Why I’m a Vegetarian {& why I’m Thinking of Eating Meat Again}

February 27th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life

After almost two years of blogging I can’t believe I haven’t explained why I am a vegetarian yet! Now seems like the perfect time since I’m questioning whether or not it is the healthiest dietary choice for me.

This May will mark my 7 year anniversary of being meat free. I am extremely proud of that! I decided to give up meat in 2007 the Summer before I started graduate school for two main reasons:

Animals

{Pin $2 on Etsy!}

1. I love animals

2. Excess meat can be unhealthy

Before I get further into explaining my decision let me preface it by saying I am absolutely 100% open and accepting of all other dietary choices! Every guy I’ve dated has been a meat eater, most of my friends are, and I never EVER say anything to someone about eating meat unless they ask me (I can’t stand condescending vegetarians/vegans.)

After doing a bit of research I felt like a vegetarian diet would be healthier for me. At the time I was living with my boyfriend, an Italian kid from Brooklyn, and we ate meat at almost every meal daily. Dinner was usually pasta with chicken or meatballs (and homemade sauce!), hamburgers, chicken wings, or something similar. Almost zero vegetables, and all meals were carb/meat centric. At this time I was at my heaviest (about 170 – although in the picture below I think I had already lost a bout 15-20 pounds.)

us1

I felt gross. For many reasons, but one trend I started to notice was that I’d feel even worse after eating a huge meal. Bloated, lethargic,  …. just blah. Most of the physical symptoms came from eating heavy meals, but I’m also convinced that some of the negativity I felt came from psychologically beating myself up over eating animals. If you didn’t think I was a hippy before you will after this.

I feel like we absorb the energy around us. Ever have that one friend who’s a total energy vampire? Every time you are around them all they do is complain/moan and you leave them feeling terrible? Or, say you go on a super clean eating streak and having nothing but salads and juices for a day and you feel energetic and on top of the world? I felt like eating meat from animals that were likely killed painfully after living their entire lives in horrific conditions was eating at me from the inside. I literally couldn’t stomach it anymore. The last meat I had was out at one of our favorite restaurants. It was a chicken gouda sandwich and I bit into it and hit one of those gross chewy tendon parts and I put it down and said out loud “I can’t do this.”

So, that was that. We both became vegetarians (he only lasted a few months) and I immediately felt better. This was about the time that I started to exercise, learned how to eat well, and eventually lost 50 pounds over the next two years. I rarely craved meat, and things were pretty good for me health wise until I was diagnosed with Hashimotos last year. The extreme fatigue I had been dealing with improved in a few months of taking Synthroid. Now, it’s back, as are some other psychological/behavioral symptoms and after listening to my body for the last few months I’ve noticed I’ve been craving meat more; a lot more.

Two of my favorite bloggers, Jen from Peanut Butter Runner & Leanne from Healthful Pursuit, were both vegetarian/vegan for a while before transitioning back into eating meat. Reading about how much better they feel incorporating animal proteins and fats back into their diet made me start to wonder if I might be doing my body a disservice from denying my cravings.

Problem is – I really don’t want to eat meat! So, I’m going to be doing a bit more reading and see how I should progress. As of right now I’m leaning toward going pescatarian (eating seafood.) Growing up we were super poor and even before going vegetarian I only had seafood twice. Some sort of fish when I was in 3rd grade at a friends house (and I spit it out into my napkin) and calamari from Olive Garden on a first date (right before we went and got tattoos.) I know that fish/seafood have feelings to, but I would feel better ethically eating them versus ‘real’ meat, and I think adding seafood into my diet 1-2x a week may be a good starting point.

I have NO idea how to cook seafood so I’m just going to go get lots of sushi. That totally counts, right?

Have you even transitioned between different diets? 

What is your favorite type of seafood (and what is easy to cook at home?)

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73 Responses

  • I stopped eating red meat when I was 11 because George Harrison didn’t eat it. (I was a weird kid.) I haven’t eaten red meat since, and don’t miss it at all. I never really liked it, so it was never a big deal for me. I ate poultry and fish and bacon. :) When I went off to college I had a really close friend who was a vegetarian, so I sort of ended up falling into it.

    Several years later and a diagnosis of being allergic to soy and nuts, not to mention having a hard time losing weight and feeling ill, I started eating chicken again. I was getting next to no protein at all. Most of my meals were carbs, carbs, carbs. Once I started eating chicken again I actually felt *so* much better. I wasn’t hungry constantly either, like I was when I was eating mostly carbs. I now eat poultry, fish, and bacon again. It took a fair amount of transition time; I really eased myself back into it.

    Now that I eat more protein I definitely feel a HUGE difference when my meals are protein based as opposed to carb based. If I eat toast for breakfast or pasta for lunch, I am starving an hour later. If I eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, I can go hours without being hungry.

