How to Transition from Vegetarian to Meat Eater

by Valerie Demetros

Eating meat again after choosing to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet is a major step, and the transition can be difficult physically and mentally.

But no diet has to be all or nothing. Most health experts agree that eating meatless is a good idea, but you don’t have to be on a strict vegetarian diet all year if you don’t want to.

If you’re planning to reintroduce meat into your plant-based diet, here are a few tips to ease the process:

Start with fish and poultry. Fish or poultry are your best bets; work your way up to denser meats. Give your body time to adjust to reduce discomfort.

Take your time. Don’t prepare a meat platter with everything right away. Take it slow and start with eggs or chicken, then work your way up. Add meat to your favorite salad or soup to introduce it slowly and ease any digestive problems.

Eat small portions. Higher protein foods like meat and fish often require a higher level of stomach acid for digestion so start small. Tackling a huge steak up front can cause some digestive issues since your body needs a lot of digestive enzymes to break that down, so go easy if you want steak right off the bat.

Add digestive enzymes. Delivered through supplement or prescription, these digestive enzymes help break down food so you’re not so bloated at first and help your body absorb nutrients. Digestive enzymes also help break down proteins, including those that cause inflammation and swelling.

Consult a dietitian. A dietitian can help you make the transition easier by giving you ideas on what to eat, how to prepare it and when to introduce meat into your diet.

Let someone else cook. If you’re not ready to cook it yet, order meat at a restaurant first or let your partner or a friend do the cooking until you’re comfortable.

Bacon. Called the gateway meat for vegetarians, bacon tends to be the most commonly missed meat and one of the first people want to try again. Add it to salads or try a little for breakfast, just don’t go overboard all at once.