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For the Animals, For the Earth, For Ourselves.
Long-term vegetarians eating meat 
27th-May-2010 05:25 am

I have a question and I'd like no judgements here, just facts please!

I've heard it said that long-term vegetarians can get sick the first few times if they decide to eat meat again. For some reason I always thought this was a myth because I'd never heard the science behind it (or if someone tried to explain it it was always really sketchy, something about an enzyme...), but the point was moot because I didn't think I'd be eating meat ever again.

Anyway, I'm actually thinking of eating some meat on a single occasion sometime in the next three weeks and I want to know if getting sick is something I should be seriously worried about. I have been a vegetarian for five years, and the meat I'm considering eating is 'svid', you can read about it here (<---EEK GRAPHIC SORRY! Genuinely did not omit this disclaimer on purpose)

Like I said, I don't really care about judgey judgements and will not partake in any of the verbal sparring that seems to occur in the comments of this community from time to time, I'd just like some experiences and maybe even a peer-reviewed scientific journal or two on reasons why I may or may not get sick! 

27th-May-2010 12:30 pm (UTC) - Mod Note
While the OP has already requested that this topic remain civil, I just wanted to reinforce our rule about respecting other members of the community, regardless of their choices. I'll be watching this thread and, of course, if anyone has any issues, feel free to contact any of the mods.

Thanks! :)
27th-May-2010 01:17 pm (UTC) - Re: Mod Note
Pretty sure this was a clever trolling.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
27th-May-2010 12:33 pm (UTC)
I ate meat on accident once after about 6 years vegetarian (restaurant got a chunk hamburger on my veggie burger and with all the toppings I didn't taste it). I got horribly sick, threw up the offending meat several hours later and my stomach was very upset and unhappy for days afterwards.
So, yes, expect to get sick.
27th-May-2010 12:36 pm (UTC)
I know that once when I was on a school trip to Italy and the teachers tried to convince us few veggies to eat meat cos there was little to no veggie option one girl ate some fish and was sick straight away. I don't know if this was because of the thought of what she was eating or a biological thing though!
27th-May-2010 12:39 pm (UTC)
I've been vegetarian most of my life, but upon a few occasions have "re-tried" chicken to see what it was like...I never got sick, but it did leave me with a heavy, gross feeling. And the thought of what it was that I was eating was almost enough to make me feel ill. Even if I accidentally consume chicken broth, I feel just gross and heavy and ugh for a while after. I couldn't tell you about red meat as I've never eaten it in my life.

Edited at 2010-05-27 12:46 pm (UTC)
27th-May-2010 12:57 pm (UTC)
I think the key word here is "some". I don't think tasting will make you sick but if you eat a full portion, I would at least expect some queasyness. Queasy. Is that a word?
27th-May-2010 01:06 pm (UTC)

Our non-new agey non-hippie regular old (but awesome) pediatrician swore a deposition, and is willing to testify in any court proceeding, that my children cannot eat meat, because they have been vegan for so long, unless they adhere to this very strict way of introducing meat to their diets. The deposition was taken preemptively for a visitation proceeding that will likely never happen, but I like to be prepared.

The Pediatrician swore that eating meat even once could make the children very ill, give them gastrointestinal distress that may last for weeks, and there is a chance that their bodies will reject the animal protein strands in much the same way as someone with refeeding syndrome. She doesn't site sources in the deposition, but I imagine they must be out there if she's willing to swear this.

