In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can a vegetarian get sick after eating meat?” and will discuss ways to again introduce meat in your diet.
Can a vegetarian get sick after eating meat?
Yes, a vegetarian can get sick after eating meat. When vegetarians reintroduce meat into their diets, they may suffer transient stomach problems. It takes time for your “gut flora” and meat-digesting enzymes to re-adjust to meat digestion. Reintroduce animal items gradually, beginning with broth, then tiny portions of fish or chicken, and finally larger, fattier meats.
It is well-accepted that animal-based foods have a greater environmental impact than plant-based foods, emitting more GHG, requiring more land and nitrogen, and impacting terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity. Ruminant meats (beef and lamb) are considered of greater consequence than eggs, seafood, poultry, and pork and global meat consumption has increased 58% over the past 20 years to 2018. Consumption, now at 360 million tonnes, is accounted for through population growth (54%), and the remainder is due to increased consumption, which is expected to increase further (1).
When a Vegetarian Consumes Meat, What Happens?
Meat may be consumed in one of two ways by a vegetarian.
· They ate beef by mistake during dinner.
· Meat has been purposefully reintroduced.
Vegetarians may suffer psychological and bodily consequences after eating meat, regardless of how they ate it.
The Amount of Meat You Consume Is Important
After becoming a vegetarian, the quantity of meat you consume has an impact on how your body reacts. It’s preferable to gradually reintroduce meat. Small quantities of meat, as opposed to a big steak, hotdogs, or burgers, will have a far better effect on your health. If you ate meat by mistake, the quantity was probably tiny, and you should not have any harmful side effects.
Evidence suggests that the protein content of the diet carries a greater significance on the degree of protein of malabsorption than the nature of the proteins themselves. A meta-analysis of nine studies examining the relationship between dietary protein and ileal protein output found a strong linear trend between amounts ingested and malabsorbed in the small intestine (4).
It’s Important to Eat High-Quality Meat
When comparing a lean piece of chicken or fish to a bacon double cheeseburger, the difference is significant. It’s important to consider the quality of the meat you’re eating. The protein source and effect of food processing may play a role in altering its digestibility. The effect of heat or processing on protein also might affect digestibility and several other dietary and physiological factors may potentially influence dietary protein delivery to the colon and these include digestibility, quantity and amino acid composition of proteins consumed, effects of the food matrix and presence of other nutrients (4).
It’s recommended to reintroduce modest quantities of lean meats like fish, chicken, turkey, and pig if you’re planning to consume meat again after a long period of abstinence. These meats are considerably simpler to digest and have a lower risk of severe side effects.
Change Is Not a Favorite of Your Digestive System
Everyone’s digestive tract has developed its unique “gut flora” of bacteria. This “gut flora” is dependent on a person’s diet and changes over time to fit that person’s diet. When a person quits eating meat, the enzymes required to digest it correctly may decrease since they are no longer required.
Dietary composition appears to have long-term and acute effects on the gut microbiota ecosystem. Different long term dietary patterns, such as vegetarian/vegan vs. omnivorous diets, have significant influence on gut microbiota composition. The different gut microbiota content is shown to provide different food nutrients metabolites, termed postbiotics. For instance, SCFAs (short-chain fatty acids), phytoestrogens, or isothiocyanates are more linked with the plant-based food, while TMAO and secondary bile acids with the meat-based diet. TMAO, Trimethylamine N-Oxide, is a microbial metabolite believed to be associated with cardiovascular and neurological disorders. These and other postbiotics take part in the metabolism of the host in different ways (2).
The loss of meat-digesting enzymes is not irreversible. Your gut is incredible and will adapt to the requirements of the things you eat. If you significantly alter your diet, such as removing meat or increasing the number of fiber-rich vegetables in your diet, you may suffer symptoms as your gut adapts to its new requirements.
Any time you consume anything new, your “gut flora” may be disturbed, and your gut may require time to adapt.
