Sunday, May 8, 2011

How I started eating meat again

 I’ve been a vegetarian for many years, and I was pretty happy with it. A couple of years back, I even wrote a post about the reasons it is so, and I can still stand by many of the reasons I stated back then.

Going to university and obtaining a degree in nutrition didn’t shake my beliefs at all. My nutrition, after all, was balanced, I said. I didn’t eliminate all animal protein and fat. I still included eggs, milk, cheese and butter in my ration. I was healthy and fit and my blood tests never showed any deficiencies.

When I was pregnant with Shira, I experienced an irresistible craving to eat fish, something that greatly surprised me, since I hadn’t touched fish in about twelve years prior to that. Nevertheless, I decided to go along with this craving and added fish to my diet. My husband suggested I might try eating chicken too, but I just didn’t feel up to that.

Even reading “Nourishing Traditions”, the great advocate for eating meat, didn’t make me feel I should try it. I was pregnant with my second child by then, and thought I’m fine as I am.

Then, after Tehilla was born, I started to experience a constant, nagging and irresistible sense of hunger. No matter what and how much I ate, I seemed to be hungry all the time – until I tried eating meat. Then I finally felt as though something in my stomach settled down. Ever since, I have included meat in my ration – not on a daily basis, more a weekly, but it’s a constant part of my diet now.

I have no explanation for this phenomenon, except that the burden of pregnancies and nursing created a sort of nutritional overload on my body, making it a necessity for me to provide more concentrated nutritious foods. I wonder if any of you have had similar experiences. 

19 comments:

Ganeida said...

I was more the other way. Pregnancy & breastfeeding put me off meat ~ though I did resume after finishing feeding mostly because it was easier but now I'm menopausal & apart from a little chicken occasionally I'm pretty much vegetarian. This suits me at this time of my life & helps with the menopausal weight gain. I can't stand the smell of red meat, have never eaten any sort of seafood & usually can't stand white meat either but it is an option if we are eating out or something so people don't feel they need to cater especially for my youngest & I.

Anonymous said...

I have been a vegetarian for fifteen years now and in both my pregnancies craved meat, I just increased my iron and the cravings went away. As for the hunger I find that with two small children I of course do tend to get hungry but I tend to have smoothies usually with some protein powder, flaxseed and packed full of fruit and veges and I never eat a carbohydrate with a protein source.I also find now that I do need quite a substantial breakfast, cereal and milk just are not going to cut it. I don't think that it's an issue of eating meat but of getting enough protein and iron.

Fatima

emily said...

That's interesting. I have heard before of vegetarian women craving meat during pregnancy (though my staunch veggie friend insists it is an excuse because they want to anyway!) I wouldn't know as I have always eaten meat.

You said in your earlier post that some of the reasons you were vegetarian were frugality and because of cruelty to animals. Have you found an economical source of free range meat now or are you just in a better financial position these days?

Leah Brand-Burks said...

I think most of the time, if we are listening, our bodies know what they need, and tell us. Good for you, listening to your body's needs. I had many iron-rich meat cravings during my second pregnancy, and my two sons were less than 18 months apart, so I think something was just missing, so my body went in search of it until I found it!

tales_from_the_crib said...

Not after the births of either of my two children or during or after nursing, but after my second half marathon last month I went through a similar, oddly hungry all the time thing.
It went away once I upped my dairy. So maybe it was some sort of hormonal shift thing.

Analytical Adam said...

I have to say from my own experience with my own family vegetarianism seems to go hand and hand with feminism (all the cases I know this seems to be the case) and this sense that some women have that they are the source of compassion. I have part of my family that was this way and they of course treating boys like dirt is ok because we have no compassion. Also it should be pointed out and I have heard this that Hitler was a vegetarian. I haven't seen the source but I have heard it. Is this true?? It is one thing to be concerned about cruelty to animals in the way animals in farms are treated today. However, it is another to think that somehow you have compassion for not eating meat which in all the cases I know of this is always is hubris and thinking you yourself are the source of compassion. It is amazing that these some people think nothing when boys are mistreated by their own mothers and are friendly with mothers who emotionally abuse and moderately phycialy abuse their children as well. And love the so called male religious leaders also who say nothing as it doesn't fit the agenda of women = 100% good men = 100% evil except of course if you are part of the clique of Rabbis. It would be nice if we had as much concern for children being mistreated as we do animals which in many cases is just because people think that the God of Israel is a cruel God for allowing us to eat meat.

We should be more concerned how animals are treated rather then this arrogance of not eating meat which we need.

Amanda said...

I was happily a vegetarian for 5 years and experienced the same cravings during my first pregnancy and decided to give in to them. Ever since I've continued keeping meats in my diet on a regular basis, especially after discovering I've become lactose intolerant so I cannot eat much dairy at all. I agree that the demands of pregnancy and nursing are just so great that many women need that extra protein, fat, and iron in their diet.

