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Gluten-free Casein-free + Multiple Intolerances Has Me Thinking About Jumping Off The Vegetarian Wagon

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I've been a vegetarian (technically pescitarian) since I was 15 or so for ethical reasons (mainly animal treatment & environmental concerns). I love to cook and have never been challenged to stick to my non meat diet, and I've NEVER been tempted to eat meat. The thought generally repulses me.


Over the past 7 months or so I've been sorting out my many food intolerances, including gluten & casein, onions, garlic, peppers, peanuts, sugars, and general sensitivity to FODMAP sugars. It has been a big change, but a good one since I've finally figured out the cause of my IBS, daily headaches, fatigue, etc. etc.  If I eat gluten I get a full immune reaction which puts me in bed for 24-48 hours and feeling out of sorts for days. If I eat dairy or the veggies, I get an IBS reaction (bad gas, cramping, dyspepsia). So, I sometimes cheat on the dairy & veg, but never with gluten.


Factor in a few other things: my hubby is also a vegetarian, and we both travel for work (will be on the road for the next 3 months).


All of this has me really questioning whether I should be self limiting my diet based on ethical reasons, when my body is already eliminating so many sources of food. I don't find it very hard to cook for myself at home, but I do wonder if I get enough protein and variation in my diet, and also if I am eating too much fish & (non-gmo) soy. 


If I introduced meat (or some types of it) it seems like it would be easier to eat out, and eat with family / friends, who struggle a lot with what I'm "allowed" to eat. 


But that said, I still have very strong concerns about eating meat for health/environmental/ethical reasons, and I feel like I'm simply "giving up" and feel embarrassed to talk about it with my veggie husband and family who lovingly mock me as some sort of vegetarian activist. 


Obviously eating meat wont solve any problems - because then we'll need to figure out who cooks in the family, and it will probably be more costly.


Apologies for the long rant, these arguments just keep going through my head! Wondering if anyone has experience with this? I'm not looking for preaching from either side of the fence condemning me for my thoughts - constructive feedback only, please :)




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If you have been eating fish and non-gmo soy all along as your sources of protein, I don't see how it could be a problem. Have you increased the amount of these things since going gluten-free? I suppose there COULD be such a thing as too much fish simply because of the danger of contaminants - you know, mercury, pcbs, and if your fish comes from the pacific, possibly radiation from Japan.


The foods you have given up don't look to be essential to me. The nutrients they contain can easily be replaced by other foods you can eat.


No one can tell you what to do about your ethical concerns. I am not a vegetarian and I seriously doubt I could ever become one (Talk about a limited diet - I have so many intolerances I think if I couldn't eat meat I would literally starve to death!), but I admire your stance. I love animals and when I see the way meat animals are abused, well, I have to turn away. I TRY to eat organic meats - grass fed beef, bison, free range chicken, not only because it's better for me, but yes, I feel a little less guilty knowing the animals were treated well.


So if you DO decide to start eating meat, try to go organic, and in your mind, treat the meat the way my Native American ancestors did - thank the animal for giving its life for you.


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Hey, thanks for the reply. I have increased the amount of fish I'm eating a lot, mainly because it is the only thing I can eat (other than crappy salads) when we're out at restaurants and at other peoples' houses (which happens a lot currently for my job). Soy/tofu is about the same intake as before - perhaps less actually since I'm no longer eating all the fake veg meat which is a combo of soy + gluten.


Yes I think if I add meat back it, ideally it would be locally sourced so I know where it is coming from.


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You can read my story for more details but I was vegetarian and for a decade vegan from age 20 to 42 (real vegan, real vegetarian (no egg while vego, no fish ever obviously). I strongly believe it contributes to leaky gut / intolerances and even early onset of celiac disease as you typically eat more grains as a vegetarian. I was the most extreme of all extremist vegans at one stage and believe me for me to turn around and suggest people eat meat for long term health is something crazy indeed but that's how I feel. It's a combination of a lot of things but Candida overgrowth in the very alkaline gut of vegetarians is one of the likely big problems. Alkalinity is a hoax, you really need an acid gut to be healthy.


It took me 20 years to almost kill myself and I don't expect to reach a cure probably for another 20 now.


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If you can still eat soy, then you'll probably be ok. If you can and are willing to eat eggs, then that's good too. My boyfriend is a strict vegetarian, and doesn't eat eggs (though makes up for my dairy intolerance with all the cheese he eats), and as much as I'd like to be more vegetarian, since I'm intolerant to soy and eggs bother me for some mysterious reason, then I can't survive without meat 2 or 3 times a week.


However, if you do decide to start eating meat again, find a good local butcher and buy naturally-raised, antibiotic-free. Go easy on it. Cook it yourself (when your hubby isn't home. dedicate a pan to it if you need to) and eat it up through the week. It will make it easier to eat out, but you're less likely to know the source of the meat when at a restaurant. Also, its more likely to be seasoned with garlic or onions or something like that. 


