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Meat Addiction

Posted by tinako on March 21, 2012

I tabled for RAVS this evening at a reception at my town hall before a film, part of a series of Localization events there.  I talked to one man for whom I didn’t really have an answer at the time, but I’ve thought it over a bit since then.

He was in absolute accord that a vegan diet was the best thing for the environment, health, the animals, and peace.  But, he said, whenever he had tried a vegan diet, he was hungry, he just didn’t feel good.  He was a sturdy-looking guy, and I don’t mean that euphemistically.   Big and muscular.  I asked him, what did he eat when he tried vegan, and he answered it was food from his culture: greens, beans, good bread, lots of olive oil.  I couldn’t find anything wrong with that, can you?  I asked if he ate enough and he laughed that he ate like two people, like a horse.  He said he craved meat, and when I asked, “You mean the texture, the salt?” he said, no, flesh, the blood.  I answered that was sort of strange, because he probably didn’t start salivating when he saw a squirrel run by.  He replied that he could never hunt, it was too upsetting, that he needed the meat to not look like anything.

You may suspect he was winding me up or triumphant that veganism didn’t work for him, but he was clearly sincerely disappointed that his craving was causing him to do something he had a problem with.

But that’s when the program began, we had to stop chatting, and I needed to leave.

So bicycling home I was thinking that on that Oprah vegan show I saw, there was one segment in which a staffer admitted that she felt angry on her new vegan diet, and Kathy Fresdon tells her she is probably suffering withdrawal from her addiction to junk food.  I wondered if meat was part of that.  I gave it up so gradually I never felt that, but have you?

I went a-Googling and came across Kathy’s posting on the topic: How to Kick Your Meat Addiction.  What do you think?

You know you are addicted to something if, despite knowing that it’s bad for you or doesn’t jibe with your ethics, and despite wanting to drop it from your life, you keep consuming it. Addiction entails a craving that has more control over our behavior than our rational mind and desires.

I also found this funny and interesting 2003 talk by Neal Barnard of PCRM.  Here’s WebMD’s take.  I couldn’t find anything at the Mayo Clinic or NIH, my two reliable main-stream sources – not surprising given how politically flammable the issue of meat addiction would be.

If I saw this guy again, I’d ask how long he tried to go vegan and suggest he might have been feeling some sort of withdrawal.  Do you have any other ideas?

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3 Responses to “Meat Addiction”

  1. Think of “Meatless Mondays.” If you see the guy again, remind him that it’s not necessary to change his diet overnight; he can cut back on the meat one day a week. On that day he could have a bunch of Gardein or whatever analog he likes. Slather it in steak sauce so it tastes familiar. Then, the next week, do the meat analog for two days. Gradually, and under his own control, he builds up at levels that are comfortable for him. Gardein can be his methadone 🙂 Just don’t use the word “addiction;” addicts don’t like to think of themselves that way. Just say “a lot of people grew up with the flavor and smell of meat; it’s what they know best. Luckily there are analogs now that taste pretty good and are a whole lot better for you.”

  2. tinako said

    Thanks for the tips, Rob. I’ve been asking every veg I know about this, and they’re all very helpful. Today a friend suggested perhaps the bread might have been the culprit. I think I’ll have a lot better suggestions for this problem next time I encounter it.

  3. […] Other examples of foods that I suspect create cravings in me are salt and diet soda.  I have no interest in diet soda unless I have had a few cans of it in the past few days; the first can is “meh,” the second one tastes better, and soon I am vastly preferring it to water.  From paying attention, I have learned that diet soda is not worth the craving.  Here is my posting on someone else’s meat addiction. […]

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