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veg*ns in WNY
we love food, yes we do!
eating abroad 
9th-May-2006 02:12 pm
This is kind of an odd question, but have any of you ever eaten something that you later found out had meat in it? Can you get really sick if you haven't eaten meat in a very long time?

This is my dilemma. I am leaving at the end of the summer to study in Ecuador for a semester. It's very possible to get by on veggies and rice, but Ecuadorians generally don't understand why a person would not want to eat meat. I've heard that even if you request a dish without meat, or tell them that you will get sick if you eat meat, that they may still 'flavor' your dishes with meat. Voluntarily choosing to not eat meat doesn't go over so well in a country where almost half the population lives below the poverty line.

I will be living with a host family, and while I am making my best attempts to communicate my diet restrictions, I can't help but think that at some point I will unknowingly eat something with meat in it.

I did a bit of traveling a couple months ago, and my flight home messed up and didn't have vegetarian meals for me. I ended up having to pick meat out of the other dishes...and a few hours later I had diarrhea and was vomiting (very ladylike, I know) in the bathroom for the rest of the flight. I keep trying to convince myself that it wasn't the meat...but it still freaks me out. I am so worried that I will get sick while I am in Ecuador.

Can eating a small amount of meat really make you sick? Sorry this is so long. Thanks for any info and advice :)
9th-May-2006 07:13 pm (UTC)
OK, here's the deal. Yes, you can get very sick from meat if you haven't eaten it in a while. What happens is that your body stops making the enzymes and such that will break down the meat into usable components. Most people start with cramping - the body no longer knows what to do with this foreign stuff and then it tries to expel it from the body as quickly as possible (neither is very ladylike, but the body doesn't understand manners!).

The good news: most people's bodies are resilient - you can begin making the enzymes again. The first days can be really rough, but after a while you can begin to absorb the proteins, etc. without being in the bathroom for hours on end.

If you want to avoid the awfulness of being sick (and I suspect that you will probably become ill regardless of the meat issue - water issues are ever present and veggies will have a whole new microcosm that you haven't encountered), try having some broth for a few days before you leave. Get your body used to the stuff again. I'm not saying become a meat eater again, but if there is a chance that you will be dining on beans soaked in lard it's better to prepare your body.

Enjoy your trip!
10th-May-2006 03:17 am (UTC)
Thanks for your advice!
10th-May-2006 03:31 am (UTC)
I just got back from staying with a family in Costa Rica and even though they didn't fully understand that I am vegetarian, I ate so much fruit there, it didn't even matter. Also, people from Ecuador (where a lot of my family is from) mainly eat rice and beans. Any meat in there? No. Sometimes there might be meat in the beans, but I doubt it. Just eat a lot of fruit while you're there. Poorer countries=less meat too. You'll be fine.
10th-May-2006 03:40 am (UTC)
Thank you, I'm starting to feel a lot better about this. Where in Ecuador is your family from? I'll be staying in Guayaquil...I'm so excited!
10th-May-2006 05:45 pm (UTC)
When I started eating meat again after a year off, I had zero problems.
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