To start eating meat after being veggie for 27 years

(75 Posts)
Sleepswithbutterflies Fri 11-Jul-14 11:34:09

I became veggie when 4 years old.

Sadly over the last few years I have developed allergies to soya, quorn and nuts.
We are struggling massively to get pregnant and at our last ivf cycle my eggs were completely screwed.
I'm wondering if it is to do with the fact I basically have no protein in my diet. In studies high protein diets have shown to increase egg quality quite well. I'm only 31 and have good egg reserve so in theory my eggs shouldn't be so useless. I've checked and I'm supposed to have about 40g a day for my weight. I reckon I manage less than half of that on a normal day.

I'm contemplating eating meat (even though it goes against everything I believe in and I don't even like the smell / taste of it very much from what I can remember) - would it likely make me ill after not eating it for such a looonnng time? I remember liking turkey and sausages but not fish, beef or lamb. I'd probably only eat white meat tbh.

Shall l do it? Fertility wise I'm in last chance saloon.

dolicapax Fri 11-Jul-14 12:06:10

It's really up to you but it does sound as if your intolerances are resulting in a rather restricted diet, which won't be helping your general health. My DH was veggie for ethical reasons for 25 years. He then started eating meat and fish because due to his working hours he wasn't able to get a balanced veggie diet. His health, fitness and appearance have improved as a result.

Vegetarian diets can be wonderfully healthy, but they do require a little more thought to attain the correct balance of nutrients, not just protein.

Wishfulmakeupping Fri 11-Jul-14 12:06:24

If you want to go for it. I've been veggie for 21 years (feels old now !) but I've wanted to start eating meat for a while now- I've tried a couple of times and I just can't- its a psychological thing for me rather than ethical but if I could I would

MaidOfStars Fri 11-Jul-14 12:06:38

And YY to eggs, they are an utterly brilliant foodstuff. I am veggie and I eat loads.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Fri 11-Jul-14 12:06:45

I know at least three long term veggies who are now eating meat.

MrsBethel Fri 11-Jul-14 12:11:50

Personally, I'd go for a balanced diet including some meat, and I'd make any changes gradually to give your guts a chance to get used to it.

In your case the priorities seem pretty clear, and totally reasonable.

Sleepswithbutterflies Fri 11-Jul-14 12:14:00

See as an added bonus I'm type 1 diabetic so have to be careful with some of the protein shake drinks.

Absofrigginlootly Fri 11-Jul-14 12:20:06

OP - is it all nuts you are allergic to? If not all, try to get a balance of the other nuts you can eat. Pulses like chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils are all good sources of protein.

Do you eat diary and eggs? Both excellent sources of protein. How would you feel about starting with fish? Ideally we should all be eating 2 portions of fish a week, one of which is oily, and this is even more important during pregnancy as the baby needs the oils to lay down brain tissue.

If you are unsure where to start have a look on Hugh furnley-whittingstalls (?sp) fish campaign website, also his 'fish' cookbook is brilliant for giving well considered researched advise on which are huge most sustainable types of fish to eat. There is also an app you can download from the campaign which tells you which fish to eat/not eat at a glance. (Be careful with fish oil supplements during pregnancy as they can contain very high levels of Vit A depending on the type)....

Yes we are all born with our eggs but they take 3 months to mature (same as sperm) so any dietary changes you make now will make a difference to egg quality in 3 months time.

I know it's frustrating to see people drink/smoke/take drugs etc and still get pregnant.....but it's also worth considering that these population groups tend to have statistically higher numbers of problems during pregnancy (low birth weight, prem labour etc) and their babies are more likely to have developmental problems associated with drug/alcohol abuse etc.....plus, these people may just be younger, or have a naturally higher levels of fertility (good hormone balances etc) so try not to let this dishearten you, and try not to compare.

I know it can be overwhelming when you've been veggie for so long....but from my own experience I was a vegan for over 10 years....I started eating diary, eggs and fish when we were TTC and when I got pregnant I started eating meat too. The thought/smell of meat in the supermarket used to make me wretch before I got pregnant, but I actually started to crave it. I started small with organic, free range chicken once a week in a spicy curry for e.g. (To hide it!!) and built it up to try other things (organic beef etc). I was worried it would make me ill too...but it hasn't at all!! Good place to buy ethical meat is waitrose (if you can't find a good local butchers) they sell free range/organic meat.

