Lately I’ve been noticing persistent, intense cravings for food that I don’t normally eat (salmon, greek yogurt, eggs, chicken). Whenever I’ve had these cravings in the past, I would feel really conflicted because I have deep compassion for animals and all beings, and yet I’m a firm believer that cravings for groups of food (in my case, animal-based proteins) may be a sign of deficiency in one’s diet. My most recent craving for salmon has been going on for a few months. In the past, there were a few times where my non-vegan cravings were so intense that I *may* have indulged in some non-vegan food, which led to confusion about my own veganism and a lot of self-judgment. Recently, I’ve been feeling confused because I take a vitamin with algal-based omega 3’s so I feel like I take in enough of this essential fatty acid to keep fish cravings away.
I value authenticity and this includes my blog and my social media. I sometimes really struggle with honoring my body’s non-junk food cravings and being true to my personal ethics of not harming others (animals included). For the past few years (typically in the winter months), I find my body (or mind?) particularly craves heavier protein (from animal sources) and I proceed to spend months vacillating between staying true to my values and rationalizing why I should indulge in my persistent cravings. I also spend time and effort doing research on the best sources of plant-based protein and amino acids, and make an effort to include at least 50-60 grams of protein each day (which based on my weight and activity level meets the recommended requirements–but may not be enough based on lab work and other symptoms).
There are so many reasons why veganism is important to me, to name a few: I don’t want to participate in the mistreatment/abuse/slaughter of innocent animals, concerns about the environment and the sustainability of our current factory-farming system, my religious/spiritual beliefs of ahimsa (sanskrit for “do no harm to others”), health reasons, and the fact that I was never much of a meat-eater as a child, I became a vegan at 15, and it just kind of became my natural way of eating.
As a nutrition professional, someone with a master’s degree in nutrition, and a soon to be registered dietitian, if someone came to me stating that they had persistent cravings for certain foods (not junk foods, but foods with actual nutrients), I would examine their diet, and then make recommendations. I would also check their blood work (if available), and ask them if they had any symptoms of a nutrient deficiency (fatigue, slow healing, light-headedness, hair loss, brittle nails, etc.). I would never force my own personal beliefs on someone, as most people aren’t vegan, and a sure-fire way to make people defensive is to press your beliefs on someone. I would probably recommend that this hypothetical client/patient include more protein in their diet (I would first recommend plant-based protein but if they wanted an animal-based protein, I can’t pressure them to be vegan/vegetarian).
I’m not one of my clients/patients, but I have been taking my own advice and eating more protein; however, the idea to just eat what I crave (animal based protein) is met with feelings of guilt and confusion. It seems like this conundrum might just be a part of my life that I’ll have to deal with as both an empathetic person, as someone who is well-versed in nutrition, and as someone who believes in honoring body, mind, and soul.
Because the craving for salmon is so specific, and because I know so much about nutrition, I’m thinking that maybe my vitamin with omega 3’s isn’t enough. I’ve started including more whole food-based sources of omega 3’s that aren’t from a supplement. One delicious source of omega 3 fatty acids are walnuts. I was never a huge fan of walnuts, but I do love nut-butters, so I decided to see if I could make a walnut butter, and I was impressed about how it came out. Below is the recipe for my walnut butter creation.
Oh-Mega Chai Spice Walnut Butter
- 1 cup raw walnuts (I used 365 Whole Foods Market brand)
- 1 tbsp. organic virgin coconut oil (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
- 2-4 tbsp. chai tea (I used pre-made tea from Oregon Spice brand)
- 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. Vermont maple syrup
Measure ingredients and mix until blended smooth in a food processor. Enjoy, or store in the fridge. To soften, microwave for 45 seconds.
This nut butter makes a delicious addition to oatmeal and tastes amazing on toast. I had it mixed with dairy free cashew yogurt + jam and topped it on my favorite sprouted grain toast. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Have you ever experienced persistent cravings for a particular food/group of food? How did you deal with it? Are you a vegan/vegetarian who struggles with a similar issue? Feel free to share or comment on this post or through my instagram account @vitaminvalentine