very anemic, trying to not eat meat - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-10-2012, 07:17 PM
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I am have trouble sticking to a vegetarian diet, especially since I'm quite anemic due to having Ulcerative Colitis and just getting over a colon flareup. I do have the option of getting a blood transfusion; however, I am at a very high risk for infections so it's best for me not to.

So far I've been able to eliminate cows and pigs from my diet. I haven't eaten these two animals in almost 10 years. Now the mere thought of eating them grosses me out. I've also been able to eliminate fish from my diet, mostly due to the fact that most of our fish is not safe to eat. It is filled with antibiotics, heavy metals, ... My main issue right now is that I'm anemic. I will eat chicken during those times I feel really weak. I am looking for alternatives. Does anyone else have this issue? Is there anyone else who is a vegetarian or who is trying to become a vegetarian and suffers from anemia?

I'm both iron-deficient and oxygen-deficient anemic. I also get dehydrated. My diet is as follows:

Spinach (for non-Heme iron)
Fortified cereals (for non-Heme iron)
Fortified breads (for non-Heme iron)
Vitamins, including a daily vitamin, iron supplements, folic acid, B-complex, vitamin C...
Other vegetables besides spinach
Tomatoes
Citrus
Berries
Nuts
Beans
Seeds (especially sunflower seed butter)
Vegetarian burgers
Potatoes with other vegetables
Lentils
Curry
Noodles
Gatorade (for the Electrolytes)
Water (for hydration)
Soy milk instead of cows milk
No milk with iron supplements
Iron-caste pan
Chicken only when very anemic (for Heme iron)

I find that eating chicken helps substantially more than anything else in regard to my anemia. It even works far better than iron supplements. I really would like to not eat chicken and am looking for people in my predicament who are vegetarians. I don't eat chicken during those periods in which I feel well and energetic. At the moment, I'm very anemic. Exercise is difficult. I keep getting out-of-breath, and I'm sweating a lot due to getting out of breath, which makes me even more anemic and dehydrated. Any suggestions would also be appreciated.
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#2 Old 01-10-2012, 07:32 PM
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Hmmm, you're already doing the things I suggest to those concerned about iron. Hopefully someone here will have suggestions for you or some experience.
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#3 Old 01-10-2012, 09:07 PM
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Perhaps, it would help to know what works the best for others. I always end up subcoming to eating chicken when I get really anemic. I really don't want to do that. It would also be nice to hear from others who have problems with anemia. That would help.
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#4 Old 01-10-2012, 10:43 PM
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I'm not sure I have any advice for you - I didn't think chicken was high in iron, and also when I went vegetarian my low (but not anemic) iron levels actually went up.

Have you considered speaking to a veg-friendly nutritionist? When you've got lots of things working against you like that, getting professional advice can be really important.
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#5 Old 01-10-2012, 11:34 PM
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First, I would say to make sure you mix the acidic foods (like the tomatoes and citrus) with your spinach. The acids will help unbind the iron from the anti-nutrients that otherwise prevent it from being absorbed. If you aren't cooking your spinach, I would suggest trying that (just cooking lightly, at least, with tomatoes and lemon juice, for example- not only does it make it easier to eat more of it, it can break down some of the anti-nutritional factors to make it easier to digest). An alternative to cooking might be green smoothies (blend it up with acidic fruits).

Spinach is not an easy vegetable to get iron from, because while it contains quite a bit, most of it is bound to other molecules that prevent absorption. You have to be particular about preparation, and what you eat it with.

Avoid teas, coffee, and things like that. These contain additional tannins that can bind iron. Some spices also contain tannins (find a list online, and avoid them as well as you can).

Generally beans and grains are relatively high in tannins as well. When you take iron supplements, do it at the same time of day that you are eating citrus fruits, and not while eating beans or grains- or even nuts or seeds, to be safe.

Choose a time of day- for example, morning- where you only eat fruit, and take your iron supplements. Then in the evening, you can eat everything else (the high protein foods). You can also break it up, and have two fruit and iron meals each day, and then two protein meals with beans and grains- just don't do it at the same time (wait a few hours in between).

There are enzymes that will specifically break town tannins, but they are not commercially available to my knowledge. Some kinds of fermentation, however, may be useful to you.