    I know a lot of people say that the average person eats too much protein. I know I wasn’t eating enough. I aim for 100 grams/day, which I don’t meet if I eat too many carbs. I know that carbs aren’t good for me with PCOS and I need to limit them, especially since I need to lose weight.

    Good luck! I am sure you can find a way to manage both protein needs and ethical considerations!

    • Erica House says:

      What an epic reason to give up red meat! I don’t know if I could ever do red meat again (but I’m learning now to never say never!) I’m definitely feeling more pescatarian, and maybe chicken later on if I still crave something. Surprisingly I get about 100 grams of protein a day thanks to lots of eggs, egg whites, lentils, beans, tofu, etc. I’m wondering if my meat cravings may correlate with lack of iron (a common cause from what I’ve read) but I do take iron supplements. I’m so torn!

  • Katie H. says:

    I wonder if there’s a way to eat meat from animals that have been killed more humanely. I don’t know of this way–but it’s just a thought :-)

    • Erica House says:

      Yes, there absolutely is! In fact there are somewhat local farmers who will slaughter on site and package the meat for you. You can actually go to the farms and see how the animals are being raised/treated. If I go back to chicken/beef I’d prefer to buy that way so I can support local businesses and eat humanely raised/killed food.

  • Linz says:

    very interesting! i don’t eat a ton of meat but i do eat meat… i also don’t prepare a lot of meat; i’m more apt to eat it if i’m out at a restaurant or friends or family’s house

  • If you don’t want to eat meat then don’t, plan and simple. I am a vegetarian too (also with Hashimoto’s) and I don’t begrudge anyone their dietary choices. But if you felt better eating a cleaner and meat free diet there is no reason to stop. You don’t have to be vegan. If you want the benefits of non plant protein there are of course eggs plus good fats from dairy products (if that works for you). The key is to not be a carbetarian. :)

    • Erica House says:

      Well, as much as I may not psychologically want to eat meat I feel like physically I want to. I do get a decent amount of protein/fats from eggs and dairy products, and I could try upping that a bit before falling off the vegetarian wagon.

  • This is totally touching on the same inner debate for me! I’ve been a Pescatarian for about 3 years now. I felt wonderful after I stopped eating meat and lost some weight too. Now, for some reason, I am contemplating eating meat again. But, like you, I don’t crave it and don’t really want to eat it! I simply want to get more protein from whole sources rather than protein shakes, plus it would mix up my meals a lot. And if I ever transition to a Paleo-based diet, it’s much easier to eat meat rather than not.

    I currently eat a lot of tuna, salmon, eggs and white fish. If you’re thinking of making a transition I would definitely suggest Pescatarian first before you make your way make to eating meat fully again. I think being a Pescatarian has helped me a lot with my cravings. Fish is one of my favorite foods. You can easily learn to cook it. I bake frozen fillets in the oven at 400 for 30-40 minutes and voila, done. So easy and opens up a lot of new recipes. I also love to thaw fish in the fridge for a day or by running cold water over it and then pan searing it on a skillet for a few minutes with coconut oil.

    • Erica House says:

      Oh yeah Paleo is virtually impossible for vegetarians!
      You make cooking fish sound easy enough that I couldn’t screw it up. As I’ve started talking about going pescatarian with friends everyone is swearing I’ll fall in love with salmon. I see other bloggers eating fish often and it always looks pretty yummy, I just have to find a non-fishy fish to try first!

  • Just playing devil’s advocate here (totally not judging), why isn’t fish “real” meat? I get that there’s red meat, poultry, and seafood, but fish are still living beings.

    • Erica House says:

      Plants are living beings as well. I see fish as a bit of middle ground between vegetarian and carnivore mostly because of their lack of cognitive skills. I don’t think I could ever eat an animal (like a pig) who can “learn a new routine and do a circus’s worth of tricks: jump hoops, bow and stand, spin and make wordlike sounds on command, roll out rugs, herd sheep, close and open cages, play video games with joysticks.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/10/science/10angier.html?_r=0.) So, while fish 100% can feel pain, I don’t imagine them to be emotionally/cognitively as vulnerable to poor living conditions as more emotionally sophisticated animals are.

  • I was never vegetarian, but didn’t eat much meat until a few years ago. Once I started making an effort to eat it a few times a week, I felt a ton better. Ideas: cook up some shrimp when you do your weekly food prep and use them in salads, etc. Frozen fish fillets are always your friend, and they thaw quickly if you soak them in water (being in the midwest, I stick with frozen seafood, but you probably have a lot of good fresh options in FL). Smoked salmon on a bagel with cream cheese is an awesome breakfast. Have fun! I’ll be interested to see where the journey takes you.