Changes in your diet that are too drastic may alter your “gut flora” and create a temporary disturbance in your body. To alleviate any symptoms you may be experiencing, it’s recommended to make modest dietary adjustments.
How To Return to Meat After a Vegetarian Diet?
You’d want to start eating meat again, but you’ve been a vegetarian for a while. These are my suggestions for making the most of this change.
· Slowly reintroduce meat
The worst thing you can do after being a vegetarian for a while is going on a meat binge. It’s better to reintroduce animal items one at a time and in modest increments. Begin with fish, then chicken, and finally red meat.
The enzymes secreted by the digestive system depend on the individual’s diet. A study showed that there were changes of exocrine pancreatic secretion in a group of healthy omnivores who modified their diet by abstaining from meat (following a lacto-ovo vegetarian model) for 1 month. Given that, the body will need some time to readapt the digestion into the reintroduction of meat (5).
· Keep Vegetables in the Foreground
Your body is used to eating veggies. Keep those veggies front and center in your meals. Pasta tossed with veggies and chicken pieces. Baked sweet potato, roasted broccoli, and fish on the side. When you keep your diet the same as it has been, your body will adapt more easily.
· Encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in your intestines
Before resuming meat, consume fermented foods and take a probiotic pill for at least two weeks. Modulation of the gut microbiome through diet and pre- and probiotics may influence protein digestion (3, 4).
· Begin by making bone broth.
Start with bone broth before going on to solid meat if your digestive system has previously been sensitive to meat. Thermal processing, which is generally used in the cooking process prior to consumption of meat, can also change the meat proteins by thermal denaturation, which can ease the protein digestibility (6).
· Use Acidic Marinades
To tenderize your meat before eating, marinate it in acids like vinegar or pineapple juice, which function as digestive enzymes. Some proteins, such as collagen, have limited susceptibility to digestion, pre-degradation by exogenous enzymes can improve not only tenderness, but also protein digestibility (6).
· Take Digestive Enzymes if Needed
If you have trouble digesting meals and have a heavy sensation after eating, speak to your doctor about resuming meat and taking digestive enzymes (6).
· Invest in high-quality meats
Look for organic, grass-fed, and grass-finished meats, which are the best quality.
· Think about where your meat comes from
There’s a high possibility you become a vegetarian as a result of animal cruelty. If you do decide to consume meat again, make sure it is obtained from locations and in methods that are consistent with your own beliefs.
· Make Time for Yourself
It doesn’t have to be a competition. Slowly introduce meat back into your diet and do what feels right to you. Most likely, you made the switch to a vegetarian diet gradually. When it comes to reintroducing meat to your diet, use the same technique.
Other FAQs about Vegetarian that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can a vegetarian get sick after eating meat?” and discussed ways to again introduce meat in your diet.
- Curtain, Felicity, and Sara Grafenauer. Plant-based meat substitutes in the flexitarian age: an audit of products on supermarket shelves. Nutrients, 2019, 11, 2603.
- Tomova, Aleksandra, et al. The effects of vegetarian and vegan diets on gut microbiota. Front nutr, 2019, 6, 47.
- Koppe, Laetitia, Denis Fouque, and Christophe O. Soulage. The role of gut microbiota and diet on uremic retention solutes production in the context of chronic kidney disease. Toxins, 2018, 10, 155.
- Yao, C. K., J. G. Muir, and P. R. Gibson. Insights into colonic protein fermentation, its modulation and potential health implications. Aliment pharmacol therapeut, 2016, 43, 181-196.
- Walkowiak, Jaroslaw, et al. Adaptive changes of pancreatic protease secretion to a short-term vegan diet: influence of reduced intake and modification of protein. Brit j nutr, 2012, 107, 272-276.
- Lee, Seonmin, et al. Improvement of meat protein digestibility in infants and the elderly. Food Chem, 2021, 356, 129707.