Finally: Chicken liver may contain a fairly large amount of iron, but chicken itself does not. There's no reason to eat chicken for iron.
I hope that helps!

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#6 Old 01-11-2012, 02:12 AM
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Thanks Vepurusg. I will try your suggestions other than the oysters and see how it goes. I don't have any opinion about how low on the food chain oysters are. I just hate the taste of oysters. Way too bitter.

I always feel more energetic when I eat chicken. I could easily live without chicken if it weren't for the anemia. There is plenty of food that tastes better than chicken. I would rather not eat it.

I had assumed I was supposed to avoid tea and coffee due to the caffeine. I hadn't realized it was because they contained tannins, and I hadn't realized that tannins was in other things besides tea and coffee. I could have been eating foods with tannins and taking iron supplements at the same time. I usually take my iron supplements with food, except for caffeinated foods/beverages and foods/beverages containing calcium that is. If I eat chicken, I will take my iron supplements with the chicken. So thanks much for that info. I will research tannins on the Internet.
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#7 Old 01-11-2012, 03:00 AM
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Originally Posted by yogabliss View Post

I just hate the taste of oysters. Way too bitter.

I don't understand... Are you eating chicken for heme-iron, or are you eating it because you like the taste?

Chicken has very little iron in it. If you want to eat heme-iron, then the most reasonable choice is oysters (which is also the one with the least animal cruelty).

You may not enjoy the taste, but I didn't think you were eating chicken because it tasted good to you... I don't know your reasons for wanting to give up animals products, but sometimes it's just important for us to consider our motivations and look at things in perspective.

What's the trouble of choking down an oyster each day, really, in the grand scheme of things?

How much animal suffering would that overt? How much better for your health? (much!) And how much better for the environment?



Forgive me, but your description of the parts of the chicken gave me mental images that made me feel a little sick.
I think if you look at it more closely, you'll be able to feel the same way about it as you do about cows and pigs.

There are better options! (even for heme iron)

Oysters may not taste good to you right now, but if this is a matter of health rather than taste, then they are the clear winner. Even, if it's a matter of morality or environmental consciousness, they come out on top by far.

We all have to choke things down we don't like very much sometimes for health... and in time, tastes change


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Originally Posted by yogabliss View Post

I could easily live without chicken if it weren't for the anemia.

You can live without chicken with anemia as well, though. It wouldn't take much oyster to get you up to the right levels.

But that said, if you take your iron at the right time and avoid foods that will bind with it in the same meal, you shouldn't have a problem with pure plant iron and supplements either.


Here's a list for people trying to avoid migraines:

http://www.widomaker.com/~jnavia/tannins/tannlist.htm

It would be better for you to take the iron supplements with acidic fruits than with anything else. Spinach should be pretty neutral. It would probably be bad to take it with other very heavy foods.

I hope that helps! In either case, I know you can do it

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#8 Old 01-11-2012, 03:56 AM
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Originally Posted by vepurusg View Post

IForgive me, but your description of the parts of the chicken gave me mental images that made me feel a little sick.

+1. Very nauseating and sad. Can you please refrain from using such graphic descriptions in the future? The majority of us here are animal lovers or/and find meat eating extremely cruel along with repulsive.

Vepurusg has given some excellent advice. Here's another link that might be helpful:
http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/iron.htm
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#9 Old 01-11-2012, 05:01 AM
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Maybe try a different kind of iron supplements? My wife was low in iron and managed to up her levels quite considerably by taking a liquid type supplement called Floravital.

I didn't realise there was a type of anemia called oygen-deficiency anemia... Or are you saying you are oxygen deficient as a result of iron-deficiency anemia?

Also, are you certain you're not deficient in e.g. vitamin B12 as well? That can lead to a different kind of anemia. What are your sources of B12?

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#10 Old 01-11-2012, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Indian Summer View Post

Also, are you certain you're not deficient in e.g. vitamin B12 as well? That can lead to a different kind of anemia. What are your sources of B12?

That's a good point!

Many omnivores assume they are not at risk of B-12 deficiency, but it's actually surprisingly common- which is why I suspect that most of our historical B12 derived from unprocessed water and dirt (environmental bacteria) along with occasional coprophagy.

