissed the idea that I could have GI distress after eating meat for anything other than psychological reasons. Whether or not that's how it is, it happens nonetheless.

Thanks, everyone; this is really encouraging.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:11 AM on November 20, 2010

It's so funny to me that folks keep recommending ground beef here because I find that meat product has BY FAR the most revolting mouth-feel to me. Why? Well, it's the idea of how it's made, you see!

Speaking of vegetarian protein powders, etc.... HEMP.

Also, adding a little hemp seed (like you do flax) is handy. But Hemp protein is apparently super nutritious and bioavailable.
posted by jbenben at 10:27 AM on November 20, 2010

On-and-off vegetarian, largely for aesthetic reasons, here.

Larb, a Thai dish that's stir-fried but dry, might be good. I think there is a whole thread devoted to larb on egullet.org. Basically I am thinking of a lot of Asian dishes where chicken or pork is cut in small strips or cubes-- to help with the texture-- but light on the sauce which tends to be rich in carbs/fat.

What about deli meats like sliced turkey and lean roast beef? If you don't want bread, wrap them in lettuce; use lots of good mustard or some vinegar as a dressing.

I have a problem with eggs, probably thanks to long-term exposure to bad egg cookery. I am still grossed out watching my partner cook and eat scrambled eggs. But you can make a pretty good custard or flan with low or no sugar and lots of eggs. Or a crustless quiche. Once I got over the aversion I started making things like feta omelets. Low-fat cheese gets a lot of well-deserved ridicule but it is OK as an ingredient. These may not be dishes you want to eat for the rest of your life, but on a restricted diet they can be relatively satisfying. When you are on maintenance you can add richer ingredients.
posted by BibiRose at 10:32 AM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've been vegetarian or vegan for the last 15ish years - for reasons similar to yours - but I've recently been trying to start eating meat again. The only thing I really love so far is deli-sliced chicken, and I think it's a good baby step.

I get Boar's Head Rotisserie Chicken - it's really good quality, no hormones/antibiotics/whatever. (I wouldn't have known this on my own, but there's a big difference between packaged stuff and what you can get at a good deli counter.)
posted by ella wren at 11:24 AM on November 20, 2010

I'm a lot like you. I'm maybe 90% vegetarian; have been for all my adult life, though I do eat fish, and now sometimes I can bring myself to eat free range organic chicken, if I cook it myself, and I don't think about it too much. One thing I found I can eat with abandon is turkey bacon. I buy the all-natural turkey bacon from Trader Joe's (I'm sure you can find a similar product other places) and cook it until it's tough and/or crunchy. It's half a gram of fat per piece and very high protein; the only drawback is the sodium. But it's so easy and so far from a simple chunk of meat, which squicks me out too.

Eggs I love, as long as they're cooked well, but I can totally see how they'd be tough to get used to. I second the idea of a quiche, and/or tortilla espanola as a intermediary step. If you remove some of the egg yolks, pretty healthy, too, especially if you add spinach and turkey bacon.
posted by changeling at 11:37 AM on November 20, 2010

If jerky doesn't squick you out as much, it's worth knowing that you can make your own for less money, with a source of meat you trust. There's lots of recipes online, but the basic plan is to slice beef thin, marinate in something you like, and put directly on the oven rack with the door cracked open on low heat for a few hours. It can be as strongly flavored as you want, and it'll be hard to find more protein-per-bite than that. (If I was doing this again I would check into bacteria risk, but it didn't kill me the first time, so clearly it's safe.)

Omelets have a relatively firm and crispy texture as eggs go, and there are lots of ingredients with strong (and delicious) flavors that drown out the egg. Feta and olives? Salsa and pepper jack? Blue cheese and green salsa? (The "blue-green omelet" has been thoroughly vetoed in our house, but I liked it.)
posted by jhc at 11:39 AM on November 20, 2010

As much as I would love to recommend a quiche or tortilla, for someone who is bothered by the texture of eggs that's a bad idea. Maybe you could do a tortilla/quiche if you started with a very low ratio of eggs to filling and build up a tolerance. Tortillas are pretty much a giant hunk of cooked egg with stuff in it. But superdelicioustasty.
posted by Night_owl at 11:39 AM on November 20, 2010

I was a vegetarian for 15 years, and have a similar aversion. Actually, reading through this thread has made me queasy :( My advice would be to look for preparations that involve lots of spice or many different/strong flavors and that involve having the meat cooked fully and firmly.

For example, I started with fish and seafood that were fried and served with sauce, or that were heavily seasoned (blackened, or grilled with lemon pepper, or served in tacos), or also tuna salad (with lots of dill or parsley or tapenade or other strong flavor). Some sushi was actually okay, too, because of the many other textures and flavors involved.

Eventually I've been able to move to non-fast food cheeseburgers (though not other beef or ground beef in any other capacity), *crispy, almost burnt* bacon (though not turkey bacon, and no other pork whatsoever), and chicken in Thai or Indian curries (when the chicken is cut into very dense cubes, rather than smooshy and tissue-y).