    • Erica House says:

      Smoked salmon on a bagel?! That’s crazy talk! Lol. If I do go pescatarian I’m sure living on the gulf coast will suddenly seem much more appealing to me.

  • Helen says:

    It’s up to you in the end. If your body is craving it, try it out.
    I usually eat vegetarian but I do eat seafood once in a while, especially with family. They want me to eat meat and it’s the only way they’ll get me to eat some sort of meat. I don’t have cravings for meat though.

  • Cassandra says:

    It’s quite serendipitous that you would post this. I have eaten a mainly vegetarian diet for 21 years now, the only exception being the occasional piece of tilapia or salmon. I had similar reasons as you for this decision and have never had meat cravings in the entire 21 years of eating this way.

    I recently decided to shift my physical goals away from running and HIIT to more body building, but realized I would need to double, maybe even triple, my protein intake. That’s a lot of eggs and fake meat that I would need to eat to do this. So, I decided to start incorporating chicken into my diet…with rules. It has to be #1) ethically raised #2) organic #3) meat only (no tendons, skin, or bone) #4) eaten to accommodate the protein needs around my workouts. I ate my first chicken salad after a kick-butt workout last week, and I couldn’t get over how quickly it helped me recover from the workout as compared to a high-protein vegetarian meal.

    For me, after two decades of identifying with vegetarianism, the biggest struggle has been giving up such a large part of my identity. And given my limitations of when I’ll eat chicken and what kind, I’ve been hesitant to tell people in my life that this is a change I’ve made.

    Starting with seafood or certain types of seafood seems like a solid way to work your way back in. Keep us updated! :)

    • Erica House says:

      Girl – you hit on some major points for me!

      Hearing how much quicker you recovered post-workout with eating meat makes me sadface because I know it’s so true. What was it like to take the first bite of meat again? I honestly am having a hard time even picturing that!
      I didn’t even think about what it would be like to give up my identity as a vegetarian. I have always been the token, “Oh, she doesn’t eat meat” friend/coworker. I also take pride in being a Vegetarian! I think it’s a symbol to others how much emphasis I place on animal rights. Oh…..decisions, decisions.

      • Cassandra says:

        The first chicken salad I ate after 20+ years…the texture took some getting used to. I forgot how squishy meat could be! But then the second chicken dish…absolutely delicious. I felt guilty about how much I enjoyed it! I ate my third dish yesterday, and other than nearly spitting out my food when I bit into something crunchy, it went down a little more smoothly. And there’s been no particular shock to my digestive system, although I imagine red meat might be more difficult to reintroduce than chicken.

        I “came out” yesterday to a couple friends about my incorporating chicken into my diet, and felt relieved at how supportive they were. I think I was expecting jokes that wouldn’t make me feel good about my decision, but they thought my reasons made sense. It’s not like we can’t ever got back to vegetarian if we decide to do so!

        • Erica House says:

          Lol … reading your meat description I first through “ewwwww” then “omg that sounds so good ….” then “ewwww again. We are such conflicted meat eaters!

  • Becca says:

    I completely understand what you are going through. So much so that I had to leave my first comment as a long time reader. :)

    I have been a vegetarian for about 5 years, and for the first 3 or so I was a pure vegetarian. However I noticed I really started to crave fish and seafood. So after about 3 years I have added that back into my diet, in limited amounts. I usually only get it when I am out to eat, and it only happens that I “crave” it a few times a month. But I too, struggle with the fact that I am still eating something that was living and died for me to eat it. I try to push that into the back of my mind when I eat it because I know that my body craves it, but I’m not gonna lie, it does bother me some. I’m not sure what the right answer is honestly, I think you have to find a balance that works for you and your body. I try to remind myself frequently that a decision about a diet doesn’t have to be a life-long decision, it is more of a journey. and if I am craving fish one day, (I really believe if my body is craving something strongly, there is something in it that I need), then so be it. I can go back to a full on vegetarian based diet after this meal.

    • Erica House says:

      Well thank you for the first time comment!

      So, you struggled with the same cravings and ‘caved’, but still don’t enjoy eating fish? Do you enjoy it while you are eating it at all, and just feel badly after, or hate the whole process? I’m really struggling with imagining myself eating fish/meat. I just can’t do it! But, I feel like if I give it a shot I’ll either (1) feel better immediately and hate myself for taking this long or (2) feel like I ‘flushed’ 7 years down the drain.

