A year and nine months ago I made the switch from omnivore to herbivore. The transition was a grueling process. While I continued to eat milk-based products, I gave up eggs. I learned a lot about food along the way. For example, eggs and other animal byproducts lurk hidden in foods that one would think are entirely non-animal. A case in point: castoreum is an ingredient used in many raspberry and vanilla products. It is made from the oil that beavers produce in their nether regions (i.e., beaver butt juice). This additive may be cleverly disguised as “natural flavors” in the product’s list of ingredients. Not something I wanted to think about when drinking a vanilla crème soda….
It took several months to figure out what to eat and what to avoid. Eventually I managed to get the vegetarian thing on automatic.
Now I’m facing another vertical learning curve with food. A few weeks ago I went to the doctor because of a couple allergic reactions I was having. One reaction was to poison ivy and the other was to “God only knows what,” according to my allergist. He wasn’t too worried about the unidentified allergen because it responded well to Benadryl. However, I found out while I was at the doctor that I’m vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficient. And so the vegetarian saga continues. My doctor prescribed prescription-strength vitamin D and a weekly shot of B12. I’m not crazy about the idea of taking vitamins; I’d rather get my nutrients from the food I eat. And the thought of having to get a weekly shot of a vitamin didn’t work at all in my head.
“Can’t I just go sit in the sun and drink milk?” I whined.
As it turns out, I’d have to drink about four cups of milk a day to get my RDA of B-12. That’s way more milk drinking than I’m willing to do on a daily basis.
I reluctantly agreed to take the vitamin D on a short-term basis, but I said heck no to the weekly B-12 shots. Realistically vitamins, enriched soymilk, and fortified cereal aren’t viable options – I don’t like any of these things well enough to eat them on a regular basis. Red Star Nutritional Yeast – too complicated. I bought some three weeks ago and have yet to use it. I need something motivating that I’ll actually eat. So I’m back to doing food research. It turns out that shellfish are one the best food sources for B12. Three ounces of oysters provide over 1000% DV of B-12. I’ll be adding a smidgeon of oysters to my weekly diet until I can figure out a better solution.
Any vegetarian readers out there who can offer up some ideas? How are you getting your B-12?