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Former Vegetarians- Please Read! - Page 2

post #21 of 45
I was vegetarian and vegan for about 9 years total. I decided to begin adding meat back to my diet for health reasons. The more research I did into human nutritional requirements, the more I realized that my body needed meat. I don't eat tons of meat, I use it as an ingredient most of the time. Probably the deciding factor was having a physiology class with Paul Bergner in Boulder. He had a lot to say about the long-term health of a vegetarian diet, and introduced me to the work of the weston price foundation.
post #22 of 45
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much, everybody, for your replies!

Here's why I asked-

I became a vegetarian 2 years ago, for ethical reasons. I still eat dairy and eggs, but no gelatin or anything else that is part of an animal's body. Anyhow, the last two years have been the most unhealthy of my whole life. I don't know if this is a direct result of my diet or just a coincidence.

In two years, I have:

-gained a large amount of weight. My frame is not suited to heaviness and I feel like I am wearing someone else's body. Diet and exercise have helped me maintain my weight and very slowly lose a few pounds here and there, but trying to take the weight off has been a nightmare.

-had absent or incredibly irregular periods, ranging from intensely heavy to barely there. Some as short as 2 days and some as long as 3 months.

-lost at least 50% of my hair. Fortunately, I had very thick hair to begin with, so no balding- yet.

-been incredibly lethargic. Not depressed, mood-wise, but just sooooo tired and lazy.

-had nerve problems that come and go. Symptoms include tingly feet, hands, arms, legs and occasional numbness or dull ache in all of those.

In the last 6 months or so, my doctor has checked my vitamin levels (normal), my thyroid (fine), checked for diabetes or insulin problems (no), induced periods and finally made a tentative diagnosis of PCOS. I have been treating the PCOS with hormonal birth control (with some success) but not all symptoms are abating.

I eat pretty well, though I do eat a good deal of meat analog stuff. I include lots of tofu, beans, nuts, eggs etc in my diet. I am pretty sure I get enough protein. I eat a variety of fruits and veggies. I do eat a lot of carbs, but not more than your average person, I don't think.

I have been taking a LOT of supplements, just to make sure that my bases are covered. I have always taken a multi-vitamin and extra Vitamin C. When I went veg, I added flax oil (for fatty acids) and B-12. In the last month, I have started taking Saw Palmetto for the hair loss/hormonal issues, iron and a B Complex. I am concerned that all of this is caused by a nutritional deficit of some kind. It all just lines up, time-wise, so perfectly with my becoming a vegetarian. I did not have any of these issues before that.

I wondered if anyone else had similar thoughts.
post #23 of 45
I was a vegan but went to being a Lacto-veggie. I wasn't healthy as a vegan. I felt like crap. I feel great as a Lacto-veggie. I am a lacto-veggie now for about 7 years.
post #24 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama2Bug View Post
Thank you so much, everybody, for your replies!

Here's why I asked-

I became a vegetarian 2 years ago, for ethical reasons. I still eat dairy and eggs, but no gelatin or anything else that is part of an animal's body. Anyhow, the last two years have been the most unhealthy of my whole life. I don't know if this is a direct result of my diet or just a coincidence.

In two years, I have:

-gained a large amount of weight. My frame is not suited to heaviness and I feel like I am wearing someone else's body. Diet and exercise have helped me maintain my weight and very slowly lose a few pounds here and there, but trying to take the weight off has been a nightmare.

-had absent or incredibly irregular periods, ranging from intensely heavy to barely there. Some as short as 2 days and some as long as 3 months.

-lost at least 50% of my hair. Fortunately, I had very thick hair to begin with, so no balding- yet.

-been incredibly lethargic. Not depressed, mood-wise, but just sooooo tired and lazy.

-had nerve problems that come and go. Symptoms include tingly feet, hands, arms, legs and occasional numbness or dull ache in all of those.

In the last 6 months or so, my doctor has checked my vitamin levels (normal), my thyroid (fine), checked for diabetes or insulin problems (no), induced periods and finally made a tentative diagnosis of PCOS. I have been treating the PCOS with hormonal birth control (with some success) but not all symptoms are abating.