Other lifestyle changes you can make that will have a positive impact on fertility include regular exercise, reducing/stopping alcohol intake or smoking, trying to de-stress (hard whilst undergoing IVF I'm sure!) and getting enough sleep. Perhaps ask your fertility Drs if they could refer you to the nutritionist/dietitian at the hospital for some advice?????

Good luck xx

MaidOfStars Fri 11-Jul-14 12:24:12

My other concern (sorry OP) is that your eggs are already formed (aren't they?), so would it make that much difference if you increase your protein intake at the age of 31?
Just to address this (with no recourse to papers, so only my existing bio knowledge):

While females start to make all their eggs during embryonic development, these eggs are held at a "checkpoint" until hormonal changes (puberty, monthly cycles) tell them to continue maturing. IIRC, the final process of egg maturation don't actually happen until fertilization. The process of maturation involves shifting lots of really really really heavy chromosomes around, and then dividing. These processes rely on the action of a specific protein network to do the work.

It is hypothesised that the ageing and breakdown of this protein network underpins the higher frequency of chromosomal defects in the children of older Mums - the heavy work of moving chromosomes around can't be done as well.

So, I can see how providing lots of lovely dietary protein for your eggs to use during maturation might aid the development of healthier eggs. But as I say, I haven't bothered to read anything to support this.

MaidOfStars Fri 11-Jul-14 12:31:55

Sorry, this will be my last spam post.

OP, I think the answer to your dilemma probably rests with the ethics underpinning your vegetarianism.

For me, it's less about killing animals and eating flesh, and more about the global economic and environmental impact of the livestock industry (OK, it's a little bit about killing animals unnecessarily in horrible ways). I think that means I could, upon medical advice, feel OK about eating meat for a short while (if such medical advice were reasonable).

I suspect if you are vegetarian based on a visceral dislike of eating flesh and strongly feel that animals should never die for our own ends, it may be tougher for you. If you feel this way, I'd advise you to work around it, because you may feel too down and guilty about the whole thing.

RhiWrites Fri 11-Jul-14 12:33:08

Do it if you want to but please don't then tell everyone how much healthier you feel now you're not a vegetarian. That just makes other veggies feel that you're dismissing their choice now you've seen the light.

ObfusKate Fri 11-Jul-14 12:39:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

littlejohnnydory Fri 11-Jul-14 12:43:43

Eggs
Lentils (I put them in nearly everything!)
Beans
Pulses
Dairy

Try including one of these at every meal. I think that as a society we eat more protein than we need - to get your requirement you don't actually need that much - 2 or 3 servings a day. A serving is 2 eggs, a small pot of yogurt, 3/4 cup of cooked beans, a 250ml glass of milk.

I've been vegetraian for a similar length of time. I think it would be very hard for me to start eating meat - I don't think I like it although I can't really remember eating it - I've stopped seeing it as a foodstuff, if that makes sense? I don't think it should make you ill if you do decide to, I do know people who have eaten meat after being veggie for many years and been fine - my ds (6) who has never eaten meat did eat some once by accident and it did give him the runs, I think because he wasn't used to it.

Wlould you be happier with ethically farmed meat? If you do decide to eat meat that might be more acceptable to you? Think it's copmpletely up to you tbh, whether you want to - I don't think it's necessary in order to increase protein in your diet if you don't want to eat meat.

mummybare Fri 11-Jul-14 12:56:17

I started eating meat about 2 years ago when I was weaning DD after also giving it up as a child. I didn't have any trouble conceiving, but I have noticed feeling much healthier since eating meat and having more energy.

It was really weird at first and I had to take it quite slowly - actually tbh I'm still quite fussy about strong-tasting or fatty meat and it has to be high welfare stuff. But I did gradually get used to it and it's lovely to sit down to a meal with my family and all eat the same thing.

Good luck with ttc, OP, whatever you decide smile

lougle Fri 11-Jul-14 12:59:07

Why shouldn't the OP tell people if she feels healthier? If she does, she does. If a vegetarian had made their decision on ethical grounds, they should be able to balance the (possible) fact that while they would feel healthier as a carnivore, they feel more ethically sound as a vegetarian. You don't have to make your decision seem 'right' on all levels for it to be valid.

