My Unrequited Love for Red Meat

It’s my birthday and my partner is treating me to a lovely brunch. Our meals were amazing and we are longingly gazing into each other’s eyes. Suddenly, it hits: a rather catastrophically sharp pain in my gut. My face contorts and I know I must make my way to the washroom pronto. Somehow the combination of coffee, steak and eggs has resulted in a blood bath. So much for romance.

As a previous vegetarian I know this might sound strange but I have a very intense love for red meat—rare red meat. A deliciously under-cooked hanger steak is enough to send me to heaven in one bite. These feelings, however, are unrequited. Sadly, red meat does not share my loving enthusiasm. Unfortunately, I have recently come to discover that juicy cuts of beef are not the only culprit of my agony; game, such as elk (yes, I found this out last night at a restaurant) also hates my guts—literally. Ultimately, this experience got me wondering: do others share the experiences of my tumultuous love affair with meat?

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Poor digestion and red meat

From the little research I have done, it seems that I am definitely not alone. The internet is filled with blogs and forums devoted to discussing IBS and dietary intolerance. A quick Google search of “red meat and IBS” comes up with over 500,000+ links!* Though it was nice to know I wasn’t alone, the vast majority of sources were not entirely optimistic. In fact, most nutritionists recommend that those with poor digestion should eliminate red meat altogether! As I dug a little deeper I remembered an article I read long ago that suggested those who suffer from IBS and gluten intolerance find it difficult to digest red meat–something about not being able to break down the enzymes, and other scientific stuff like that (clearly I am an expert). However, as a fitness junkie and budding power-lifter, red meat and wild game are amazing and rather necessary sources of protein. So, as I’m sure you can guess, I am not exactly pleased that my body has decided that this theory is correct.

Constant adjustment

As I mentioned before, most professionals (i.e. people with fancy doctorates) claim wild game and red meat is altogether destructive to the digestive system. According to the traditional naturopath, Sally Warren, PhD, the lucky few who suffer from IBS often have poor absorption which does not bode well for us steak-lovers. “A meal including red meat takes longer to digest,” Warren suggests, “which slows the energy release and requires time for the body to rest during digestion.”1 These are not really things our bodies like doing. Though I am not entirely happy about this suggestion (which is echoed in the nutritional community), in order to not feel that sharp, catastrophically annoying pain in my gut, I might have to concede. I know that there are other great sources of protein, such as salmon (which I love) but another problem emerges: I will only eat fish (or any animal products, for that matter) from humane, sustainable sources. So, alas, my ability to have a ready supply is not necessarily possible. Basically, the end result of my recent experiences and [rather little] research, leaves me to believe I will, yet again have to tweak my diet. The struggle is very real. However, do not despair my IBS friends! For tweaking our diets in a never-ending search for favorable sources of nutrition is one of our favorite past times, and clearly one of the most joyful experiences we face!
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