      • Becca says:

        I find myself feeling a tad guilty after the fact. However, when I order it, it is because I have a serious craving for it, so I know it’s something my body needs as opposed to like, a random want, if that makes sense. I have never felt like I flushed my “pure” vegetarian time down the drain – to me, that was what I needed at that time. And now that my body craves the seafood so strongly, I believe it is smart of me to listen, so I need to adjust accordingly. I do feel a little bit like “ugh you ate something that was alive and breathing” after the fact, but I try to focus on the fact that I gave my body what it needs, and really, that is the most important thing to me. I totally understand what you mean about not being able to picture yourself eating it though, I felt that way too. Eventually the cravings became enough of a signal that I knew I had to make adjustments. I started with eating seafood in forms where it didn’t look as much like an animal – like, clam chowder or other seafood based soups. I still couldn’t dig into a full on steamed lobster – I tend to opt for entrees at restaurants where it is cut up into pieces and things like that. In the end, this is just what works for me, you will have to find what works for you as well. I hope you’re able to find the balance you need – just try to be patient with yourself as you feel it out.

        • Erica House says:

          Thank you for explaining how you felt! It makes imagining what it may feel like for me much easier. As someone who tries to be as health conscious as I think I am I should honor my body’s cravings. I like your suggestion of eating seafood ‘in things’. I could absolutely picture eating sushi with seafood in it or tuna salad on toast (I used to love that!)

  • Sarah says:

    Ironically, I’m transitioning into a vegetarian diet after eating meat for my whole life. I sort of fell into it after discovering that skipping meat has helped clear up some digestive issues I’ve been dealing with. But I told myself that I would not make it an all-or-nothing decision and that if I crave meat I will still eat it. I really think it’s important to listen to your body and what it’s craving and what it needs. Unfortunately, I’ve never really liked seafood, so I can’t help with any recipe ideas, but I can’t wait to see what you decide to do and how it works out!

    • Erica House says:

      I also found that my severe IBS virtually went away when I went vegetarian and limited dairy. I’m glad to hear it is doing the same for you! I think I’m just getting to hung up on silly labels and need to trust that my body is telling me what it needs.

  • Don’t eat meat if you don’t want it or crave it and if it makes you feel sick. That’s not good!

    That being said, I was a vegetarian for 10 years. That was the unhealthiest I’d ever been. I wasn’t a good vegetarian, I just didn’t eat meat. I ate a lot of processed foods and faux foods. I don’t think that’s healthy at all! When I started running my body CRAVED meat. All I could think about was a big, juice steak. I tried to trick my body by eating faux meats but it didn’t work. I finally gave up and started eating meat again. I feel a million times healthier. I don’t eat excessive amounts of meat, but it’s a staple in my dinner routine for 4-5 days a week. The other days I try to eat vegetarian or pescatarian. Do what works for you!

    • Erica House says:

      I can’t even lie … anytime I drive past a checkers and think about their spicy chicken sandwich I am :::thisclose::: to caving. I didn’t have any meat cravings for years but they’ve gotten worse over the last year which is also when I started training for Marathon #1 and now #2. I’m 100% certain there is a correlation between the two. Thank you for your input!

  • dotsie924 says:

    I say listen to your body. I understand your love of animals–I love them, too. However, it’s not like I will go buy and/or eat dogs and cats and other common (even not so common) animals. So, I eat meat. But I am picky. I don’t like steroid chickens, etc.., no bueno. Animals eat each other–circle of life. Humans are part of that cycle. Do what suits you and your lifestyle. You’re body might be lacking in iron or something else found in meat. You should definitely honor those signals.

    • Erica House says:

      I started taking iron supplements about 2 years ago when I started running and read about the correlation between female endurance athletes and anemia. Whenever I crave meat now I wonder if it’s because of low iron. There’s only so much that a supplement can do and I’m never good about trying to get iron from plant sources.

  • A little over 3 years ago we were previously vegans for about 2-4 years, with a mix of raw vegan in there. Then about 3 years ago added eggs and fish back. Then slowly over the last few years had meat from to time, then last year we tried out paleo. Everyone is different and has to find their way. We have found experimenting is best. Listen to your body not others!

    best of luck!

  • Melanie says:

    I tried going vegetarian for a few months and felt worse, so I stopped. Of course, I was eating a ton of soy “fake meat”, so it’s no surprised I didn’t feel great. I have since learned that I have a dairy allergy, so it’s more difficult to get protein as it is. I eat a lot of fish and ground turkey. Whole foods has ratings on their meat designating how humanely they were treated, so you could definitely check that out. I know that personally a vegetarian diet doesn’t really support my workout / body composition goals.

    • Erica House says:

      It’s challenging for me not to rely heavily on the fake meats, even though I know they are overly processed and can effect hormone levels. The nearest Whole Foods is 3.5 hours away from me so unfortunately I don’t have easy access to them! You’ve inspired me to check out the meat sections of my local health food stores to see if they do something similar.