OP, do some research into what nutrients you are lacking and which foods can supply them. I'm a meat eater but I do think that if vegetarianism fits with you ethically and you can get your nutritional needs met without compromising that, you'll feel happier.

Absofrigginlootly Fri 11-Jul-14 13:02:45

Also, just a thought, but you should definitely get referred to dieticians anyway as a type 1 diabetic during pregnancy....as you will need to be closely monitored to make sure your diabetes remains well controlled during your pregnancy. You should also come under the care of an Obstetrician for the same reason.
Whatever you decide to do meat-wise (do whatever feels right for you!!) I hope everything goes ok for you xxx

CorporeSarnie Fri 11-Jul-14 13:06:56

I am not coming at this from a terribly informed perspective, but was similarly long-term vegetarian (17y). Whilst I didn't struggle to conceive, I did feel the need to get more protein in my diet whilst pregnant and breastfeeding - I genuinely felt I wasn't getting enough. My iron levels were fine throughout my first pregnancy, but I was concerned about amino acid levels in a diet that didn't have much animal protein (although I did have dairy products and the odd egg here and there).
I chose to incorporate fish, I still can't bring myself to eat meat after all these years. I bf until I became pregnant again, so am still pescetarian three years on, will consider my options once this one is delivered and weaned.
I have to confess that being able to eat fish as a family does help me to feel that DC is getting enough protein and makes life easier than making two different meals (I refuse to prepare separate 'child food', with rare exceptions DC eats the same as us). We continue to have a fairly veggie diet as a household though (e.g. lentils, various kinds of beans and eggs are served more frequently than fish fingers!).

Wholenewsituation Fri 11-Jul-14 13:09:37

Sad that you have been veggie for so long and are now contemplating giving it up. My mother's oncologist was a huge meat eater. Having spent many years researching the impact of diet on human health he is now vegan.

Sleepswithbutterflies Fri 11-Jul-14 13:11:32

Sadder still that I can't have a baby though.
Not that this will necessarily make any difference but if I don't try I won't know.

I don't envisage eating meat forever. Just whilst attempting ivf again and in the run up to it.

mummybare Fri 11-Jul-14 13:21:47

Oh yes and my iron levels were very low in my first pregnancy when I was veggie. I'm 33 wks pregnant again now and they are normal.

I would never criticise anyone else's choice and I don't think that I've 'seen the light' in any way but for me personally, as someone who tends towards anaemia anyway, it has had a positive impact on my health.

Kelly1814 Fri 11-Jul-14 13:27:31

I was veggie for 20 years, then started eating meat again. No ill effects whatsoever! Am not a huge meat eater now but I do enjoy it when I have it and feel better for it.

Go for it!

TheSpottedZebra Fri 11-Jul-14 13:29:13

Obviously you should eat how you want to, but I suspect that if you're a veggie who is eating little protein - you are likely to not be eating a very healthy diet in more ways than just protein.

Could you do a little more research into healthy eating, or even see a dietician if funds allow, and figure out how to get the nutrients that you need, in a way that is acceptable to you and your lifestyle?

I'm another veggie here - no issues with my diet and with getting enough protein - but it is not as simple as cutting out meat and just relying on the 'and 2 veg' part of the meal with the odd cheese sandwich. You do need to eat differently.

Sleepswithbutterflies Fri 11-Jul-14 13:33:46

I think the problem is though re the protein is that where I used to eat plenty of soya, quorn and nuts I can't now.

I eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. And whole grain rice and cereals but I struggle with a protein source.

Pompatrol Fri 11-Jul-14 13:38:13

YANBU.
You can try it then change your mind, can't you?
Just because you do something for 27 years it doesn't mean you have to carry on doing it.
Which will you personally regret more, eating meat or not giving it a try when it's your last chance?
I can't comment on whether it would be of any benefit to eat meat, you would probably be better off asking a dietician or something, maybe?
Good luck.

TheSpottedZebra Fri 11-Jul-14 13:39:54

Can you eat dairy or pulses?

TheSpottedZebra Fri 11-Jul-14 13:40:33

Sorry - you've said that you DO eat dairy, as well as eggs!

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