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#11 Old 01-11-2012, 06:29 AM
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Vepr, thank you for that great information on iron absorption. I work with brand-new mothers who are often anemic; I am going to research this more and do a little in-service for the other nurses. :thumbup:
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#12 Old 01-11-2012, 10:27 AM
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Vepr, thank you for that great information on iron absorption. I work with brand-new mothers who are often anemic; I am going to research this more and do a little in-service for the other nurses. :thumbup:

You're very welcome LedBoots, and thank you!

Personally, it's my hope that something like deer saliva enzymes can some day be produced commercially, and taken as supplements to break down tannins (maybe even packaged with the iron). It might be a particularly simple solution for people with digestive and absorption problems.

Until then, it seems there's just being careful about what you eat with what.

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#13 Old 01-11-2012, 12:02 PM
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MOD POST: Please refrain from detailed discussion of meat-eating. This thread contained (before editing) graphic discussion of meat eating as well as encouragement of animal consumption. Whether it be oysters, chicken or any animal - please stick to discussion of vegetarian alternatives.

Thanks!!
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#14 Old 01-11-2012, 12:44 PM
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Read up on using a cast iron pan with acidic foods - that greatly increases the iron in foods, up to 30x.

Also, why wouldn't you be able to have a ferritin infusion (IV) rather than a blood transfusion (?) to increase your iron stores? Some people have difficulty absorbing iron from foods, and supplements don't work for them, so they get infusions of ferritin.

Here's something about veganism and iron
http://veganhealth.org/articles/iron

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#15 Old 01-11-2012, 01:36 PM
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@Clarita Osita. I'm surprised your iron level went up. I guess everyone is different. You must not have trouble digesting non-heme iron.

No, I haven't considered speaking to a veg-friendly nutritionist. I'm short of money right now, and what I really need is a veg-friendly, Ulcerative Colitis-friendly nutritionist. Anyway, I am doing my own research. Posting on this forum is part of that research. I am hoping to get some information that will help. Vepurusg and others were very helpful.

@Vepurusg

I think all heme-iron comes from animals. Chicken is rich in heme iron.

I don't eat chicken for the taste. I have gone years without eating chicken. I can really do without it. I eat chicken only when I'm extremely anemic. I was comparing the taste of chicken with oysters. I don't think there is any food that tastes as bad as oysters.

Oysters, claims, ..., make my throat convulse when I try to eat them. That's how bad they taste. And I think there is a gross factor too. Eating oysters is gross.

Anemia is a really big problem for me. I loose a ton of blood when my colon flares. Sometimes it comes out like pee. Many times, I pass blood clots too. It is very dangerous. People with Ulcerative Colitis have to take very strong medications to stop the flares, and if the medicines don't work, we have to get our colons surgically removed.

This last flare appears to be over. At least I hope so. Anyway, I ended up staying mostly in bed for about three weeks. When I went to see the doctor and got my urine and blood tested, I found out that I was extremely dehydrated and extremely anemic. The doctor said my urine was just about as concentrated as it could get. She also suggested a blood transfusion but said I could go without it if I don't start bleeding again. She is more concerned about the flare than the dehydration or anemia. I drank lots of fluids and started eating chicken soup. I am feeling much better although I'm still very anemic. I would like to fix my anemia as quickly as possible without resorting to eating animals. I do not plan to eat any more chicken. I am also looking for answers so that I don't end up eating chicken again if I end up flaring and getting extremely weak. (With a previous flare I had about five years ago, I was so weak, I was sleeping on the bathroom floor.)

@fadeaway1289

I can understand that the graphic imagery upsets you. It's quite gross to make the chicken. It's not a pleasant feeling to go buy a chicken and eat it. Anyway, I got descriptive because I was trying to clarify the misunderstanding that I ate only the meat. I wanted to explain exactly what parts of the chicken I ate because different parts have different nutrients. And then there is the consideration that I'm eating it as a soup; so it's probably also helping with the dehydration as well as the anemia. Anyway, how else could I explain about the bones without being descriptive? Bones aren't edible.

Thanks for the link.

@Indian Summer

I take Slow-Fe. It's recommended by doctors and the Ulcerative Colitis community. We have issues with iron supplements making our flare symptoms worse. Slow-Fe is timed released.