I eat pretty well, though I do eat a good deal of meat analog stuff. I include lots of tofu, beans, nuts, eggs etc in my diet. I am pretty sure I get enough protein. I eat a variety of fruits and veggies. I do eat a lot of carbs, but not more than your average person, I don't think.

I have been taking a LOT of supplements, just to make sure that my bases are covered. I have always taken a multi-vitamin and extra Vitamin C. When I went veg, I added flax oil (for fatty acids) and B-12. In the last month, I have started taking Saw Palmetto for the hair loss/hormonal issues, iron and a B Complex. I am concerned that all of this is caused by a nutritional deficit of some kind. It all just lines up, time-wise, so perfectly with my becoming a vegetarian. I did not have any of these issues before that.

I wondered if anyone else had similar thoughts.
I was veggie for 8 years. I started out very healthy, no problems, etc. Went through 2 very healthy pregnancies. My third pregnancy was when the problems started. I had a lot of the same symptoms you've mentioned, but was in denial about them.

I finally decided to start eating meat again, and within 3 months, my Dh could tell a big difference in my moods, my energy levels picked up, and I just generally felt better.

I did not want to have to take 15 different supplements to meet my nutritional needs (yes, I know that "they" say you can meet all your needs on a veggies diet, clearly that isn't entirely true for everyone, or we wouldn't be discussing this). Adding healthy meats to my diet made a huge improvement in my and my children's health.
post #25 of 45
For me, I became a vegetarian because I thought I was being more environmentally sound and spiritual in my food choices.

A few years later, as I was becoming a Torah-observant Jew, I questioned my decision. I re-read all the "Judaism and vegetarianism" literature I'd purchased when I first became a vegetarian. I realized I no longer agreed with the underlying philosophy, and that I could be just as environmentally sound by eating meat sparingly, instead of never eating it at all.

So I started eating meat or chicken on Shabbos, and continued eating vegetarian foods during the week. I ate meat for the first time on the second Shabbos of the Jewish year, the week that the story of Noah (when meat eating was first permitted) was read from the Torah.

In the past year or so I've started eating more meat during the week, for health reasons- I personally do much better with more meat in my diet. I no longer believe that eating meat damages the environment more than eating vegetarian foods do- but I stopped being a vegetarian before I stopped beleiving that.
post #26 of 45
I went veg in 1998 to help better manage my PCOS. It worked for me.

I was vegetarian from 1998 until 2003 when I got pregnant. I got crazy cravings for steak while pregnant.

Now even when I was non-vegetarian before 1998, I NEVER wanted to frequent steak houses. DH joked that we hit more steak houses while I was pregnant than in the entire ten years we'd been together at that point.

From 2004 - summer 2007, I was vegetarian/vegan, comfortably so.

Then this summer I've been having meat cravings again. I am not pregnant but one thing that has changed is my menses has been coming more often. (Prior to this I was irregular as an affect of my PCOS).

I'm banking it has some link to hormones/increase iron need with regular periods as my PCOS improves, so I plan to ask me endoc. about it when I next see him. I may have to hit a dietitian to help me with a more iron rich vegetarian diet now that my needs seem to be changing.

A.
post #27 of 45
I was vegetarian for a few years, mostly because I was too broke to buy meat but also because I am an animal lover. Then I moved in with dh and went back to eating meat. But I am picky about the meat I eat (local, humane conditions, organic only in most cases). I don't like most vegetables so it is hard for me to get complete nutrition while a vegetarian. DD is a vegetarian because she is an animal lover. I am trying to make a deal with her that if she will eat beans & nuts I will go back to being veg. I would do it anyway, but it would mean making 3 different meals every mealtime and I am a lazy cook.
post #28 of 45
I'm vegetarian now, but I had a lapse for a couple of years. I was omni most of my life and then decided to become vegetarian shortly before I got pregnant. I guess my conviction wasn't very strong to begin with. I also missed being able to eat at many of my favorite places. First I added in fish, and I was happy with that for a while. Then the pregnancy cravings kicked in, and I just felt like eating meat dishes again. After DS was born, I discovered that he had several food sensitivities, so I had a rather limited diet and continued to eat a lot of chicken and turkey for protein.

