did anyone grow up as a vegetarian?

by (419) Updated July 07, 2013 at 2:38 PM Created March 02, 2012 at 2:14 AM

Hi Paleo People!

just wondering if anyone grew up as a vegetarian and if they are facing any symptoms today becasue of it?? ...or if anyone knows of any reasearch/studies that examines the 'vegetarian-raised' person's health (physical and mental) status as adults??


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4873 · March 02, 2012 at 2:32 AM

Yep...and I can remember symptoms as early as 9...which is about the same time the US went on the low fat high carb craze. My GI was destroyed by the time I was 30 despite eating a "perfect" diet according to all the MDs I saw. They just threw their hands in the air and wanted to medicate...Then I left the US for multiple, extended periods of time and discovered that I had no symptoms outside of the US in rural poverty stricken areas.

This is what began my quest to figure out why...and to eventually starting to eat meat at 35 and becoming Paleo in my 40s.

It has been a long and winding path to health.

11071 · March 02, 2012 at 2:50 AM

I was vegetarian from birth until about age five, then again from fifteen until twenty-seven-ish. For the last five years I was a strict vegan. My diet was very high carb and high soy, and my hormones are still all wonky and I get hormonal migraines despite years of eating well for real. I think people can conceivably be healthy vegetarians if they are eating nutrient dense food, plenty of butter, eggs and can tolerate dairy and eat plenty of raw and fermented full fat dairy, low sugar/grain consumption and plenty of vegetables...that is not how I ate at all! I have heard a lot more "recovering" vegetarian stories of impaired health than I know healthy vegetarians though...

11476 · March 02, 2012 at 2:54 AM

I became a self-imposed vegetarian at 13 (my farmer parents were appalled), so I hit it right on the crucial-puberty-time's head! My experience was just with delayed development- when I started eating meat again at 18 and had slowed down my athletics enough to gain weight, it was what I describe as a second puberty. Within months my breasts and hips felt like they doubled (had ridiculous scar-like stretch marks that no amount of shea butter could keep up with, later went away with bone broth!). One of the most noticeable things though was my hair- went from unbelievably thin, so much so that my hair dresser was prepping me on managing it for early hair loss (eek), to waaaaaaaaaaay way way way way way way way thicker. It is now wavy, thick, and so long, instead of the weak, breaking, straight stuff I had for my teenagerhood. For the first time I could grow my nails past stubs without them breaking and my skin had always been pretty good but it seemed more moist after ditching the vegetarianism. I had a "near perfect vegetarian diet" as well- I researched the crap out of it in order for my parents to allow me to eat that way (I had to supply a one month advanced meal plan with all the nutrients accounted for to my strict mother whose a nurse!).

I ate a lot of meat and fish as a child though, so I don't have any of those early experiences. My mom came from an impoverished family, so she was old school with her food thriftiness- breast fed us all to 2 years, was boiling bones for a warm breakfast cup of broth instead of coffee, fed us meat for lunch and dinner, grew our own vegetables, butchered our chickens on occasion, butchered our lambs all the time, caught crabs, collected oysters, and kept the freezer up to the brim with fish when they were in season so they lasted all year. We were outside constantly in the mud behind our house. That being said, my brothers and I are plagued with loads allergies from my Dad's side, my brothers got the eczema too and I got the asthma. I had an additional heart condition, which was a bummer. All in all though, we reached our full heights and are all robust now that we've grown up (and out of all food allergies, though the seasonal ones still kill us).

In my dietetics class we studied growth stunting in vegan children. I'm not sure what the fat content of their diet was (presumably low), but my prof was hypothesizing that it is probably largely due to nutrient density issues. Eating such fibrous, water dense foods as the major component of the diet fills the children up before they get adequate nutrients for the day, which usually creates a calorie deficit as well. Since growth stunting is well documented, he was hoping to get together a recommendation that advises more calorically dense food for children who are still in stages of growth, which actually would continue the recommendation through the teens and pregnant women (whole lot of growth involved there).

24412 · March 02, 2012 at 8:54 AM

I was raised vegetarian, and my mom was vegetarian when she was pregnant with me. She was well aware of some of it's shortcomings though and made sure that she took a lot of brewer's yeast when she was nursing, and fed me calf liver a few times per year, and cod liver oil on a fairly regular basis.

We did rely on soy protein powder for a lot of our protein needs, which might not have been best for a small child, but it was all the rage in the late '70's. I sometimes wonder how much of my hormonal wackiness may have started with that protein powder. I developed breasts before I was 8 years old, which seems a bit early.

I'm not sure exactly how that has impacted my health as an adult because I can't go back and live my life another way. I do know that I feel much less anxious now, can concentrate better, and just feel more alive using animal pieces instead of whole wheat bread to fill my belly.