If you decide not to, just eat more good fats, nuts that you're ok with, avocados, lots of veggies, tofu, eggs, some fish (again, be careful with what kind of fish you're eating because too much can be problematic in the long run with mercury poisoning and such. once a week is probably fine. buy wild-caught or sustainably farmed if that's important to you).


As Bartful said, there are people here with extremely limited diets. It's a matter of balancing your health with your beliefs. We all have to compromise a little, but a happy medium can be found.


Good luck!


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Understood.  I spent the majority of my life as a vegetarian although not a totally strict one.  For instance, I would eat refried beans at a restaurant and not think about whether or not there might be lard in there.  Or the same for the rice and not think about that there might be chicken broth in there.  But now that I know that I am intolerant to chicken, that rice is off limits!  At home though, I did not ever buy meat unless I had company coming.  I would cook meat for them because it seems most everyone I know is a meat lover.


Then I got married.  Husband loves his meat.  Again, I would cook it for him but would rarely ever eat it.  But then when I got pregnant, I was urged to eat meat.  Most of the time, I did not but I would try to eat some once or twice a week due to severe anemia.


After I had the baby, the anemia continued so again I would force myself to eat meat once or twice a week. 


Then I learned of my multiple food intolerances which include dairy and eggs.  So I decided to go on a mostly raw vegan diet.  I could never go fully raw because I love my popcorn and beans too much.  But it was a vegan diet.  And that wound up not working for me for two reasons.  Again, the anemia came back.  But I also have gastroparesis and all that fiber from the raw veggies wasn't working for me.


So now after even more testing, I know that I can not have fish or shellfish either.  Or lamb.  Not that I would eat it.  And I don't like pork except for really crisp bacon on occasion.  So that pretty much leaves beef.  I do eat it.  I don't really like it.  I probably never will.  But I find that I can have ground beef mixed into something and I don't mind it so much.  Or sometimes roast beef that has been minced finely and also mixed in.  I don't eat a lot of meat at a time and I do only eat it maybe once or twice a week.  If we go out for Chinese, I order the tomato beef and eat the vegetables from it and only just a bite or two of the beef.  I do have trouble digesting meat with the exception of ground beef, chicken and turkey but...  I can't have chicken and I don't like turkey so much.  I will have it on Thanksgiving and once in a great while I will have a turkey sandwich but I seriously prefer PB and J or PB and pickles.


Bottom line for me, I just have to do what I have to do to keep myself healthy.  I also love cats and cats are carnivores.   So I am bringing meat and fish into the house for them in the form of cat food.  Plus feeding it to my husband.  Daughter just became vegetarian as of yesterday.  So working out our meals can be tough.


I don't quite understand the pescatarian thing in that I think it is no better to kill a fish than it is a chicken for eating.  Or maybe I am missing something.  I do use things made of leather.  And I do sometimes use sugar that is not vegan.  I also can't envision the entire world going vegan or even vegetarian.  I just don't think that would work for everyone.  I know some people who get very cranky and start to go nuts if they don't get meat.  I am not one of them.  Can't ever say that I have had a craving for meat or that meat even looks appealing to me.  I do crave beans and popcorn. 


So for me, at least for the time being, I eat vegetarian most of the time.  I also find that it is far easier to order food in a restaurant if I eat meat. 


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My main experience has been looking into vegetarianism because my husband was a vegetarian. 


I have a number of foods I can't eat, as well, and it made vegetarianism feel impossible. My husband is very pro-vegetarian, to the point that he was sure I just wasn't thinking hard enough, or trying hard enough, so I felt like I had to look into it as carefully as possible. One thing that helped me was to go to this website:


If you sign up for a free account there, you have the ability to enter in recipes, and then choose from their food list for every ingredient and it will show you a detailed nutritional writeup for that recipe.


I made a 'recipe' that included every food for every meal for the day, so I could find out what nutrients I was getting daily. I tried to make a couple week's worth of sample daily menus, as well, to see what variety I was getting. In the end, the results were really clear, at least in my case. With the limits in my diet, I would have to eat ridiculous quantities of certain foods just to get enough of certain nutrients (protein, for example), if I didn't include meat in my diet. It wasn't financially OR physically supportable to be a vegetarian. 


Even just the act of writing down what I had to eat made it clearer to me, to be honest. It helped me really think about WHY I wanted to do this, and why I don't. What you hope to gain from a possible change, and what you gain from staying a vegetarian, and if there are any ways to offset the disadvantages of either choice was something I looked at. Like looking for more carefully sourced meat that is not treated inhumanely, or that you know the owners of ( I think you mentioned that already, yeah?).


Just knowing exactly what all your thoughts are can really help. STaying vegetarian or not may not be a perfect solution, but if you have examined what will be happening in both situations, you're in a much better place, you know?


Wishing you good luck. 


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possibly helpful resources:


The book, The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainablilty. 


Good websites to find sustainable foods (animal and produce)


If you choose to add back some meat:



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