April 28, 2009

On being a vegetarian Part two

In order to finish the story of changing from meat-eater to vegetarian, I have to go back further in time. I mentioned in my last post that I was "ready to do a few things differently".  The question is why?  

When I was pregnant with my son, I craved steak.  A blood test revealed that I was anemic and I started taking iron supplements.  Aside from being very expensive, it's also a contributing factor to why I gained 60+ lbs. with him.  After he was born, I never really lost the weight.  I had the initial baby loss, but I quickly gained it all back and remained anemic for a few years.   We wanted to have another child, close in age, but my body didn't agree.  I had secondary amenorrhea due to my weight.  So when I was laid off, I was determined to eat better and exercise.  Cutting out meat seemed like a good way to shed some of those pounds, and I did.  I lost 25lbs. in a couple of months.  I got my period back in June 2004, and we got pregnant with Funny Girl in February 2005.  

I had a completely vegetarian pregnancy.  This time I craved bean burritos from Moes.  We had, by this time, tried most of the vegetarian alternatives out there, but we still weren't hip to the tofu.  We also ate seafood once or twice a year.  Technically we were pescatarians because of this, but most people aren't familiar with that term.  Robotson never missed the meat and transitioned to veggie hot dogs with no problems.  After all, ketchup was the only thing that mattered.    

I got pregnant with Dimples in November 2006.  It might be of interest to note that I gained only 25 pounds with Funny Girl with the only difference being a meat-free diet.  I lost all of the weight within a month of her birth, and then some.  My weight gain and loss with Dimples was identical.  However, this pregnancy was different.  I began to crave cheeseburgers.  It was really hard for me, because I felt like I had failed in some way by wanting to eat meat again.  I finally talked to my midwife about it and she explained that my body was probably craving something it needed.  I was still nursing Funny Girl, being pregnant, and the mom of an active 6yo was just too much for me to do without some extra energy.  There is no science behind what she told me that I know of, but it eased my mind.  I couldn't bear the smell of cooking meat, so I did drive-thru.  Probably once a week or so I'd get a Big Mac or Wendy's burger.  I also had a couple of steaks, but they  never tasted as good as I remembered them.  I couldn't stand the thought of eating chicken, and I actually stopped eating eggs after the smell began to remind me of cooked flesh.  (Yes, I know that is totally gross.  That's why I stopped eating them!)  I never tested anemic with Dimples, but I tried to take iron to alleviate my cravings for meat.  It didn't work.  After Dimples was born, my cravings went away.  I also ate fish a few times while pregnant, but I've since stopped eating all seafood.  B and I are "real" vegetarians now. 

The girls have never eaten meat, and all three kids have always tested in the normal range for iron levels.  They eat a lot of beans and soy-based products, but we do eat  eggs, cheese and other dairy products too.  B and I often discuss moving towards a vegan diet.  I know the girls would adjust fine.  Robotson would be hard to convince though, and I can admit I am little too fond of ice cream and cheese myself.   Instead, we just try to incorporate more animal-free meals into our diets. 

So that's the story.  I think the biggest thing for anyone to take away from it is that you probably won't miss your steaks and bbq as much as you think.   And I won't lie, sometimes I do miss being able to drive-thru for dinner. Family functions and picnics with friends can also leave you feeling hungry, but if you plan ahead, you can usually work it out.  We bring veggie subs or order pastas, pizza, or salads.  One thing I hear a lot is a dislike for vegetables.  How can you be a vegetarian if you don't like veggies?  Well, my kids manage it quite well.  They like fruit and salads so we stick with those.  Veggie subs for them are really just lettuce and tomatoes.  

Another question we get asked a lot is if we are vegetarian because of a love for animals or for health reasons.  Even though it was reading about the inhumane treatment of farm animals that started it, it was more about health at the time.  But as my views about people have changed over the years, my compassion has also increased for all living things.   I no longer want to eat cows, chickens, pigs, or sea creatures.  


  1. Ice cream and cheese are my biggest stumbling blocks with going vegan, too...

    I didn't give up red meat (then poultry, then seafood) until I found it unappetizing, and that's how I knew it was time to make the change. (The rest of my family still doesn't understand that, but we make it work...)

  2. Have you tried the soy ice creams? They seem gritty to me. Vegan cheese is sort of an oxymoron. I just need to give that up completely, but that means no more pizza!