Were I you, I'd check Google Scholar for articles.
27th-May-2010 02:37 pm (UTC)
This is really interesting, will do!
27th-May-2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
yes and no
SOME people get very sick eating meat after being vegetarian (in some cases after going vegetarian for a short time!)
some dont

there is, indeed, a psychological component.. but also an enzyme thing.

basically, your body needs certain enzymes and etc in your stomach and intestines to process foods. some foods take different "specialty" stuff to process.
SOME people never produce much of it.. which is why they dont digest certain meats well anyway.....
some people stop producing these enzymes if they are not being used.
some people seem to keep producing the meat digestion enzymes no matter what (like me.... i can go vegetarian for ages and go right back to steak)

milk is a good example of this. for many, many people if you stop drinking milk/cow milk..... your body turns off the lactose digesting system. which is so many adults are lactose intolerant. for my husband he stopped drinking milk for a year by happenstance, and from then on, he was lactose intolerant.

i actually suspect this is behind the whole "blood type diet" thing... no i dont think its just blood type, but SOME people have very different enzyme responses.

i understand from my friends that travel, that some things that can help are taking enzyme and digestive aid capsules for several days prior.

you can also find help by boosting your good gut bacteria (meat is a little harder on gut bacteria, which is another reason people get ill)

other friends have said that you should try to avoid combining fast digestion foods (like most fruit) with meat if you are not used to it, as the meat is simply slower to digest.
you should be able to look up "food combining" as a diet book.. the idea is that food that normally digests fast will end up sort of fermenting in your stomach if you eat it with slow food.....

____________illness advice_____________
oh, and my favorite cure for all many of tummy ills
RAW Apple Cider Vinegar, water, and honey (i suppose any sweetener will work to make it palatable... the honey has some good enzymes if you get it raw though)
if you do feel a bit ill, drink a glass of that.

generic advice for all food related ickies.....
lots of good natural fiber like romaine lettuce and etc... plus water
this helps get anything that may be causing a problem out of your system fast!

if you think food has caused you an issue (any food) you want it out. gone... so do what you can to flush your system. at least make sure you hydrate enough
27th-May-2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
Once I ate some zombie salmon (that's what I call salmon that's getting ready to spawn or spawning) that my husband caught and that made me sick, but I think that's just because of how poor quality the fish's meat is at that stage. When we moved to Germany I went for about three months eating meat because I wanted to try some real German food, I never got sick from that. We moved to Korea in December and I ended up eating a beef burrito from Taco Hell and I forced myself to puke it up I felt so guilty, it didn't make me sick, that was just in my head. The portion I couldn't get back up, didn't end up digesting very thoroughly either. I'm guessing you'll have a hard time finding much scientific evidence on this subject since I have a feeling not much research has gone into it.

The Icelandic people come up with some crazy stuff to eat, I know they eat fermented shark as well. Are you going to Iceland too? If so, I'm very jealous!
27th-May-2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
i got horribly sick when i ate meat after being a vegetarian for five years! i ate chicken and realized it didn't even taste good anyway!
27th-May-2010 02:02 pm (UTC)
First of all, it is a myth that your body stops producing the enzymes to digest meat altogether. This is somewhat gross, but the fact is that we continually slough skin from inside our mouths and esophagus and digest that,and the same enzymes that digest meat take care of that.

In vegetarians, the amount of those enzymes that are produced in our systems is greatly reduced over time, so we do get sick when returning to eating meat. It's definitely not a good idea to return to eating lots of meat, but eating a little bit should not make you horribly ill.

27th-May-2010 07:34 pm (UTC)
I'm just following this thread out of interest, and even though i've taken Bio and Physio courses i never thought of this before! Thanks for the info.
27th-May-2010 02:33 pm (UTC)
I had a steak at Disneyland (their only veg entree was the same thing that I had eaten the last two nights, wasn't interested in eating it again). My tummy felt a little off while I was actually eating it but I think that was more of the fact I couldn't stop thinking about all the horrors my meal endured before it reached my plate.
27th-May-2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
I would appreciate very much if you would edit your post to include a warning about what the link contains.
27th-May-2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
Hmm the general consensus seems to be that people should re-introduce meat slowly and with caution, but it won't necessarily make one super ill in the long term. I also discovered that someone should do an actual study on this, there seems to be a gap in the literature.
27th-May-2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
I have a friend that was vegetarian his whole life that started eating meat in college. He doesn't remember (and it hasn't been that long, so it must not have been memorable) but said maybe his stomach hurt a little, but he didn't puke or anything.
27th-May-2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
Meat is harder to digest than veggies! So you may get sick/feel nauseated. The most likely thing will be that you'll get stomach cramps.
27th-May-2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
Are you ovo-lacto? I'm not sure if that would make a difference, but it would interesting to see if that keeps your stomach a little more meat-ready.