  • I’m a vegetarian for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is that meat just isn’t appealing to me! My fiance is mostly pescatarian, but he’ll eat meat if it’s ethically and sustainably raised. This works pretty well for us, since he’s mostly a vegetarian!

    • Erica House says:

      I can’t imagine how nice it would be to date a vegetarian! It’s not an issue for me when casually dating but I’ve lived with 3 meat eaters and that was a regular source of strain for us since I wouldn’t cook it!

  • Liz Lovett says:

    Hi Erica, I’m de-lurking, firstly to say that I love your blog and wait for each new post eagerly every morning. The thought, care and attention you put into the wide variety of posts is so refreshing, and you’re also an inspiration to a fellow healthy-eating runner! Secondly to say that in the UK we have this scheme: http://www.rspca.org.uk/freedomfood. Might be worth you doing a bit of digging to see if there’s anything similar in the USA. I also eat a lot of game. I have to say, I’m a passionate meat-eater and would recommend to anyone whose moral code allows them to, to eat it, I don’t think there’s anything like it – lean protein is just the best both in terms of nutrition and taste (sorry if this offends anyone, just my opinion).

    • Erica House says:

      Liz, thank you so much for delurking (and reading!) There are local farms that I could go to and get meat from here. If I decide to eat meat again I’d do that so I can support local businesses and eat humanely raised and killed meat. I’ve also said that I’d never eat meat if I couldn’t kill it myself (probably an extreme opinion but how I feel!) and I think going to the farms would help connect me to the process in a way that may make it easier for me to eat them (or much, much harder!)

  • Karen Jung says:

    I’ve been vegan for about 1.5 years and was vegetarian for 6 years before turning vegan, like you though, I never judge others for their dietary choices. Most people are surprised to find out I am vegan because I dont walk into a room with a big vegan sticker on my forehead. Everyone is entitled to their own personal life-style choices, I chose to be vegan and every other person I know, including every member of my family and boyfriend chose to eat meat. I respect their choices so all I do is ask them to respect mine. I get why you would be hesitant transitioning back to eating meat since veg is what you’ve known for the past 7 years, but if your body is telling you one thing and your head another, like most athletes it sounds like you are listening to your head, when you should be listening to your body. If you want to put meat back in your diet, don’t let guilt stop you, listen to your body. Do it slowly and gradually and see how you feel after. Especially since you are training for another marathon it would be interesting to see how you feel during this training session compared to your last. Since I know you love research, it is kinda the perfect experiment! Also, for the record, not all animals are killed inhumanely (except halal meat) trust me, I’ve been to a slaughterhouse. The welfare of the animal isn’t usually of concern, that being said however, when you stress an animal before slaughter it actually changes the quality of the meat, so people actually want the animals to be stress free. Additionally, it is usually done in a way to render them unconscious instantaneously (again, accept halal) not all farms and slaughterhouses treat their animals with respect, but I’ve been to a lot of farms that do truly treat their animals with kindness.

    • Erica House says:

      Ahhh I didn’t know that about stress effecting meat quality! It makes so much sense though since my own stress effects me so much physically. I’ve looked into some local farms that raise and slaughter their own meat so that would be an option. I think slowly introducing seafood would be first, and hopefully that would quench my cravings.
      It would be interesting to see what types of psychological and physical effects eating meat again may have on me. I’ve had a few others tell me that they noticed a huge difference in workout recovery time when they were eating meat. Sigh, such a big decision!

  • Amanda Yanchury says:

    I read somewhere that fish don’t feel pain. This makes it easier for me (a vegetarian) to sometimes eat salmon (it’s so healthy) and other fish here and there. Good luck to you! I am marathon training and thinking of incorporating chicken back into my diet, but I’m not sure I can pull the trigger. Glad to know I’m not alone here :)

    • Erica House says:

      I’ve read similar articles that fish don’t have the cognitive ability to interpret pain. I certainly wouldn’t want to cut the head off one myself still, but it does make eating them a little easier to stomach! Let me know if you decide to include chicken in your diet if you think it improves your marathon training at all. I’ve been hearing from others that eating meat helps significantly in workout recovery times!

  • Kim says:

    I was a vegetarian for a little over two years and started eating meat again back in August. Initially, I took everything but dairy and eggs out of my diet because I needed a change and it was something I gave myself a month trial. Within a few weeks I had no interest whatsoever in eating meat again. I did continue to eat seafood because I had less of an aversion to it and knew that as a runner it was a good protein source for a couple times a week.
    Last summer I began reflecting on my eating and weight that I’ve unfortunately gained in the past few years and decided that gradually reintroducing poultry and a little red meat into my diet might be important for my body. I was eating a lot of carbs in absence of protein and I don’t think my metabolism was processing it to the best degree, leading to weight gain. It was tough at first but I try to look for organic and local options, and find myself eating meatless several times a week. Being vegetarian also opened my eyes to foods I wouldn’t have tried otherwise.

