From No Meat to Grass-Fed Red Meat
Better Nutrition|June 2021
Some vegetarians are rethinking the reasons they adopted a plant-only diet—and rediscovering high-quality animal protein, particularly pasture-raised meat.
MELISSA DIANE SMITH

Q: Four years ago, I became a vegetarian because I was disturbed about factory farms, and I also heard that avoiding meat was better for the environment. At first, I felt great, but about three months into the diet, I developed strong sugar and carb cravings. Over time, I gained weight and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. My teenage daughter, who also became a vegetarian a few years ago, developed anemia and stopped having a menstrual period. So I’ve started to rethink my beliefs about vegetarianism. Now I’m wondering if animals raised humanely using regenerative practices are not only good for the environment, but maybe important for my best health, as well.

A: Some people who adopted a vegetarian or vegan diet for health, ethical, and/ or environmental reasons discover that meat from animals humanely raised on pasture is a superior, back-to-nature alternative. Not only is this type of meat more nutritious and in keeping with the type of meat our ancestors ate, but allowing animals to graze and naturally fertilize grass can actually renew soil health and allow us to grow more nutritious food. This alone is a compelling reason to consider eating ethically raised meat. But improved health is probably the number one reason why some vegetarians are deciding to beef up their diets.

We’re All Biochemically Unique

Many people do very well on a vegan or vegetarian diet. But for others, it’s only a matter of time before something happens with their health, which leads them to rethink their diet. There may be several reasons why this happens. For one thing, plant foods are high in carbs, a quick-burning fuel that doesn’t provide sustained energy. Animal products, on the other hand, provide protein and fat, which are slower-burning fuels that can stabilize blood sugar and energy levels for longer periods of time.

Several nutrients—vitamin B12, iron, zinc, EPA/DHA from fish (omega-3s), and calcium—are either exclusively found in animal foods or are easier for the body to absorb from animal foods. That means that vegetarians have a greater risk for developing nutrient deficiencies, according to the 2020 documentary Sacred Cow: The Nutritional, Environmental and Ethical Case for Better Meat.

Grass-fed meats are richer in betacarotene and hard-to-obtain omega-3 fatty acids than conventional factory-farmed meats. And they are the richest source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that is believed to reduce the risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a number of immune disorders.

Former Vegetarians Tell Why They Started Eating Meat Again

What really matters most is finding a diet that enables you to thrive. The following are five examples of former vegetarians who added healthy meat back into their diets, primarily because doing so dramatically improved their health.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM BETTER NUTRITIONView All

Digestion Progression

How to deal with intestinal distress the natural way.

6 mins read
Better Nutrition
June 2021

From No Meat to Grass-Fed Red Meat

Some vegetarians are rethinking the reasons they adopted a plant-only diet—and rediscovering high-quality animal protein, particularly pasture-raised meat.

7 mins read
Better Nutrition
June 2021

Light Summer Refresher

Take a break from hot weather with this antioxidant-packed, cooling treat

5 mins read
Better Nutrition
June 2021

Men's Health HANDBOOK

Advice for preventing and treating ailments that most commonly afflict men.

6 mins read
Better Nutrition
June 2021

The Anti-Cancer Diet

Disease-proof your plate with science-backed foods shown to reduce cancer risk.

5 mins read
Better Nutrition
June 2021

5 Steps to Reverse Pandemic Weight Gain

How to shed the pounds you may have picked up after a year in social isolation.

5 mins read
Better Nutrition
June 2021

5 Reasons You Need NAC

It’s best known for promoting a robust immune response, but NAC does so much more—and new research suggests that it may even play a role in protecting against Covid-19.

3 mins read
Better Nutrition
June 2021

Collagen for Heart Health

This popular anti-aging supplement for joints and skin also boasts impressive cardiovascular benefits.

5 mins read
Better Nutrition
June 2021

Are You Gluten Free And Healthy?

If you’ve developed unwanted weight gain or heart disease risk factors after eliminating gluten from your diet, better carb choices can help balance blood sugar and insulin levels to take you to a new level of health.

4 mins read
Better Nutrition
June 2021

7 Super Brain Boosters

Maybe you find yourself trying to remember why you needed to go to the grocery store. Or wondering where you parked the car after a movie. Or questioning whether or not you’ve already fed the dog. If so, it might be time to consider adding some of these brain-enhancing herbs to your supplement routine.

8 mins read
Better Nutrition
June 2021
RELATED STORIES

UF/IFAS Professor Leads Effort to Establish Pomegranates in Florida

GROWING UP IN IRAN, Ali Sarkhosh worked on the family’s pomegranate farm, which has thrived for four generations.

3 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
June 2021

The Greening Challenge

Executive Director of CRDF Tweaks Approach to Research

4 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
June 2021

SIGNS of the SEASON

Cantaloupe Thrive in Florida’s Warm Climate

2 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
June 2021

Minor Scores Major Win

Longwood Boy Places Second in Inaugural Cooking Competition by PAUL CATALA photos provided

4 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
June 2021

GSA graduates 76 at June 13 commencement

BLUE HILL—Fair skies, seasonal temperatures, hugs, tears of joy, cheers and optimism set the tone for the George Stevens Academy Class of 2021 commencement.

3 mins read
The Weekly Packet
June 17, 2021

Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best

AS ANY TRUE FLORIDIAN WILL TELL YOU, June marks the beginning of the hurricane season. And while Floridians pride themselves on their unflappable nature when it comes to crisis prep, it would be reckless to think a hurricane couldn’t bring this state to its knees. The agriculture industry, in particular, has a lot to lose if a storm targets our state. And unlike the cone of certainty, one thing is certain: Hurricanes can, and have historically, taken a toll on the agriculture sector. The damage can be catastrophic.

1 min read
Central Florida Ag News
June 2021

Longtime area pastor Vencill to come out of retirement

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Rev. Dr. Jacquelyn Brannen, Katahdin District superintendent, have appointed Rev. Gary R. Vencill to serve the Brooksville United Methodist Church and the Penobscot United Methodist Church effective July 1.

1 min read
The Weekly Packet
June 17, 2021

In The Heartland Highlands County

New UF/IFAS Extension Director Takes Lifetime Work in Ag, 4-H to the Next Level

3 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
June 2021

Grassroots group seeks collaborative solutions for climate adaptations

BLUE HILL—If you’ve noticed milder winters, warmer waters, and a spike in sweltering summer days, you’re not alone. “Many, many people, hundreds of people, told us that they’ve noticed over their lifetimes that Maine is warming up,” said Dr. Cassaundra Rose of the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future. “Climate change is already a reality for Maine.”

5 mins read
The Weekly Packet
June 17, 2021

Building Premier Blueberry Breeding Headquarters

TO BUILD A BETTER BLUEBERRY, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is building a better blueberry lab. By mid-2022, we expect to complete U.S. higher education’s premier blueberry breeding headquarters.

2 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
June 2021