517 · March 02, 2012 at 6:29 AM

i was a lacto-vegetarian for 24 years. The problems I list have multiple causes, I don't think you can separate the diet from my genes, acquired schema and choices: 1. became a zealous dick to anyone who ate meat--anti-social/maladaptive behavior. 2. consistently made food choices favoring the palatable (chips, baked goods) and forgetting the vegetables. Very poor food habits. Low capacity to enjoy new flavors. 3. very low energy 4. visceral fat 5. seborrheic dermatitis 6. asthma 7. frequent bouts of bronchitis.

10 · July 15, 2012 at 2:48 AM

Sorry this is a bit long and maybe a bit heated, but I feel I need to post something to add a little balance to this conversation. I am 32 years old and have been a vego all my life (and have no plans to ever start eating meat). I am an extremely healthy, youthful, intelligent (no mental problems at all re: above) and vibrant person although I will admit to low energy levels at times (tho my ex vego but now total carnivore workoutaholic best friend has similar complaints so while low iron could be the culprit I don't blame a lack of meat). But ok, the fact that I am here means that I'm obviously keen to make some changes but this site certainly spends a fair amount of time vego bashing. Yes I grew up on soy milk and TVP which I avoid like the plague now but that was the times - we knew so much less then! I have always eaten healthy but in the last year the pressures of work have forced me to be far more sedentary than I would like and for the first time in my adult life I have significantly put on weight (now 62 kg at 168 cm) so I am reassessing my fructose and gluten intake - particularly grains and fruit. I realise that vegetarians can eat high amounts of these, especially when busy because it's all so easy, but I challenge anyone to say that a lack of meat and fish in an otherwise balanced diet is harmful. I will add one thing, the friend I mentioned above is a blood type o who grew up eating meat and the vego lifestyle left her a bit anemic so she switched back - being vegetarian is not for everyone but neither is the alternative. And just for the record, I had my first and only filling 4 years ago.

149 · March 02, 2012 at 5:46 PM

I was raised vegetarian from 3 until 18.

The symptoms I attribute to it are a very sensitive gut (acne too). By the time I was 22 I had been on several food rotation diets, due to allergies (such severe rashes that I was "disabled" for a year when I was 19). In my early 20s I became really strict with my food combining and started eating animal products. It really helped and now 20 years later food combining is automatic.

The main physical difference between then and now is that I was always hungry, we had oatmeal every morning for breakfast and I would be starving by 9:30 am. I had a lot of cavities as a kid too. I never had much energy and at the age of 9 the doctor told my mom I was physically unfit (without TV and video games). When I increased the protein (despite being told grains were "perfect protein" and eating more dairy and meat in my 20s I gained a lot more energy.

The most prominent effect though was my mental relationship with food. In the process of becoming paleo a year ago at the age of 42, I learned for the first time, to really enjoy food, and to choose food based on flavour as opposed to rhetoric. The message in my head previously was that I was being bad by eating animal (despite my attraction to it) or that I shouldn't eat something because it wasn't healthy (according to the definition of health that I grew up with). So I overcame the mental effects, by developing more positive self talk and by seeing food as a nurturing act rather than either an act of deprivation or naughty binging.

2611 · July 07, 2013 at 2:38 PM

I was vegetarian from about 15 to 18, and pescatarian -- but in practice mostly vegetarian -- until I was 34. I ate what I think of as the hippie-CW diet (whole, low-GI grains, lots of vegetables, lots of fat from nuts and nut butters, protein mostly from dairy, grains, and legumes). My diet was probably mostly paleo-approved, except for the grains and the high omega-6 consumption. Overall I was doing fine -- high HDL, skinny but not emaciated, able to exercise as much as I wanted, filled out pretty nicely when I was lifting weights (until I had to stop due to joint issues, which is one of the problems I was hoping paleo would help with). It doesn't seem to have caused any obvious single-vitamin deficiencies, or at least nothing that lots of egg yolks, organ meat, oily fish, gelatin, bones, and saturated fat have dramatically improved.

8 · July 07, 2013 at 7:13 AM

it seems people generalise far too often, be a vegi and you get mental or physical problems. The fact of the matter is that you can suffer from mental or physical problems wheather you eat meat or not. I have been a vegetarian all my life(28) as has my mum(52), dad(64) and sister(34) who have lived healthy lives with no mental or physical problems. I have many meat eating friends and work colleagues who do or have suffered chronic illnesses, but this still proves nothing as most dont lead a heathy meat eating lifestyle. The problem in modern society is that excess is normality. We treat ourselves all week with disirable fatty unhealthy foods and then have the cheek to go all out at the weekend. Its an easy slope to fall down, I've been there a few times. Education and society plays a big part too. It cost alot to eat health wheather you are a carnivore or vegi. In the end its what works for you. If you want to be healthy and reduce the risk of illness you have to get a good ballance of nutrients and exercise. Being a vegi or meat eater shouldn't even come into it.

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