I still would like to go back to fasting periodically from meat, maybe as a Lenten discipline, whenever I am no longer nursing/pregnant.

Kate said...

Oh yes! I remember with my 6th pregnancy (3rd baby in my arms), I was heavily craving red meat. I was actually feeling a general illness about me until I ate red meat and then I felt so much better.

Rose said...

That was very wise of you Anna. I've found at various times throughout my life my body has told me what I need to eat and it's worked well when I have responded to need rather than want. Currently I'm finding I am phasing out coffee and replacing it with green and black tea. I used to drink a lot of coffee, these days I drink maybe two cups a day. But my body is saying no, I want tea.

SubWife said...

I am persuaded by personal experience that vegetarianism is not for everybody. It might be physiologically compatible with most human bodies, but it requires way too much commitment to food and nutrition that not everyone can/is willing to dedicate to it.

Personally speaking, after a year of going without meat, I have started feeling constantly hungry, felt like I had no energy, gained weight and my stomach was hurting me almost all the time. Yes, I haven't been very good about my food choices, but going to college full time and working almost full time wasn't very conducive to paying close attention to nutrition. It took years to undo the damage. I know someone with exactly similar experience.

La Rae said...

Shalom!

Yes, I also have cravings for certain food and I believe it depends on what my body needs at the time. For instance, one time I was run down and could feel a cold virus coming. I also had an urge to eat meat and did. The next day I felt much better and did not become sick. I have also had cravings for broccoli, milk, bananas etc. I think it is very important to listen to your body and then DO what your body is telling you. :)
Have a very blessed week,
Mrs. O

Mrs. Anna T said...

Emily,

Unfortunately, no, we just eat the regular supermarket fare, but it still made me feel loads better and more energetic.

Regarding pregnancy being an excuse, I absolutely couldn't, physically, bring myself to touch meat or fish for twelve years (if it accidentally ended on my tongue, I felt the urge to vomit). Pregnancy just seemed to shift something there.

Fatima,

Yes, perhaps if I added more protein, iron, animal fat and B12, the cravings would disappear. I honestly haven't tried.

Anonymous said...

I don’t know why Adam brought up Hitler, but it is rubbish if he connects his beliefs about food to his beliefs about Jews. Hitler was a man, flesh and bone like any other. He also believed in exercise and disliked smoking.

I’ve never been too fond of red meat. These days I mostly stick to seafood. In the past I didn’t eat any seafood. It is just personal tastes. I could change. Or not. Really doesn’t matter. I am just thankful that the Lord provides me with food. Vegetarianism is not a religion. There are no rigid standards. People do it for a variety of reason; economics, animal cruelty, nutrition, personal tastes, weight loss, etc… Some people also take it as a political statement. It is not.

Anonymous said...

It may benefit many people to actually get to know farmers, we have a little "farmette" and I am willing to sell organic eggs at $1.00 a dozen but I guess we are too far out in the "sticks" and most around us either have eggs themselves or they think store bought eggs are somehow "safer"??? Well we buy are orqanic meat at cheaper prices than you can by regularly raised meat from the store Because we Know the farmers see how the animals are raised and we choose the butcher,and tell him how we want things cut up and packaged. I cannot believe things are not the same throughout the world??Please get to know a farmer plus it is a wonderful thing to get to visit with your children .It eases your mind about how animals are raised too, so much publicity for the few bad farmers and no publicity for the many good.I know this is off subject but I think this may be of help to buy high quality meats at a reasonable price and without feeling guilt towards the animal.This is not the same as finding an ad for organic meat for sale that would be high prices for high quality. karen usa

Mrs. Anna T said...

Karen, animal farming is not common in Israel as it is in the USA, as we simply don't have the large pastures necessary for organic farming.

TanyaL said...

Mrs. T: I had a similar experience. I wasn't vegetarian, but after my 2nd child was born, I experienced significant meat cravings, and for me, I found that different meats satisfied that craving to different levels. I found the explanations within Traditional Chinese Medicine to be helpful--food is classified according to properties that go beyond the basic vitamin/mineral/fat/protein type of measurements we often employ, and once I read a bit there, and factored in my health and personal tendencies (I, for example, would probably never have felt healthy as a vegetarian, whereas clearly you did for a long time), then my food cravings made a lot more sense.

One Ordinary Woman said...

Yes, I felt this way once I became pregnant as well. In fact, I tried going off of meat once my son was born and became depressed, so I went back on. Now I worry more about getting meat from farms that treat their animals well and are environmentally responsible than the ethics of eating meat. After all, God has given us permission to eat it. I follow God's exact commands about meat: so no pork or shellfish.

Anonymous said...

MRS. Anna I should have known better than to think everyone has this farmland available ,for miles around me there is nothing but farm land . I LIVE in the MIDDLE of a 35 acre pasture so please forgive my view of things!!LOL Karen

Mommy-moto said...

Kids do odd things to your body. I'm glad that you have found a way to fit it into you diet so your not hungry and are healthy!