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Animal Lover Tired, Has Meat Cravings

Help! Vegetarian diet for nine years...possible vitamin B12 deficiency?

I'm very confused about the recent meat cravings I've had. First of all, I'm 56 years old, so there's no chance of pregnancy!!

I have been on a vegetarian diet for nine years. I do not like fish, I don't eat chicken or turkey. This has not been a problem for me at home or socially until the last couple of months.

Lately, I feel as if I'm starving. It doesn't matter what meat substitutes I eat, or how much I eat, all I want is meat.

I finally gave in this past weekend and my body didn't react as it usually does when I eat food which has been cooked with meat. I felt fine and actually less tired.

I feel tremendously guilty!! My family, who eats meat, seems disappointed and shocked with me. Help....I am an animal lover who has fallen off the wagon after nine years. Thanks so much! - C.T.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice

Your meat cravings indicate that there's something missing in your vegetarian diet. This doesn't mean that a vegetarian diet can't supply everything you need, just that yours isn't. So skip the guilt, and think about what might be missing in your diet that you'd get from meat.

A strong possibility is Vitamin B12 deficiency.Vitamin b12 isn't actually in meat or other animal products, but is made by the bacteria that they support. Even if you're getting vitamin b12 in your diet, or from supplements, at age 56, you may not be absorbing it as well as you once did, for various reasons, or your body's natural stores may have been depleted.

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Try adding a Vitamin b12 supplement to your daily diet. Since your body can only absorb a miniscule amount at a time, there's no point in taking big doses. See if you notice a difference.

Get a general health check up to see if there are any non dietary factors involved, but include testing for dietary deficiencies. Since nutrition is holistic, it's better to get most of your nutrients from what you eat, but you may need a quick fix before you address the dietary issues.

Next, read up on vegetarian nutrition and look at your diet to see where it may lack vital nutrients - not knowing what you actually eat, I couldn't guess. But vegetarian protein in general, folic acid, omega 3's, iron, Vitamin D, or C, or trace minerals, would all be suspects. You'll need to make some changes, and may even want to consult a dietitian, if you have trouble figuring it out on your own.

Here are a few vegetarian nutrition references:

'The New Becoming Vegetarian, The Essential Guide To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet' by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis is a good book for any vegetarian to own and refer to often.

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Check out the Savvy Vegetarian Nutrition Report. You might also enjoy this SV article on B12. Look for links to related articles at the bottom of the page.

Remember, it's not vegetarian diet that's wrong, but your individual vegetarian diet that's not meeting your body's particular needs. We all get in dietary ruts, vegetarians included, and need to pay more attention to our bodies and make changes from time to time.

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

Reply From C.T.

Thank you for your reply. I eat lots of eggs and milk and I take vitamins, even B-6 and B-12. I appreciate your information and I will certainly check it out. After 9 years I'm not giving up! Again, I appreciate the information and I thank you for your reply!

Response From Savvy Vegetarian:

Protein Ebook

Maybe you just needed iron, or a big protein hit. My daughter just commented that when she was pregnant, she craved meat a couple of times, and satisfied the craving with lots of protein.

Do you eat tofu, beans, nuts, whole grains like quinoa, amaranth, oats, brown rice? Are you on a low carb or low cal diet? Whole grains and legumes together, along with nuts, seeds, egg & dairy (for ovo-lacto) generally give vegetarians all the protein they need.

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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