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Monday, June 14, 2010

Vegetarian Pregnancy Problem -- What to do When Your Fetus Craves Meat?

I was a strict vegetarian for years.  You know, the crazy kind of vegetarian that only religious Jews can be.

"What, that chicken touched this potato?  Of course, I cannot eat the potato!"

Well, all that changed when I was pregnant...

In the middle of my first pregnancy, Moshe and I were visiting friends for Shabbat.  They served a very simple lunch, including a platter of Israeli cold cuts.

Now, I love deli meat (especially corned beef and pastrami).  But, let's face it, the deli meat in Israel is lousy.

The quality of the meat did not deter me.  I sat at the table and salivated.  I felt as if the earth was about to open up and swallow me (note the Korach connection to last week's parsha) and the only thing that could save me was to eat the cold cuts.

But I was a vegetarian!!

Now, I was not really a fanatical vegetarian.  I did not believe that meat eaters were morally inferior.  I simply believed that refraining from killing animals was a preferable way to live. I always claimed that if I craved meat, it would be a sign that my body needed the meat.

For years, eating meat was a non-issue.

Then, there I was, craving deli meats.

For an hour, I asked Moshe what I should do.  I just wanted him to tell me: "It is okay for you to eat the meat."

God bless my husband, he never tells me what to do.

Always sensitive, he tells me, instead: "It is your choice. Whatever you decide is okay."


For an hour (an hour!), I suffered.

Then, I succumbed.

I swore my husband and my friends to secrecy; then I gobbled up the entire plate of cold cuts!

I thought my cravings for chicken would go away after I gave birth, but they did not.  Apparently, nursing had the same physical/nutritional effect on my body as being pregnant.  I needed meat.

Finally, I decided.  If I could face my vegan friend and admit that I was no longer vegetarian, I could cross over to "the dark side."

My friend, who is an ideological vegan, was so supportive.  I will forever be grateful to her for not judging me.

It took years for the cravings to end.

It took chemo to make chicken unappealing.

I am not likely to become vegetarian again.  I still like good deli and a good all-beef hot dog!  But I would rather drink a glass of milk than have a piece of chicken.

Meanwhile, it is part of our family lore, that it is my eldest daughter's fault that I am no longer vegetarian.

All the above is to explain why I was so touched when my eldest daughter called me over yesterday, to "come watch this (episode of Friends), it is all about us!"

The B-plot of the episode is about Phoebe, a strict vegetarian, who is pregnant and.... craves meat. 

We watched together and just laughed!!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Nancy McCarroll said...

too funny! Love your thoughts.

Bee said...

like you I was a strict vegetarian although I always cooked meat for my husband - don't believe in forcing others to accept my views and beliefs. My reason for turning vegetarian was after following a lorry down the motorway, lots of little piggies noses were peeping out and I knew they were on the way to the slaughter house. Although I hadn't and wouldn't eat pork it didn't make any difference I couldn't condone those poor little piggies being slaughtered. So some 20 years later when my doctor told me my diet wasn't suitable and to help my health issues I needed to eat oily fish twice a week and red meat twice a week. So for helth's sake I gave it a go and I can manage the fish but I cannot stomach the red meat, it makes me ill. At the end of the day we do what we have to do but if our body rebels there isn't much we can do about it.


Anonymous said...

My mom mentioned the bat mitzvah and I realized that I hadn't checked your blog in a while. So I did, and lo and behold it was about something that I was just talking about with my friend. No one in my home right now is a vegetarian (my son was for a while and my sister and father still are), but most of us are "fleishphobes" - we have a fear of being fleishik - for perhaps a chocolate milkshake may come walking by and then what??? We hate being flieshik due to our love of ice cream!
Take care!

Bernie said...

I enjoyed your story as I remember well the time in my pregnancy where I craved home made bread and peanut butter......I once ate a whole loaf myself.......what we do for our babies....LOL....be well my friend......:-) Hugs

Phyllis Sommer said...

i'm laughing because i'm right now pregnant and have caused friends to literally spit out their drinks when they've seen me eating hamburgers...since i'm also a vegetarian. but interestingly, i have no interest in chicken and with each pregnancy, i've happily gone back to vegetarianism with no cravings or interest in meat whatsoever. weird, huh?

it does make my friends ridiculously happy to cook meat for me, it's so goofy. "when can we have you over for steak?" they like to say...

Batya said...

I was a strict, no meat, no poultry, no fish vegetarian for 25 years. During that time my two sons were conceived, carried and nursed sans cravings. (My 3 daughters predate vegetarianism.)

Then I subbed in a jr high. After that, I was "hungry" and now eat lots of animal protein.

Forget ideology. Your body knows best.

Cheryl Pitt said...

I was a vegetarian when I became pregnant with my first! My doctor told me I MUST eat meat while pregnant so I staarted with fish. I thought I would vomit, but soon you couldn't keep me away from a steak LOL. I never went back either :)

RivkA with a capital A said...

Maybe we should form an organization called FVA
(Former Vegetarians Anonymous)

Melissa -- I always used to say "I am vegetarian because I love ice cream!!"

On the flip side, I still say "I would never become vegan because I love ice cream!!"