I have been a vegetarian since I was 12 years old, roughly 24 years. I became a vegetarian for one reason and one reason only- meat grossed me out. I remember riding in the shopping cart in the supermarket as a child and seeing the whole headless skinless bloody cows hanging I'm the butcher window and being traumatized by it.
Then my vegetarianism was further reinforced by the idea that it was ultra healthy.
Here's the problem. I have now learned that EVERYTHING I thought was healthy is actually not healthy! Soy, canola oil, whole grains!
I am ready to repent my SAD way of life and turn over a new leaf. The problem is that I honestly don't know if I can bring myself to eat meat! I want to, but I am not sure I can.
I also am a little confused on why legumes are unhealthy?
I need some help and support giving up my vegetarian lifestyle, so I am meekly asking y'all for some help.
I was in the same boat as you a year ago. I'd "only" been vegetarian for 14 years, but I was well conditioned to just not at all want to eat meat. I had zero desire for it and some kinds completely put me off.
It took me some very small steps at first. I thought back to the two kinds of meat I did eat before I became vegetarian: chicken and fish. I started with a very small amount of fish. It was nice! I also had some bacon, at my husband's insistence, and it was nice too. Suddenly it got a lot easier and I started feeling a lot better overall, which helped continue the cycle. I tried vegetarian staples (caesar salad) with a bit of meat added. Sandwiches. etc. Yes, I wasn't paleo immediately on switching from vegetarianism; that would have been a bit much for me, but kudos if you can manage it.
You don't have to eat cow if you don't want to. I don't eat beef very much and I don't really like it. Pick grass-fed, pasture-raised animals and (if you can) talk to the farmer about how his livestock are kept, you can really get to appreciate where the food comes from. One of the reasons I went vegetarian was being traumatised by how badly these creatures were treated for the short period they were alive, and the fact they were only born in the first place to feed us. However, I've come to accept that this is the way nature works and that eating with nature, not against it, is the best route; plus, choosing only those animals that genuinely had a nice life and great treatment, even if I have to pay more.
It also helped me to really focus on understanding why these choices were healthy and visualise the difference between paleo and my unhealthy, high-carb high-soy vegetarian diet (what each does to my body and the key things missing from the vegetarian diet I was following). Looks like you're on the right track there.
One tip, I would remember all the vegetables that you eat and all of the wonderful ways to prepare and consume them, because vegetables are most definitely a cornerstone of the paleo diet. You hear a lot of people saying they eat 5 pounds of rib eye steak or something every day and call it paleo, but it isn't. Imagine hunter gatherers in a tribe and what they might eat, and they probably have prime cuts of meat once or twice a year, meanwhile their staples were probably things like readily available vegetables, tubers, and all parts of the animal, which probably means more soups and stews than hunks of meat.
Honestly, vegetables are where the variety in my diet comes from, so from a culinary and dietary perspective, they are essential. If you aren't too worried about carbs, your options are even wider.
The major benefit i got from paleo were from dropping ALL grains and sugars, and dropping all of the bad oils. I would focus on that primarily. Also, eggs, especially good eggs (pasture raised), are delicious and a great source of animal protien and nutrition that are very versatile and accessible. I personally would start there.
Good luck -- i think you are going to see a huge improvement in your overall health!
I also became a vegetarian w/ my family at age 12 and remained either veg or vegan until I was 25 years old. I'm 31 now, and all I can say is, make the effort! It is not easy at first, but stick with it. Try new things. I started out eating just canned tuna and canned chicken because it's what I remembered eating as a child before we went veg. I gradually tried new things, and now I couldn't be happier. It's awesome that you've made the first step! Also, increase your healthy fats, like coconut oil and red palm oil, I think that's almost more important than digging into meat right away.
Here is some info on legumes you might find useful:
What about fish or chicken? Bacon? Bacon's the gateway meat you know. :) If you can get past the "trauma" there's a whole new world that awaits! Report back, I'd love to hear your progress. Good luck!
There are many people who have a viscerally negative reaction to meat (I've never been one of them). Once you've convinced yourself intellectually that this is a good thing to do, you can use various methods for desensitizing yourself. I've known people who couldn't stand ground meat, but thought a steak was OK. I've also known people who couldn't stand a steak, but managed to think of ground meat as coming from the store, not an animal, and therefore OK. Many self-identified "vegetarians" eat meat sometimes. Everyone is different, so you might want to rank different kinds of meat-containing foods on your own scale of how much the thought of eating them bothers you.
It's possible you might find it OK to start with broth, or eggs, or fish, or shellfish (if you don't already eat some of those). You could try adding a bit of chicken breast to some soup. If preparing meat is hard for you, get it pre-cooked or go to a restaurant.
Any of these options may or may not work for you. Remember that you don't necessarily need to eat meat continuously to gain a lot of the benefits. Good luck!
Tip #1 : Get some recipes for home-made soup that includes some chicken, lamb or whatever. I think a mild soup or broth would be the easiest way to introduce your palate to meat.
Tip #2 : As somebody has already mentioned, add a little bit of meat to dishes you already eat - salads, sandwiches, curries, etc.
Tip #3 : Take yourself out to a really nice restaurant, the best you can afford. The French are the best (imo) at cooking steak. This adventure should demonstrate how nice meat can taste when cooked with a high level of skill. Something to aspire to when you start experimenting in your own kitchen!
Lastly, take it easy on yourself. If you don't fall in love with the taste of meat immediately, don't force feed yourself, know that it will come with time and experimentation.
Ok, after rereading the initial post, I now get that you haven't had meat of any kind in 24 years. Your body is going to freak out if you go out tonight and decide to have a 24-oz Prime Rib dinner...
Ease back into animal proteins. Beef, lamb, bison, boar and, potentially pork, are going to challenge your digestive system. Commercial pork, since it's mild and essentially neutral-to-bad protein might be ok for a while. Commercial and free-range chicken is going to be your mainstay for quite a while. Turkey will be a potentially pain-inducing treat (it's worth it!)
I'd recommend starting out with "bland" animal proteins: chicken and "blah" fish like tilapia, cod, Ono or the like. Build a tolerance for those, then build the necessary digestive enzymes over time. A rich, delicious ribeye steak may not be within the target region for over a year, but a wild Alaskan salmon filet could be...
I've never been in this position, but I suspect thst the leaner more "challenging" proteins (elk, boar, bison, etc.) are more likely to cause distress as you transition to a more "predatory" diet.
Keep trying good, high quality proteins (grass fed ground beef, Scottish wild rabbit, elk, etc.) until your gut catches up with you.
Good luck, and MOAR BACON!!!! :)
was vegetarian for 10 years, don't want to think what kind of blood sugar i would have had by now if I hadn't changed. go slowly, mix up a lot of veggies in with the meat. cut meat into small pieces, it takes a while to get used to the texture again.
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