    • Erica House says:

      I’m with you – no matter what dietary choices I make in the future being a vegetarian for so long is what inspired me to become so interested in health and nutrition. I definitely went carb-overboard at first but realized that was just going to pack on the pounds so I started experimenting with vegetables. So glad I did as I genuinely love them now that I’ve found so many amazing ways to prepare them!

  • Abby says:

    Erica, I was a vegetarian for 9 months during my journey of losing 60 pounds in 2011 to 2012. I was tiny my whole life, but college happened (y’know.) However, I was never really a big meat eater to begin with. I always gravitate towards vegetables and fruits before meats, and I think it’s due to growing up in a household with a mother who rarely eats meat and is a fellow healthfreak. Although I do eat meat now, it’s only a few times a week, and is usually chicken or fish.

    On the rare occasion, I will eat sausage or beef if I’m going to an Italian restaurant or a burger house or something. My boyfriend thinks I’m nuts when I tell him that I don’t really know what steak tastes like.

    But, I do mainly just stick to chicken and fish. Meat just isn’t one of my top priorities, but going vegetarian was too difficult for me to stick with for over 9 months. Definitely consider pescetarianism. It really does allow for some delicious sushi experiences, and you can also get your Omega-3s! You live in Florida! Eat the seafood. (:

    -Abby, or as you know me, abbysteng on Twitter.

    • Erica House says:

      Lol, I’ve never had a steak in my entire life (or most seafood) and people genuinely cannot comprehend that!
      I think if I reintroduce meat/seafood into my diet it will never become the focus of it as it once was.
      It would be an absolute shame for me to live in Florida for so long and not enjoy all the seafood here that everyone raves about!

  • Erica, if you do add fish back to your diet, be careful about how much you eat at first because of the risk of ingesting too much mercury. Not only is mercury toxic to anyone, but if your body isn’t used to digesting let’s say 2-3 tuna sandwiches per week then you could feel the effects quickly. That’s also something to keep in mind re: sushi since your body is totally not used to raw fish.

    • Erica House says:

      Thank you for that advice! I would definitely do a lot of research before slowly introducing fish into my diet. I wouldn’t eat it out very often, and should I buy some to prepare at home I’d make sure it was as ethically raised/organic as possible.

  • Dr. Mark says:

    As a meat eater, and someone who also eats primarily a plant-based diet, I respect your open-mindedness. With enough education and attention to detail, vegetarians can certainly be healthy people, but adding some meat to your diet simply makes things easier. I treat meat like nuts or seeds, and usually add it to meals instead of making meals out of it. I’ll be interested to see what you decide.

    • Erica House says:

      Thank you! I try to always remember that my opinions/beliefs are not law, and libel to change quickly given new information I come across. I always appreciate it when I meet others who keep an open mind about all topics as I try to do myself.

  • Caroline says:

    I was vegan for most of 2009/ 2010 (like you- I love animals) and at first, I felt awesome. Then I started missing fish and eggs more and more. I also was dating my (now) husband who is an avid fisher and hunter, so it was hard not to eat the same things all the time. I gradually started eating a few more things and now have a healthy balance of tofu, fish, wild game (I have no problem with hunting because I think it’s very “fair” and natural), organic turkey and chicken. I feel great now and am happy only eating red meat occasionally when my hubby gets a deer or ducks. I’ll be curious what you decide to do, and I’m sure it will be the right decision.

    • Erica House says:

      Living with someone who eats meat can be very challenging! I’ve never had guys take issue with me being a vegetarian, but as someone who loves to cook it was hard for me to think of great meals I could enjoy that wouldn’t seem ‘boring’ or insufficient to the meat-eaters.

  • Olya says:

    I have no opinion on this topic because I’m vegetarian for ethical reasons only and crave meat all the time, since the only food I ever loved in life was meat, fruits and chocolate. Saying that, the book “Eat to live” has convinced me that vegetarian diet is the best choice for health and vitality. I loved that the book was based on research, statistics and scientific evidence. The author does mention that fish is the way to go if you want to eat animal products.

    • Erica House says:

      Most of my research is pointing the same way – that pescatarian is the healthiest way to eat meat but it’s still best to be predominantly vegetarian. Looking back on the last few months if I ate fish whenever I was genuinely craving meat it would be 2-3 times a month, if that. Who knows … if I decide to try it I may hate it and be happy going back to my tofu and veggies!

  • I SO feel you! I was a vegan for YEARS! I have a milk allergy so that was out. I don’t like meat… its chewy… and those tendon parts.. ugh. LOL! However, I added in eggs and seafood and I feel SO MUCH better! Keep me posted!!