Obviously these are not necessarily the healthiest incarnations, though, and I still have never figured out cooking meat at home. Of the meat dishes I'm able to eat, it seems like the curries would be the easiest to make.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:53 AM on November 20, 2010

I'm in your same boat these days (and was about to post a similar question!). I'm only up to eggs these days -- they are a very convenient addition to a low-carb veggie diet, and humanely raised eggs aren't SO hard to find. I've always hated eggs, but found I can mostly tolerate them in crustless quiches and frittatas. I use a lot of veggies, and a decent amount of cheese to minimize the amount of pure eggy bites. What's also good is to add some crumbly tofu in the frittata (like I just toss it the pan while cooking the vegetables). It blends in well and, again, minimizes the egginess.

I've been planning to eventually make my own jerky, too, since I always kind of liked it before I stopped eating meat. I'm not quite ready to jump to beef yet, but I know I've come across fairly natural, grass-fed beef jerky at some point, so it might be a good thing to try.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 12:07 PM on November 20, 2010

Nthing several things. First look at variety of meat. It really doesn't have to stop at beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and one or two types of fish and shellfish. You may find that some of the milder game meats (eg rabbit) are different enough to what you're used to that you like them.

Secondly, big support for the idea of integrating small amounts of meat into other dishes. I'm a huge fan of SE Asian salads and stir fries, which often have a little high quality meat in them. Examples that spring to mind are Gỏi Gà ("Vietnamese Slaw") or yam neua yang ("spicy Thai beef salad"). This sort of thing would have the added advantage of lots of spices, which would distract from the meat a bit more.

Finally, buying and eating small amounts of high quality meat is more likely to keep you happy than trying to force down a large medium quality steak. And doesn't work out to be much more expensive. Corn fed free range chicken, range bred fillet steak, wild salmon, etc will both taste taste better and be easier on your sense of ethics.
posted by Ahab at 12:30 PM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

MEATBALLS! God damn! They're easy, inexpensive, and don't have the "you're eating muscle fiber" quality to them. And also delicious.

A good Italian recipe would go like this:

Preheat oven to 350

In a large bowl, combine 2/3 pound gound beef (the cheaper grinds are better for this) and 1/3 ground pork (really, it should be even ratios of beef, pork, and veal, but as a recent vegetarian you may not be ready for veal); 1/2 tablespoon each of salt and black pepper; a tablespoon grated parmesan; a teaspoon each of dried basil, oregano, and paprika; one egg (beaten), and a cup and a half of breadcrumbs. Mix this up until combined, then form into balls about the size of golf or ping-pong balls and put on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, and serve over braised greens.

Vietnamese meatballs are even less muscle like, but the process is a little more gross and involved. Let me know if you want that recipe too.
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:35 PM on November 20, 2010

I hate eggs if eaten as boiled eggs/scrambled eggs/fried eggs,

but I have found that eating eggs as Tamago (Japanese sweet egg omelet on sushi rice); pancakes; cakes is extremely palatable and tasty.

For me, the trick to eating eggs is that the texture/taste/appearance of the egg is disguised.

Would this help you?

You could even try making home-made bread with egg in the dough or glaze.
posted by Hot buttered sockpuppets at 1:12 PM on November 20, 2010

I'm a omnivore who's kind of picky about meat in the same way you are. Seconding Thai & Indian dishes--I'm particularly partial to Thai green curries with chicken. In the same vein as meatballs, you could try crab cakes. Most seafood squicks me out, but good crab cakes are sweetish, not at all fishy in smell or flesh-y in texture, and can be seasoned a variety of ways.

Two things I do a lot:

Cut well-seasoned sausage into bite-size or smaller pieces and saute with onion over medium-low heat until the onion is getting caramelized and the sausage is well-browned. Turn up the heat for a minute, throw whatever vegetables you want in there, toss in a good dose of water or beer, and cover quickly. The liquid reacts with the browned meat-and-onion bits on the bottom of the pan to make a little bit of sauce, and steams the veggies. (Took me a few tries to find the right combination of heat level, liquid, and stirring, so just experiment.) Voila--chewy little meat-bits, steamed vegetables, rich sweet onion.

Leftovers-with-eggs: Take some leftover lentil soup (just the solids), black beans and rice, potato hash with vegetables, risotto, whatever you've got. Toss in a medium heat pan with oil for a minute til any liquid is burned off and things are just starting to get crispy, then add extra spices and one or two beaten eggs. Scramble around or turn down the heat slightly and let it set into a frittata-omelet-thing. Usually looks gross but tastes great, adds protein without that eggy blandness or texture, and is infinitely flexible in terms of ingredients and seasonings.
posted by hippugeek at 1:37 PM on November 20, 2010

Have you tried vegetarian protein sources like tempeh and seitan? There are tons of vegetarian sources of protein these days.
posted by reddot at 1:38 PM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm a long time vegetarian who started eating salmon about a year ago. It sounds like your goals are similar to mine - weight loss, carb avoidance, and health gain. The main thing I did was swap soy with salmon (and rarely, tuna). I also started eating eggs and drinking milk (though I was not a vegan before, I don't like these foods either) I didn't set out to cut down on carbs, but for some reason, I have been craving and eating them much less often; not sure why.

