Vegetarian No More!
January 5, 2004 1:34 PM   Subscribe

I would like to return to eating meat (red and poultry) and fish after abstaining for about 16 years. Anyone done this? Do I have to follow a program to avoid feeling "off" (or worse) initially?
posted by Mayor Curley to Food & Drink (19 answers total)
From my experience, start VERY SLOWLY. You will get sick if you eat a steak right now. Welcome back.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:36 PM on January 5, 2004

i dove right back in with a cheeseburger. i was a bit sick and had a protein rush such as i did not think could exist. everyone says start back slowly, but i didn't. YMMV.

(by the way, i never did not eat fish, just not the land animals)
posted by crush-onastick at 2:02 PM on January 5, 2004

As someone trying hard to reduce, maybe eventually eliminate, meat intake, I'm curious -- why does someone successful at it for 16 years now want to revert?
posted by Tubes at 2:07 PM on January 5, 2004

i never did not eat fish

e.e. cummings said it first.
posted by yerfatma at 2:50 PM on January 5, 2004 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm curious -- why does someone successful at it for 16 years now want to revert?

I became a vegetarian as an idealistic 14-year-old. Now I'm a cynical 30-year-old and I've realized that there's no point in being strict about it. Really, I was raised without much meat and I don't plan on eating it except in social situations where it's inconvenient to be the only one who needs something special. My diet will be overwhelmingly vegetarian, but I won't be a "vegetarian."
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:02 PM on January 5, 2004

I have been told that a dish with some meat, like a meat and veggie stir-fry, is a good way to get back in the swing.
posted by JanetLand at 3:12 PM on January 5, 2004

Whatever you do, don't break up with the girlfriend who made you a vegetarian and then try to get back at her by eating three big macs in one sitting. Unless you like throwing up. A lot.</repressed memory>
posted by jpoulos at 3:21 PM on January 5, 2004 [1 favorite]

You'll probably want your meat well-done for a while to reduce the chance of some nasty microbes that your gut doesn't know how to deal with slipping through.
posted by adamrice at 3:23 PM on January 5, 2004

But maybe you might want to wait a little bit while this whole mad cow thing sorts itself out!

In all seriousness, I might try to start out with fish or at least white meat before diving into red meat. But I base this on no actual research, sorry.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:34 PM on January 5, 2004

I gave up being a vegetarian when I started having dreams about McDonald's. I don't know quite what my body was telling me, but it was yelling it really loud. the first day I had a big Mac, mmmmm, and then later a steak. And I was fine, aside from the whole questionability of fantasizing about big Mac nirvana. Anyway, I would start with things like French Fries cooked in animal fats, really bland hamburger, and small quantities of high quality beef. Those are easy on the stomach. Start as an extra to your normal grain diet so you're not reducing the fiber. The Mickey Ds plunge is not necessary, but small bits of their "meat" is probably an easy halfway house for the stomach.
posted by dness2 at 6:00 PM on January 5, 2004

I've always heard that bacon is the gateway drug for converting (or reverting) vegetarians.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:30 PM on January 5, 2004

BEEF: It's What's For Dinner. Take it slow, Curley, but welcome back to the fold.
posted by davidmsc at 6:50 PM on January 5, 2004

I was a full-on vegan for 5 years. Decide to switch to a flexible vegan cuz i was sick of the restaurant hassle.

I broke from my veganism on a trip to Paris. Ate carnivorously for 5 days, and never suffered from any re-introction issues. On further reflection, I can't even think of what medical reasons mught cuase such symptoms.

Your body continues to make the same digestive enzymes regardless.

P.S. being a mostly vegan and having the latitude to eat whatever once in a while is the best of both worlds.
posted by Fupped Duck at 8:03 PM on January 5, 2004

Mayor Curley - My wife only eats fish or shellfish (once or twice a week ) but I'll eat meat if people serve it to me when I'm at someone else's house.

Experiment : Some people can eat vegan for years and then eat meat randomly, as duty calls, with no adverse effects. Others get sick doing this, I've noticed.

You could habituate your system to meat eating small amounts at first, as Janetland wisely suggests ; eat the best quality - "Free range organic" ( blah blah blah ) meat at home, occasionally, to keep in shape. Some stores, like Trader Joe's, have high quality vacuum packed frozen meat which keeps for a very long time.
posted by troutfishing at 11:05 PM on January 5, 2004

I was a vegetarian for 7 years and started eating meat again last year. I did not have any adverse reactions except having to get reaccustomed to the textures and smells of cooked animals. I started out slow - mostly sampling other people's food - and never had an issue. I would strongly recommend that you don't go for the cheap and crappy meats like mcd's, at least not while you're transitioning. And try not to let the inevitable wisecracks annoy you...
posted by widdershins at 6:08 AM on January 6, 2004

Aside--McD's in the USA does not make its french fries in animal tallow (though it does in some countries, according to Fast Food Nation, which is an excellent read).

Having worked at McD's as a teenager, I would second widdershins' recco that you eat the good stuff. That experience did not make a vegetarian of me, but it did make a non-mcdonaldatarian of me.
posted by adamrice at 6:23 AM on January 6, 2004

A cousin of mine was a vegetarian for probably 10 years, then, suddenly decided to stop. Her first non-veggi meal was a big steak. To everyone's surprise (including her own) she said she felt fine afterwards and continues to eat meat regularly to this day.
posted by soplerfo at 7:52 AM on January 6, 2004

I was a vegetarian for over ten years and then started eating meat again to avoid the "special meal" trauma at friend's and family's homes. My first "meat" meal was a plain chicken breast to see how I'd cope. Unfortunately, that didn't go so well ... but, I kept up with chicken dishes for the first week anyway to get my body used to things. After that, I started adding beef and other types of meat to my diet. After that initial meal, I didn't have any real problems. Good luck!
posted by cyniczny at 8:19 AM on January 6, 2004

A steak with some redness to it retains the enzymes necessary to aid digestion. Also, your body will produce the right juices if you get a chance to be in the room and smell what's cooking. Wait until you're hungry and the aromas make you salivate. I'd be inclined to make a trip to the health food store and get their recommendation on a quality protein enzyme supplement.
posted by Feisty at 5:46 PM on January 6, 2004

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