  • I was vegetarian at one point, and then slowly transitioned back to eating seafood and then chicken, but mine was more about health than about ethical issues. When I was pregnant with my second son, I CRAVED red meat constantly. All of my bloodwork was fine, so no idea why I so desperately felt the need for red meat, but I had to have it. Now we buy an eighth of a grass fed locally raised steer each year and that eighth covers all of our (4 of us + the occasional company dinner) beef eating needs for the year.

    It’s hard to figure out where on the spectrum to land and know what’s best for your particular situation. Good luck figuring out the best path for you.

    • Erica House says:

      I’ve read about other bloggers buying parts of steer like that and love the idea! It also seems that vegetarians craving red meat during pregnancy is very, very common. I always said if I was pregnant or traveling overseas I may flex the ‘rules’ of my vegetarianism a bit.

  • Jen N. says:

    I have always struggled between my love of animals and my love of meat. I do not eat fish though, I seem to be overly sensitive to the “smell of the sea” and it just turns me off from eating it.

    However, since I’m a bit of an environmentalist, I’d like to recommend the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch List:
    http://www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx/?wap=no

    They have guides based on your geographical location and recommend the best sustainable fish and seafood. The seas are being overfished and the guides help you make the best choices for the environment. :)

    I wish you luck on your journey to becoming a pescatarian!

    • Erica House says:

      Thank you for that link!! If I go pescatarian I’ll try my best to eat ethically raised/organic fish. I’m absolutely averse to the smell as well though so I’m not convinced eating it would happen often (if at all!)

  • I was vegetarian for about 6 months, and then I went back for this very reason. I felt weak and wasn’t getting enough nutrients. I always struggle to eat enough protein, so veggie just didn’t work out for me. I’m allergic to seafood and am sensitive to a lot of fish–and also hate the taste of some fish (though they all look good to me). So, I don’t eat much seafood. I still refuse to eat game animals. That’s a line I just can’t cross for some reason. My exes were all into those things, and it sickened me. For the most part, I just eat chicken and beef with a little bit of pork. I keep it to bacon and sausage mostly. I’ve made peace with it by going the extra mile to ensure that I only eat animals that are treated well. Luckily, I live in Colorado, so it’s very easy to find humanely raised meat products. If I’m really curious, I can actually drive to the ranches and meet the people raising my food. I can see how the animals are raised. I’m like this even with dairy products–especially eggs–and the fruits/veggies I buy. I think the food actually tastes a whole lot better, and my conscious is less tormented. It is incredibly expensive, but I’ve chosen to invest in it. If more of us do it, it’ll become mainstream and costs will go down. I know it’s hard to find these products in many parts of the country, so I never judge anyone for their food choices. But I do try to let people know they don’t have to support factory farming.

    • Erica House says:

      I LOVE that you are so involved in the whole process of eating meat. I always found it amusing when people asked me about being a vegetarian and I told them it was primarily for ethical reasons due to how the animals are treated. The most common response was , “oh, I just can’t think about that!” Well, then maybe you should eat it if you can’t stand the way they are treated! Someone else left a comment saying stressed out animals actually do produce meat that tastes worse so I believe that you can taste a difference in ethically treated meat!

  • I haven’t eaten pork in nearly 5 years; no bacon, no chops, nothing pork. I chose that life style, not because I’m Jewish, Muslim, or vegetarian, but because of a thing I saw about 10 years ago, in high school about pork and how unhealthy it is. Growing up, we ate pork and fish with almost every meal. Since becoming an adult, most of my meat is either chicken or fish (although, fish is definitely the primary). Fish is really easy to cook and, very easy to season. Go on YouTube and look up a show called Good Eats (they e plain cooking and do so with science!). They offer a lot of good advice on how to cook it. I’ve been doing it for years, and as college student, fish and fame have become my staple, lol. Plus, I’m a naturally muscular guy, so it fits my protein needs for martial arts without adding too much fat or negative traits to my diet

  • Thanks for sharing your story Erica! Being a vegetarian is a life-style choice and if you feel like eating meat again is the right route for you there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s important is to maintain a healthy balance of all the important food groups if you decide to eat meat again.