Eventually I started to read about animal welfare and vegetarianism/veganism again and got back on the wagon, so to speak.
post #29 of 45
I haven't read all the responses yet, but I'll respond first: I was vegetarian for several years. The reasons I switched back:

1. I was missing out on a lot of ethnic foods. I really love to eat foods from different cultural traditions, and so much of it contains meat. This is truly my number one reason for switching.

2. Whenever I accidentally ate meat, I would get really, really ill. For instance, a well meaning person would make me veggie soup but use chicken broth, or there'd be beef hidden in the spagetti sauce.

3. I gained a lot of weight! I think I made the wrong food substitution choices and ate too many simple carbs.

4. I became aware of the existence of free range meat and meat sources that are managed in a more environmentally sustainable way. This helped me justify (in my own mind) adding meat to my weekly diet.


I'm off to read everyone's posts!
post #30 of 45
I was, an still am for the most part, a lacto-ova veggie, thus the username.

During my pregnancies and while breastfeeding, I get tremendous red meat cravings. Throughout my first pregnancy, when DH and I didn't have enough money to buy a can of tuna, all I wanted was a Delmonico Steak.

Now that dd has stopped nursing, DH and I are slowly started to wean off of meat, but our ds is almost a carnivore, so it has been a slow process. We became veggie in the first place because of inhumane treatment of animals and the use of chemicals in industrialized meat. I suppose we would continue to eat meat if we farmed for ourselves, but that is not currently in the cards for us. When I became a veggie, I did gain a lot of weight because I was going to college and all I could get on campus was cheese pizza and bean burritos or a salad that was already smothered with super fattening dressing. For me, it is really easy to depend on carbs too much when meat is not on the menu.
post #31 of 45
I was a vegetarian for most of my life, from 11 years old until a few months ago. (Although I went through brief meat-eating phases here and there, mostly as a result of cravings.) Anyway, I started eating meat again because I developed inflammatory bowel disease after DD2 and DS were born and that on top of my nursing two at once means that my caloric requirements are outrageous. I found that I just could not eat enough plant-source foods in a day to meet my demand for calories. I started losing a ton of weight, down to 20 pounds below my pre-preg weight. So I added in some meat, and now my weight has steadied. Meat is a dense source of calories-- it packs a lot of punch for the bulk of it.

I've always consumed dairy, but I've had to cut that out because my son has a serious dairy protein allergy, with intestinal bleeding and stuff. Soy, too.
post #32 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama2Bug View Post
[B]In the last 6 months or so, my doctor has checked my vitamin levels (normal), my thyroid (fine), checked for diabetes or insulin problems (no), induced periods and finally made a tentative diagnosis of PCOS. I have been treating the PCOS with hormonal birth control (with some success) but not all symptoms are abating.
There is a PCOS tribe in the FYT section. I invite you to come join us. There is quite a bit of information there on books and treatments. http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=641423
post #33 of 45
Jes,
If you are struggling with PCOS, then a vegetarian diet may be adding to your problems.

I found that when I was vegetarian I had a very hard time digesting the beans, soy, and grains that I was heavily basing my diet on. I have always loved healthy food and vegetables, and that didn't change when I switched back to eating meat. I also really like many ethnic foods--Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai---and many of those foods incorporate meat into their recipes.

I don't think it is true that I was "healthier" or that my diet was healthier when I was vegetarian--I actually think the opposite was true for me. I gained weight as a vegetarian and felt lethargic most of the time and often felt like something was missing from my diet. Some people find that they do fine on vegetarian diet, especially if they incorporate eggs and some other dairy into their weekly protein intake--but that didn't work for me.

Lisa
post #34 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama2Bug View Post
If you used to be vegetarian, even for a short while (say, a few months or more), but then went back to eating meat:

Why did you make that decision?
Were there health factors involved?
Was it outside pressure?

Please tell me about your choice in as much detail as possible. I have very specific, personal reasons for asking, which I will delve into after I've gotten a few responses. I don't want to give details that may cloud answers ahead of time.

[/I]

I aimed at reducing animal products (esp red meats) in my diet since age 13. I was a whole foods strict veg for 5 months at age 25. (I did these things for health reasons) I quit because I was not thriving and then had a miscarriage with a severe hemmorage. I was seriously craving beef so I started eating it and started eating traditional foods diet imediately after the m/c. I am so glad I did. I have realized I cannot be well without animal products (and I don't tolerate dairy or eggs well, so I have to eat the meat products, bone broths, ect).

