I had a question. I’m neither a vegan or vegetarian but I eat mostly plantbased anyway. Honestly for me the main reason is that I find it more easy and cheap. The thing is, I fantasies a lot about meat. I have this craving for it always. Not fish, chicken or eggs, specially meat. Which is weird because I have not eaten that much meat ever actually. I was thinking I could have a lack of something. Do you know what is usally the lack if you are craving meat and what I could eat instead in that case?
First off i think the best thing is to go to a doctor if you suspect you may have a deficiency – it is better to check just in case. However i thought i would share my thoughts and tips on this topic 🙂
Second, it is great that you are eating mostly plant based. That is awesome 🙂 And even if you aren’t fully vegan, you are still making a huge difference!!
Cravings can stem from many things. They can be emotional cravings such as the food is connected with a certain memory or feeling which you might long back to. And there can be mental cravings from maybe boredom – which usually is just when your mind wanders to food and what you have at home and you want to eat because you have nothing else to do. Usually just distracting yourself gets rid of these cravings, or drinking some water.
And then there is even emotional cravings which can stem from stress or from feeling a certain way whether it is anger, sadness, loneliness, guilt, anxiety… it can lead you to crave food which will give a release of dopamine and happiness (things such as carbs and chocolate can release dopamine and “feel good” hormones.) Or maybe it leads you to crave a certain food you ate alot of when you were in a happy state of mind/in a good place in your life. Often these are very strong cravings and they pass when the feelings and emotions have passed, and at times can be relieved by eating other foods which aren’t specifically the cravings of the food. But most often distraction and waiting for the feelings to pass is what is required.
And lastly, there are very strong cravings which don’t go away, even after several days and they can stem from a physical requirement or vitamin/mineral that your body needs. The body is very smart and often are very strong and persistent cravings a sign of something.
Cravings are rather complex and what will resolve the cravings depends on what type of craving it is. I am not going to get into them too much…. but usually you can tell yourself what type of craving it is… whether it is just boredom, tiredness, due to stress or from emotions. Sometimes all you need to do is distract yourself, other times drinking water and going for a walk helps and other times you need sleep or to eat more carbs in general (sometimes cravings for sugary food is a sign that you need more energy), and other times just eating the food you are craving is what makes it go away.
Craving meat could be a sign of two things… you may be deficient/low in iron levels, especially if you are craving red meat. Or it could be that you aren’t getting enough protein as a vegan/plant-based…. i am not sure how many beans/lentils/tofu/soya products you eat. But if you aren’t eating alot of legumes or other protein rich foods(which also include nuts, seeds, oats, tempeh etc) it could be that you aren’t getting enough iron or protein which can lead to the craving of meat. Being protein deficienct isn’t so likely unless you are also under eating as well as eating very little protein rich plant based foods.
The best is of course to get your bloods checked. But i would advise that maybe you 1) try to eat more beans and lentils and nuts/seeds in your diet which are both rich in iron and protein. Or maybe you could add hemp seeds, chia seeds or spirulina to your diet which is rich in protein and iron (even if you only consume them in small quantities, they have a high amount even in small portions):
You could also try eating meat and seeing if the craving goes away and see how you feel… whether maybe you feel more energetic/less tired or anything else.
however, i would first recommend that maybe you try eating more legumes and other protein and iron rich foods in your diet, as well as adding something with vitamin C to your main meals… example some tomato or paprika with your main meals or a glass of orange juice or an orange with breakfast. Give it a try for 2-3 weeks and see if it makes a difference to the cravings and if it doesn’t, then 1) go to a doctor and see what the doctor suggests.
As protein is used for many functions in your body, having very strong cravings for protein rich foods is something you should check up – just incase. Any strong, persistent cravings that don’t go away after making sure you are sleeping enough, eating balance and enough calories, distracting yourself and trying to eat the food… then you should go to a doctor. Also important to note that when it is a specific and persistant craving it is often more of a sign/symptom of something rather than when it is just a general craving for sugar or processed food which can often be due to tiredness, stress, not eating enough or boredom.
Other foods you could try eating more of are…. Enriched oatmilk, tofu, pumpkin seeds, dried figs and raisins.
I hope this helps somewhat… but once again if you think it may be a deficiency, the best is to get it checked 🙂 Also if you have any other symptoms, right them down and keep track of them to see if they get better or worse over time 🙂