  • Ex-veggie Gone Eild says:

    I was veggie a little over 5 years until last month. I spent 3.5 of those years not eating eggs either before adding those back in. My husband also went veggie during this time. It was almost completely ethical but we were also hoping to eat healthier. My husband gained over 50lbs the last 5 yrs as a vegetarian, which is the #1 reason we’ve decided to eat meat again. I was unsure of things but also recognized this diet was not working for him. Even though I personally found maintaining my weight fairly painless, my hair thinned to the point my hairdresser mentioned that it was breaking..and I was constantly
    Lethargic and achey which were also considerations. We took a 30 day veg challenge that lead us to vegetarianism, so we decided to do a 30 day hiatus just to see how we felt and the difference was crazy. I had so much more energy, Not to mention I lost 10lbs since carbs started taking a back seat. Even though I am happy I was veggie for 5 years because it taught me a lot about veggies, helped me open up to foods I didn’t eat growing up and also taught me about where meat was
    Coming from and the importance of supporting local ethically raised animals vs factory farmed, I cannot deny that my body wants meat. I also do not kid myself the world would ever go “veggie” and I think buying organic / free range is now my way of voting and letting farmers know people will pay a little
    more to know the animals were treated well. Good luck! You can always go back if you try it out and it doesn’t work out for you. I can tell you now instead of going to a restaurant and choosing a side salad or fettuccini Alfredo (the 2 choices you seem to commonly have at a restauarant)…we have tons of fresh healthy grilled choices that are just better decisions for our own personal health.

  • Ex-veggie Gone Wild says:

    I was veggie a little over 5 years until last month. I spent 3.5 of those years not eating eggs either before adding those back in. My husband also went veggie during this time. It was almost completely ethical but we were also hoping to eat healthier. My husband gained over 50lbs the last 5 yrs as a vegetarian, which is the #1 reason we’ve decided to eat meat again. I was unsure of things but also recognized this diet was not working for him. Even though I personally found maintaining my weight fairly painless, my hair thinned to the point my hairdresser mentioned that it was breaking..and I was constantly
    Lethargic and achey which were also considerations. We took a 30 day veg challenge that lead us to vegetarianism, so we decided to do a 30 day hiatus just to see how we felt and the difference was crazy. I had so much more energy, Not to mention I lost 10lbs since carbs started taking a back seat. I am so happy I was veggie for 5 years because it taught me a lot about veggies, helped me open up to foods I didn’t eat growing up and also taught me about where meat was
    Coming from and the importance of supporting local ethically raised animals vs factory farmed. However I cannot
    Deny that my body wants meat. I also do not kid myself the world would ever go “veggie” and I think buying organic / free range is now my way of voting and letting farmers know people will pay a little
    more to know the animals were treated well.

    • Erica House says:

      I’m not sure why some vegetarians have a harder time with it than others! My energy has been great and I haven’t had any hair loss but I know many vegetarians cannot say the same thing. Once in a blue moon I’ll crave meat, and if I’m ever pregnant I may start to eat it again if my body wants it, but I could see going the rest of my life not eating meet. Just my choice though!

  • Katie says:

    Hi Erica,

    I’ve been going through the same contemplations and was wondering if you ever ended up adding in fish or any meat, and if so, how it made you feel.

    Thanks!

    Katie

    • Erica House says:

      I didn’t add any meat! I’m not sure what was causing the cravings but they were definitely gone within a few weeks and I haven’t had any more cravings for meat since.

  • Amy says:

    Im a vegan. I’m craving smoked salmon but I know that the best thing is to not support cruelty. I know you are thinking about your health so it’s best to get a blood test to see if you’re deficient in something. However even though my blood test shows that the only thing I’m deficient in is cholesterol, I still miss the taste of meat. Thing is, your cravings do not tell you the only thing that will be good for you. Your cravings are based on the fact that we crave high calorie foods first because that’s what we evolved to do. In the wild we have little food so we go after the highest calorie food. In the modern world, we can get enough from grains, legumes, nuts and seeds but honestly, eating meat is more pleasurable I have to say. If I do go pescatarian, I will be honest and say I gave into cravings. I can’t stand when people try to justify it. I do know how to get what I need, oatmeal with blue berries and ground flax seeds for breakfast is very healthy but I’d much rather bacon and eggs. I love Dahl and sautéed veggies but I’d much rather a chicken sandwhich. Whole meal pasta with beans and cashew creamy sauce and veg is healthy but I’d much rather a burger. I’m just bored and I wish vegan food was more convenient but it’s not. However, I turn to imagine how I would feel if I was the victim. I see how scared the animals are when they are about to be killed. I recognise it is their bodies and I would fight for my human rights if someone tried to do what they wanted with my body. I would feel much better if I never had to work and got a slave to earn money for me. But even if it was legal I would not because that would be wrong because they suffer instead of me. It’s good to put yourself first but not when hurting others. I’m in such conflict cuz I don’t wanna hurt anything but I may end up doing it. I and we all need help to stay veg but I’m not seeing much help, just people comforting those who decide to eat meat again. Of coarse veg diets can be healthy but meat just tastes so good and I crave it so honestly I don’t know what to do.



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