Yes. There is a type of anemia that is due to the blood not having enough oxygen. This type of anemia is due to not having enough red blood cells. I get extremely out of breath when I exercise and end up sweating a lot, exacerbating the dehydration. I'm drinking Gatorade for that. I don't know what else to do. If anyone has any suggestions, I would appreciate it.

Yes. I'm most likely deficient in B-12 as well. Many people who have Ulcerative Colitis are deficient in B-12, not only because of the blood lose. We also don't absorb B-12 well. I'm taking a B-complex vitamin for that.

@paisleyjane

Alright

@Irizary

I don't know about the ferritin infusion. I will ask my doctor. I've lost quite a lot of blood. That's probably why the doctor suggested a blood transfusion if I wanted it.

Yes. People with Ulcerative Colitis have digestive issues. We don't digest foods as well as normal people.

Thanks for the link.
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#16 Old 01-12-2012, 12:13 AM
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I'm only pointing this out to be sure, and not to say you're dumb or don't pay attention - did you make sure your B-complex vitamin actually has B12? The reason I'm asking is because I've seen a fair amount of B-complex vitamins that actually don't have B12 in them for some reason.
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#17 Old 01-12-2012, 02:08 AM
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@Clarita Osita

Most definitely. But thanks for asking.

The B-complex I take contains Vitamin C (25%), Niacin (100%), Vitamin B-6 (100%), Folic Acid (100%), Vitamin B-12 (500%), Biotin (25%), and Pantothenic acid (100%).

Most B-complex vitamins contain 1000+% of water-soluble B vitamins. However, it's been discovered that one of the B vitamins isn't water soluble as originally thought; so I prefer taking B vitamins with a dosage close to 100%. This one is like that, except for the B-12, which is 500%. However, most likely I'm quite low on B-12.
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#18 Old 01-12-2012, 03:41 PM
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@Indian Summer

I went to Whole Foods today and saw the Floravital Iron &Herbs concoction you mentioned. It has other ingredients in it, such as B-6 and B-12, which are also good. It does contain fruit juices, which make my Ulcerative Colitis symptoms worse. But I figure two caps of fruit juice a day isn't that much. I bought one, large bottle and will try it. Thanks for the recommendation.
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#19 Old 01-12-2012, 04:43 PM
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Maybe try a different kind of iron supplements? My wife was low in iron and managed to up her levels quite considerably by taking a liquid type supplement called Floravital.

I didn't realise there was a type of anemia called oygen-deficiency anemia... Or are you saying you are oxygen deficient as a result of iron-deficiency anemia?

Also, are you certain you're not deficient in e.g. vitamin B12 as well? That can lead to a different kind of anemia. What are your sources of B12?

I think I am suffering symptoms of low iron, also. Did your wife have any problems with constipation after starting this supplement?

Thanks, Laura
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#20 Old 01-12-2012, 05:21 PM
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try including more than spinach. eat, for example, kale, romaine, and chard as well.
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#21 Old 01-13-2012, 01:58 AM
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try including more than spinach. eat, for example, kale, romaine, and chard as well.

Good advice. Just make sure you cook them and eat with something like citrus, or tomatoes. Or maybe just sprinkle with vitamin C. Vitamin C tastes a bit strange on its own, though. Spinach is much better with lemon or tomato.

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#22 Old 01-13-2012, 03:46 AM
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I'm not understanding your need for chicken, which is a lower heme iron source than most. If you have a need for heme iron, that's what in most supplemants.
I also overcame anemia after I gave up meats (completely), and still am now that I'm vegan.

Lots of good info here, again i recommend the use of cast iron pans, esp. for acidic foods like tomatoes.

You don't say why you feel you need heme based iron sources?

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#23 Old 01-13-2012, 09:02 AM
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I also have UC (or possibly Crohn's) so I know what you're going through. I was going to recommend the Floravital, which works for me bit it looks like that has been covered I would also recommend a sublingual B12 supplement for easier absorption.
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#24 Old 01-13-2012, 05:56 PM
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When it comes down to it, I don't enjoy eating animals, especially when there are other alternatives out there. I would prefer not to eat animals, and I don't have any plans to do so in the future.

