Why Am I Craving Meat? | 7 Possible Reasons

You might be craving meat for several reasons, but one of the most common explanations is that your body is trying to get some protein.

Protein is an essential nutrient that helps build and repair tissues in the body, so if you aren’t getting enough from your diet, the body may start sending signals to eat more protein-rich foods. And this can manifest as a craving for meat or other animal products.

There are other potential reasons for meat cravings, and we will explore them below.

Possible Reasons You Are Craving Meat

1. Nutritional deficiencies

Like protein deficiency, the body may crave meat if it lacks iron or B12, commonly found in animal products. These nutrients play essential roles in the body, such as carrying oxygen through the blood and maintaining brain function.

In that case, you should satisfy your craving with lean meats such as chicken, fish, or turkey to ensure you get enough protein and other essential nutrients. Besides eating meat, you can also get these nutrients from plant-based sources like legumes, leafy greens, and fortified foods.

2. Hormonal imbalances

Hormones, specifically testosterone and estrogen, can affect food cravings. In one study, women with higher testosterone levels were found to have a greater desire for protein-rich foods like meat.

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If you suspect hormonal imbalances could be responsible for your meat cravings, speak with a healthcare provider who can help you with this issue.

3. Emotional and stress-related factors

Sometimes cravings for a specific type of food may be rooted in emotions or past experiences. For example, if you grew up with meat as a central part of family meals, it may remind you of happy times and evoke an emotional response.

Stress can also trigger cravings for certain foods, including meat. This is because the hormone cortisol, released during stress, can increase appetite and cravings for high-fat and high-protein foods.

If this happens to you, try finding healthy and satisfying alternatives to meat, such as tofu, tempeh, lentils, or beans. It can also be helpful to find ways to manage stress through exercise, therapy, or other relaxation techniques.

4. Not eating enough meat

If you have recently made a dietary change, such as going vegetarian or vegan, it is not uncommon to experience cravings for meat.

Your body may be adjusting to the new diet and missing certain nutrients, or it could be a psychological response due to ingrained habits and behaviors.

In this case, try finding plant-based foods that can provide similar nutrients as meat, such as tofu, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Supplements may also help ensure you are getting enough essential nutrients.

It might also help to ease into the dietary change and give yourself time to adjust.

5. Overeating processed meat

Overeating processed meat, such as hot dogs and deli meats, can cause your body to crave it even more. 

This happens because processed meats often contain additives such as nitrates, which trigger dopamine release in the brain and create a pleasurable sensation.

Try incorporating more whole foods into your diet and limit your intake of processed meats.

6. Injuries Take Long to Heal

If you notice that injuries take longer than usual to heal, it could signify protein deficiency and the body’s need for meat or other protein sources. Without enough protein, the body cannot properly build and repair tissues.

Add lean meats or plant-based protein sources to your diet to get the nutrients your body needs. It may also be helpful to speak with your doctor about your condition and get professional advice. 

7. Heavy Menstrual Flow

Women with heavy periods may be deficient in iron and Vitamin B, which can lead to cravings for meat and other sources of these nutrients.

The urge may be intense for those on a meat-free diet, as plant-based sources of iron and Vitamin B12 are not easily absorbed by the body.

Get more iron-rich foods into your diet, including red meat, poultry, beans, lentils, and fortified cereals. Also, consult your doctor about any potential deficiencies and if supplementing with iron or Vitamin B12 may be necessary.

The Implications of Consistently Satisfying Meat Cravings

While satisfying your meat cravings can provide immediate pleasure, consider the bigger picture and potential long-term effects.

Overeating meat can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It can also contribute to environmental issues like deforestation and pollution.

So, eat meat in moderation and always have a baanced diet. If your meat craving is intense or uncontrollable, get medical help

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it bad to crave meat? 

It is not inherently bad to crave meat, but you should consider the potential implications of over-indulging. You’re okay if you’re not consuming too much meat and eating a balanced diet. 

Can vegetarians crave meat? 

Yes, it is not uncommon for vegetarians or vegans to experience cravings for meat. This could be due to a physiological response or psychological habits and behaviors. 

Finding plant-based meat alternatives containing similar nutrients or incorporating more whole foods into the diet can help address these cravings.

Final Thoughts on Meat Craving

Experiencing cravings for meat is normal and can happen to anyone. Listen to your body’s needs and find ways to satisfy your appetite with a balanced and healthy diet. 

Remember to consider the wider implications of your dietary choices, including their impact on your health and the environment.

But if your craving results from habit, behavior, stress, or hormonal imbalance, it may also be helpful to explore these deeper root causes and address them. 

Consulting with a healthcare provider or nutritionist can also be beneficial in creating a sustainable and balanced way to handle meat cravings.

Jude Uchella is a research writer and a strong advocate for health and fitness. He takes pleasure in helping people live their best life. When he's not writing, he's probably researching the next topic to write about. :)