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Apr 18, 2011 09:58 AM

Vegetarian transitioning to omnivore lifestyle -- any advice?

Thanks in advance. I've been a vegetarian for 22 years, during most of which I ate milk and eggs, so animal protein is not completely foreign to me.

Any tips from anyone who has made this transition? Has anyone had bad reactions to reintroducing red meat in their diets?

I'm especially interested in establishments which serve organic, humanely-raised animal products, with a special emphasis on the latter. What are some Manhattan-based butchers and restaurants to visit? I know of the Meat Hook in Williamsburg (I know, Brooklyn) and a place in Chelsea Market...any other places? Much appreciated -- I love these boards.

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  1. Greetings! ! I'm not in your neck of the woods, but you might find this website very helpful.

    It's a site devoted to the paleo/primal way of eating, but there are many links with comments from former vegans and vegetarians that are making the transition back to eating meat. And they stress that one should avoid factory-farmed meat and eating local/sustainable as much as possible.

    Are you doing this for health reasons? Many veggies are finding that their health has suffered by avoiding animal products.

    3 Replies
    1. re: houndgirl

      Thank you, houndgirl. I'm going to check out that site, stat.
      I recently read Gary Taubes' treatise one why carbs are seriously bad for you -- and this has led me to question the effect a carb-based diet might be having on my health. I'm pretty healthy now, but I'm "just" 38, and worry about the potential long-term effects of a carb-based diet. I don't see myself giving up bread, nor brown rice totally. But, why not incorporate some humanely-raised meat?

      1. re: Aucoin

        I try to keep low-carb, but I love pizza and the occasional pasta dish. I find that I feel much less achey and tired with minimal grains. Some people do just fine on vegetarian (not so much vegan) diets, but it isn't for everyone.

        Waiting on delivery of a 1/4 grass-fed steer from a local farm this week, by the way!

        1. re: houndgirl

          I do love the pizza, and there's a lot of good pizza around. Enjoy that steer!

    2. A trip out to Stone Barns will ease your transition, as would a meal at Blue Hill (either in the city or at the farm). No one has more respect for their animals than the chefs and farmers at blue hill.

      (my first meal back after more than a decade of living a vegan and/or vegetarian lifestyle was a full rack of ribs at a wonderful rib joint in Chicago. no ill effects.)

      Blue Hill
      75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

      1 Reply
      1. re: nmprisons

        Thanks for the responses, nmprisons and hg. I am planning a visit to Blue Hill, and am encouraged that nmp's friend enjoyed ribs without suffering, afterwards. After walking around the East Village today, I was really relieved to see there are certainly a few restaurants which make a point of serving ethically raised and slaughtered animals. I imagine this could be very tough for people who live in more isolated regions.

        Blue Hill
        75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

      2. I think many of the better restaurants in the city pay great attention to where their meats are sourced from, so like you said, you're very lucky to be in New York! I've not ever been veggie for an extended period of time, but I do pay attention to where things come from and as I said, a lot of the "best" places are conscientious of where their products come from. Off the top of my head, my regular spots with humanely-raised, organic meats include Freemans, Spotted Pig, Breslin, Public, Little Owl, Joseph Leonard and Peels.

        It can be a shock to your system (I know people who felt very sluggish the first few days after eating meat), so I'd say take it slow. Perhaps go to the greenmarket at Union Square and buy yourself a small steak and some great veggies to prepare for yourself?

        Union Square Greenmarket
        Broadway and E 17th St, New York, NY 10003

        Spotted Pig
        314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

        Freeman Alley, New York, NY 10002

        Little Owl
        90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014

        210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

        Joseph Leonard
        170 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014

        The Breslin
        20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

        325 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

        1 Reply
        1. re: loratliff

          Great recommendations. I've actually been wanting to go the Spotted Pig for the past week, after eating at Porchetta (delicious -- awfully decadent, not everyday food).

          Spotted Pig
          314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

          110 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

        2. if you haven't had any chicken or seafood, I would start there before the red meat--and if for dietary reasons, red meat is not healthy, even if it's grassfed. --

          Sugar and refined carbs are unhealthy whether vegetarian or not...but I wouldn't just start eating red meat, without trying chicken or turkey or seafood first---and if I did, I would try it with sauce preparations you really like--and drink ALOT of water, but after the meal, not during.

          OR, just forget of all of the above, and go to Katz's and have a pastrami on rye and consider yourself back in the game.

          1 Reply
          1. re: janie

            Janie, a lot of water afterwards is a good idea! I've occaisionally gone to Katz's for the potato latkes, a serious example of delicious food that has probably little nutritional value ;).

            Katz's Delicatessen
            205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002