I am still getting really, really out of breath easily. There is no way I can do the activities/exercise I did only six months ago. I want to get back to normal. I don't like being so weak. I don't want to eat chicken soup. So I am seeking suggestions/recommendations.
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#25 Old 01-13-2012, 06:01 PM
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@Fyvel

It's so nice to meet someone who also has UC, although I'm sorry you have it. I hope you don't have Chron's.
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#26 Old 01-13-2012, 06:34 PM
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Wow. For someone who says they would prefer not to eat meat, you sure do love to talk about it in detail!

You say you eat chicken because it's easier than other animals, and compare it to processed turkey. If you HAVE to have heme iron, why would the taste, or texture, keep you from eating less from sources that are higher in heme iron? Chicken is not, and if the it's the palatability that attracts you, I see no desire on your part to become vegetarian.

On this top ten list (not veggie oriented site either) chicken doesn't even rate. Herbs are the number source. I could easily get 100% of RDA from herbs alone, in food and steeped in teas.

You haven't said anything about WHY you need heme iron. You mention being under a doctors care, so why come here to discuss animal parts, inferring you need it, then say you don't plan on eating meat in the future?

You want recommendations from this site- eat more plant foods that are high in iron, with vit C and cast iron cooking, avoid tannins, and quit eating animals. If you need to, you can supplement. I haven't been able to find info on the web that prevents uc or chrons sufferers to be vegetarian, only more of the information we've provided.

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#27 Old 01-13-2012, 10:13 PM
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@silva

Whooo....

I am a very frank person--just like you are with your judgements and criticisms of me.

You asked me to explain why I ate chicken when I was extremely weak, dehydrated, and anemic, and not some other animal or no animal at all, and I did explain it. And then you criticized me for explaining it to you. What did you want me to say? Did you want me to say that I felt so guilty about eating the chicken that I wanted to go kill myself? Well, that's not going to happen. The past is the past. What's important is the future. That's why I came on this forum--to find alternatives in case I have another serious flare and to find suggestions/recommendations for my condition today.

No, the palatability of chicken does not attract me. I ate it for my health. I already explained that. I'm tired of trying to explain it. I will only be criticized again if I explain it further. So there is really no point in my doing so. Either you understand, or you don't.

Normally, I don't eat animals. I have gone long periods without eating any animals. I would much rather eat something else. But I have eaten animals in the past. In fact, I grew up eating animals. I'm sorry you can't understand that. Perhaps, to you being a vegetarian is an all-or-nothing thing. Perhaps, you have never eaten meat and you are afraid that if you ate meat today, then you would be tempted to eat meat tomorrow because you find meat palatable. It doesn't work like that for me. I take one day at a time. There are plenty of foods to choose from that I love the taste of that aren't animals. So I choose them, and before I know it six months, one year, two years, ... has gone by. And not only do I find that I didn't eat any animals during that time, but the thought of eating animals makes me feel ewwy.
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#28 Old 01-14-2012, 01:08 AM
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@silva

Whooo....

I am a very frank person--just like you are with your judgements and criticisms of me.

Please don't mind silva.

What would probably have been better to say is not to explain you ate it for health- but that you ate it due to a misconception that it was healthy. Your explanation makes it sound like you still believe it is a good source of iron (and I think that's what is being argued against).

Being mistaken in the past is certainly no crime- we all make mistakes, and hopefully we learn from them (and, of course, that's why you came here! ). I think silva is just offended by the implied suggestion that chicken soup would be good for you- not that you ate it due to a misunderstanding.

I hope I understood everybody's position well enough and that this clarified it.
We're all good people here, right?

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#29 Old 01-14-2012, 04:55 AM
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MOD POST:

Please refrain from graphic descriptions of eating animals.

That being said, I agree with vepurusg. The important thing is the action you take now, not what you did in the past.

Yogabliss, it sounds like you are sincere about wanting to cure your anemia without eating animals and I think that's fantastic. There's a lot of great advice in this thread for plant based iron sources, I hope you find a solution that works for you.

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#30 Old 01-14-2012, 03:43 PM
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@vepurusg

I don't enjoy eating animals and would prefer to get my health back to normal without eating them. I just found out on another post that eggs aren't fertile. So I will try eating eggs. I figure it's better to eat an egg than a chicken if the egg isn't fertile. I do find it gross to eat eggs though. But unlike oysters, I can chuck them down.
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