I lost a good amount of weight over the past year or so, and more importantly, I built a lot of muscle that I didn't even realize I'd lost. I can't believe how much my body's changed (in a good way). I am also having fewer problems with low iron counts, though I still take a supplement sometimes.

I cannot offer tips to help you get over grossness, but wanted to offer my tips on how I deal with feeling grossed out. Salmon still grosses me out -- but, it turns out to be pretty versatile in flavoring because it goes with anything. For example, it goes surprisingly well with beans. One thing I do is pour a black bean sauce over it. Another is to chunk it up and put it in chili, where I can't even taste it, and the texture blends right in.

As far as "cooking", as I noted, it still grosses me out, so I just buy it from a high end store so it's pre cleaned and washed, and sustainably wild caught; I don't care that it's more expensive because those things are worth it to me. I just rinse it, salt it, and bake it in the oven. Sometimes I put lemon, breadcrumbs, onion, but often I just make it plain and mix the salmon into something once it's baked. I've got no idea how to cook meat beyond that, but again due to the ick factor, I'm not interested in learning, and I'm planning on giving up salmon again sometime early next year.
posted by lesli212 at 2:16 PM on November 20, 2010

I find it easiest to incorporate fish and seafood - not just because I like them more than meat, but because they can be really Easy and no-cook. I can throw 5 pre-cooked frozen shrimp on top of my lunch salad, and they've thawed by lunchtime, or half a can of tuna or salmon. That way I don't even have to cook, and I get my ~4oz of protein and lots of veggies.

I like the broth recommendations for building up your intestinal flora (it shouldn't take long - I'd eat meat very infrequently, but still had no problems digesting it, I presume because I never quite lost the gut flora for it). And I also find lunch meats a relatively palatable way to reintroduce meat.
posted by ldthomps at 2:53 PM on November 20, 2010

Oh yes. Scallops. You can't go wrong here - there's no bones or skin or other anatomical impedimenta, it's just a little disc of pelagic deliciousness. Lightly grilled or sautéed, they go with anything, but don't make the common mistake of over-spicing, because their flavour is easily drowned out by harsh sauces.
posted by zadcat at 5:13 PM on November 20, 2010

Oh yes. Scallops. You can't go wrong here -

I'm a meat-eater for life, and scallops one thing I can't stomach. Okay, there are lots of things I can't stomach. But scallops are among the worst.

My point here is that these things vary a ton from person to person. I personally can't eat lamb, salmon, and several other things mentioned here, but ground beef is awesome.

So -- you need to try as many different meats, cooking styles, etc. as you can and find the ones that work for you. You don't have to hurry - try a new one every few days and give your stomach time to recover in between. You'll find a few things you like.
posted by mmoncur at 3:41 AM on November 21, 2010

Thanks, guys. I have bought some turkey bologna and sliced turkey, and I've already had some beef jerky. It's veiny and I hate it and it's an effort to swallow but by God I'm doing this thing!
posted by Countess Elena at 10:52 AM on November 21, 2010

Another suggestion for including a small amount of meat: grill a slice of bacon and chop it up into one of your regular vegetarian meals, as if it were a garnish rather than a main ingredient. It goes well in quite a lot of salads and baked meals. Or if you have a favourite lentil dish, a small amount of chorizo or other sausage-type-thing (grilled and chopped again, or just stirred in during cooking time) is a good flavour pairing.

I'm guessing you don't have to eat vast quantities of meat to get the benefit you're looking for, and grilling it gives a dryer texture than some other cooking methods.

If you do decide to try a white fish, gremolata is one way to add lots of flavour: finely chopped fresh rosemary, garlic and citrus zest. Pat it on the fish fillet, drizzle some olive oil over it, then grill or bake as you like.
posted by harriet vane at 3:21 AM on November 22, 2010

Countess Elena, there are non meat alternatives for learn protein.

Tofu and tempeh are very lean, low carb, with few calories. If you are trying to avoid soy protein, then there is always seitan, which is made from vital wheat gluten.

In addition, there are things like nutritional yeast(7 grams of protein per tablespoon and replete with all amino acids), spirulina(4 grams of protein per tablespoon), chlorella, as well as hemp protein concentrate if you are worried about having too much soy protein or are gluten intolerant.

All of these foods are rich in protein, while low in calories and fat, can be prepared in a number of ways, and many are delicious.

Anyway, as a healthy active vegan, I can personally attest to the quality and deliciousness of the above recommendations. Just food for thought.
posted by satori_movement at 9:43 AM on November 22, 2010

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