I think I would have had trouble with svid even as an omni, but probably not for digestion reasons.
27th-May-2010 04:18 pm (UTC)
I wonder if you combined it with fresh pineapple, which has enzymes that break down protein, if it might be a bit easier. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bromelain)

I'd agree that active yogurt would probably help as well. I went lacto-ovo after being vegan for 3 years and went the first several days with nothing but yogurt, then progressed from there. No problems.
27th-May-2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
I don't know why we're surprised that the link shows meat when you clearly stated you were going to eat meat, but anyway...

I've accidentally eaten meat a few times; most recently a scallop and a ham chunk in the same day (damn cruise ship mislabeling food items!) and I was fine, but I also have a crazy strong stomach. My friend. who has been vegan for seven years, had a similar experience and similarly was fine.

From what I've read, sensitivity is a case by case basis.
27th-May-2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
And (really not intended to be snarky, but...) since I'm assuming you're going to Iceland, you may as well try hákarl as well.

Iceland has some crazy-ass food
27th-May-2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
You'll just have to try and see, really. A lot of people who don't eat a certain type of food for long periods of time and then begin eating it again will become ill.
27th-May-2010 05:52 pm (UTC)
When I was veg for the first time for a couple years I ended up eating some chicken when I was visiting Paris and spent the next 2 days on the toilet. I think it's because your body isn't used to digesting the meat it's a shock to your system.
27th-May-2010 06:01 pm (UTC)
I stopped eating meat right before I turned 17, never really ate it again until about a year ago, around when I turned 20. For a few months I was eating meat semi-regularly, but when I first started again I got sick to my stomach a few times--sick as in, up all night puking. This happened again probably two months ago after eating a rich steak dinner, and then it happened again after eating some bacon--felt like my intestines were clogged or blocked off or something and the only way to get the meat out was by throwing up from the very bottom of my gut. Not pleasant. I've swtiched back to only eating fish.
27th-May-2010 06:25 pm (UTC)
I can only speak from my own experiences. I have been a vegetarian for 23 years. I get seriously ill even with the slightest meat interferance - we tried a new chippy for a while when I was at uni a couple of years ago, and I got ill after eating the chips. I assumed it was something else.. tried it again, got ill again, asked the next time we went and it turns out they cook the chips in the same oil as they cook the fish in.

I think the science behind it is that your Gi tract gets used to not processing meat, and loses the ability to process meat.

It's the same with other types of food as well.
27th-May-2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
Agreed. Isn't it the worst feeling? Ugh. My stomach hurts just remembering how it feels.
27th-May-2010 06:50 pm (UTC)
I was a ovo-lacto vegetarian for 5 years, and started eating meat again about a year ago. I never got sick over it. I think that when people get sick, it's probably more a mental thing rather then physical.

Though you are brave for wanting to eat such a thing...I just don't think I could do it!
27th-May-2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's mental vs physical. I get sick and know it was because meat got slipped into my food without actually having proof. I have no idea if it actually happened until after I get over the horrid sickness and track down the person that made my food & ask them if meat was in it by mistake.
27th-May-2010 08:18 pm (UTC)
I've been a vegetarian for almost 9 years. A few times, as it's bound to happen when you trust others to cook you food occasionally, some meat products have been accidentally slipped into my food. It makes me sick beyond all belief each and every time. Even when it was just fries that weren't cooked in the proper grease & things like that. I get sick to my stomach, get major cramps, and generally just feel like I want to die. It's a rather horrible experience.
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