I hope you feel better soon whatever you choose
Jen
post #35 of 45
M2B, just wondered how you are doing?

I struggle with some of these issues too. I want to do the veg thing, but I wonder if it's right for everyone. As I seem to be taking more and more supplements.

DD is allergic to all grains, dairy and nuts. So her diet is already limited. I can't/won't take meat away from her. So I see both sides of the diet dilemma.

Good luck, keep us posted.
post #36 of 45
I've only just skimmed this thread, but I wanted to say to the OP that I could have written your story myself. I was a lacto-ovo veggie for a decade before I concieved dd; for quite a while I stopped eating eggs but did eat fish instead. I was depressed, low energy, and became extremely overweight during this time. Generally I ate a very low fat diet and more starchy carbs than I probably should have, but nothing that would have explained the symptoms that I had.

When I got pregnant with dd, I was very sick and craved meat terribly. I ate chicken and some fish and some turkey during my pregnancy but couldn't tolerate red meat at all. Dd has a mess of food allergies and, through eliminating hers realized that I do as well. As a vegetarian, I was eating a great deal of the foods to which I was unknowingly allergic, and I think this was a big part of my problem.

Discovering the allergies encouraged me to start studying nutrition. I discovered traditional foods (no processed foods, humanely raised meats, soaking grains/legumes to release antinutrients, etc) and transitioned to a TF diet that is free of our allergens (wheat, dairy, and soy are the biggies). Eating healthy meats, eliminating major allergens, and converting to a traditional diet restored my health.

Even if you decide to remain a vegetarian, there are many things that you can do to improve your nutrition. You can experiment with eliminating major allergens and see if this helps you at all. You can learn about traditional foods, the importance of eliminating processed foods from your diet (modern vegetarian diets are LOADED with foods that have been processed in such a way that they are toxic), and how to prepare whole grains and beans to maximize their nutrient availability. I HIGHLY recommend reading the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, there is so much good information in there.
post #37 of 45
I have been veg on and off since I was a child.

I am not veg right now b/c I am pregnant. I know some people do well pg and veg, but I do not. No matter how much veg protein I try to get, I crave meat constantly and I get really low protein. So I usually cave.

Dd was allergic to milk, and I was vegan on and off for awhile. But my body does not do well with processed foods at all, and finding alternatives that I could actually eat was very hard. I was sick of eating processed junk because I can only eat so much dairy free pasta and honestly it got nerve wracking to obsess over it constantly. I guess I feel more comfortable with TF, but low meat and high whole grains at the same time. Kind of my own thing.
post #38 of 45
I have been vegetarian twice and during one of those stretches I was vegan for a bit (after I found out about rennet in cheese). I have to be honest - it was the worst I ever felt, and that is why I went back to eating meat. I was training for a marathon during the first time, and halfway through decided that there was no way that I could finish the training if I continued being a vegetarian. I became vegetarian because I just hate the way that animals are treated and slaughtered. It is still a difficult thing for me to eat meat, but I feel that for some reason my body needs it. I still do not eat red meat at all (fear of mad cow disease), but eat lots of chicken and turkey. Maybe I wasn't doing the "vegetarian" thing right and consuming the proper types of proteins, but in any case, it didn't work for me.
post #39 of 45
I was veggie for about a year in my early 20's but I started eating meat again because I just didn't feel good after a while. It didn't help that I didn't plan my meals well and I think if I undertook it now (at age 38) I would probably do MUCH better. Then again, I will always eat a little fish, even if I went veggie the rest of the way again.

Nobody pressured me and I wasn't sick, I just didn't feel well, I'm sure I wasn't getting enough protein and eating too much junk.
post #40 of 45
We were a vegan family (high percentage raw foods, no refined grains or sugars) until my son started exhibiting developmental delays. We discovered that it was due to a lack of DHA. We added fish into our diets first and the difference in everybody's health levels was astounding.

We have since added raw milk and some sustainable grass fed animal products.

Two books revolutionized my understanding of nutrition. The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Omega 3 Connection.
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