Many vegans and vegetarians have heard the rumor that your stomach will get things like stomach cramps, nausea and other ill feelings if you eat meat suddenly. There have been many different responses, but I thought I would start with my own personal experience.
When I first became a vegetarian, I went for my first year with my only animal products being cheese and eggs. At that time, I really did not know much about nutrition so even though I wasn’t eating meats, I figured that as long as I am not eating meat, I would be healthy. That meant I would eat cheese pizza, potato chips and other meat-free things that were simply not very nutritious. So at the end of the year, I wasn’t feeling well at all. I felt constantly starving and nothing seemed to fill me up or satisfy me, my energy was extremely low and I was miserable, although I had kept my word to myself about sticking with being a vegetarian for all of that time.
However, I wanted to stop because I felt so awful. Friends who were vegetarians warned me that I needed to ease back into eating meats by taking one bite one day and then two the second and so on. They advised that it would give my body time to adjust to the meats again and prevent myself from getting sick. I completely ignored their warnings and scarfed down a double bacon cheese burger. It tasted absolutely amazing and I loved it. Wonderfully, I didn’t get even the slightest bit sick. For the next couple of years, I was back at my old meat-eating self, but I still did not feel great and I was disappointed with myself for eating meats because I also believed in not harming animals.
So I did a lot of research and studied up on nutrition and learned how to be a healthy vegan and vegetarian by ensuring I would get the proper nutrients, proteins and fats. Now, more than 25 years later, I am a 98% vegan and every now and then, I will have a meat product, but it is at a rare minimum. The key for me was making sure I was getting enough whole foods and proteins in addition to taking extra iron and a daily multivitamin.