Vegetarian Diet, Meat Cravings and Binges

Are meat cravings a normal part of becoming a vegetarian?

I have been trying to become vegetarian for about a year now and in the last 6 months I've gotten very serious about it. I only eat meat about once every week or two.

However, occasionally I binge on it and may eat it every meal for days. This makes me feel physically and emotionally sick. I blame it on PMS, but I don't know if that's really what it is (I feel like I crave fatty, salty things - hot dogs, fried chicken, sausage, etc.).

I want to have a vegetarian diet full time but my husband doesn't understand this, nor is he interested in joining me. I do all the cooking, so he's getting used to not having meat in the house. When we go out, I eat vegetarian if I can, but I don't ask about how something's prepared, even though it concerns me. I know he'll think I'm a pain.

Do I need to make up my mind and stick with it? Or is this a normal transition? I know if I told my husband to accept it, he would, but I don't feel comfortable confronting him about it when I can't commit 100%. I feel like a hypocrite far too often. - Anon

Savvy Vegetarian Advice:

Dear Anon,

This is part of the normal transition, except maybe for the angst and the guilt. Becoming a vegetarian isn't something you can do in a year. Allow yourself as much time as it takes. Commitment will come gradually - for now, just follow a vegetarian diet as much as you can without beating yourself up. Your problem isn't hypocrisy - it's more self-acceptance.

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Meat cravings and binging are signs of deprivation. You may need more fat in your diet. You may not be getting enough calories. You may need more B vitamins, especially B12. Or minerals, including sodium, or iron. Maybe you eat too much sugar? This is all speculation on my part. But are you eating any dairy or eggs? It might help if you did. Or you could plan on having chicken or fish more frequently, to forestall meat cravings and binging. The vegetarian nutrition report should be helpful.

When you're out for dinner with your husband, I think it's ok to ask what's in something before ordering it. Diabetics, or people with food allergies do that all the time. You don't have to be a pain about it - just say, "The soup sounds good - do you know what's in it?" An alert waitperson will get the idea. You don't even have to mention that you have a vegetarian diet, and embarass your husband, although I have no idea why that would embarass anybody!

However, if your husband can accept your desire to become vegetarian, you should accept his desire not to be. It can be tricky for vegetarian & non-veg to cohabit. The vegetarian report: Veg-NonVeg Eat Together has lots of advice about that.

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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