Plus: why you might want to the same. 

By Blake Bakkila
Updated June 20, 2018

Moms-to-be are famous for having curious cravings. From pickles to peanut butter, certain foods can become especially appealing when a woman is expecting. Fitness influencer Carly Rowena knows the feeling: The longtime pescatraian recently shared her own surprising pregnancy craving: burgers!

In an Instagram post, Rowena admitted that pregnancy has helped her recognize how restrictive her prior diet was: “[M]y meals were always planned around a protein source and a whole lot of veggies,” she wrote. “My first trimester was hardest, all my bump craved was marmite sandwiches, chocolate [Weetabix] minis, salt on EVERYTHING, meat and ZERO veggies.”

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While Rowena was concerned about potential criticism for abandoning her pescatarian ways, she couldn’t help but acknowledge the “hanger” she was experiencing: “I’ve been pescatarian for 3 years and I’m nervous of the online hate I’m going to get but this baby wanted meat & the smell of fish was enough to make me vomit,” she wrote. “I took the supplements, I went to the [doctors’] over and over … I was told to listen to my body, so yes, I had a chicken dish once a week during the first trimester. I hated the taste & would often shut my eyes but I can’t even tell you how much better I felt afterwards.”

Rowena said that now that she’s in her second trimester, her meat cravings are almost gone. In the comments on her post, many women shared similar stories about wanting meat while pregnant. But how common is it to feel this way? We talked to a couple of experts about why carrying a baby could turn you into a carnivore.

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Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, a nutritionist near San Diego, says red meat cravings are very common, even for those women who eat a primarily vegetarian diet.

“While there isn’t strong evidence as to exactly ‘why’ per se, pregnancy does create increased needs for protein and iron and energy being channeled to support the developing fetus,” she tells Health. “Red meat hits on all of these. And sometimes, the aroma—if a person is in the presence of meat at a restaurant, for example—may also influencer the craving.”

Another reason could be that red meat offers umami, adds Bazilian. This savory, satisfying flavor might be enough to draw expecting moms to the nearest drive-thru. If you intend to be meat-free throughout your pregnancy, however, Bazilian suggests eating full-fat dairy, hard cheeses that are pasteurized, or eggs to curb the cravings. And tossing mushrooms into your dish could provide some umami, without compromising your meatless commitment.

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Megan Roosevelt, RD, founder of HealthyGroceryGirl.com, had some animal product hankerings of her own while she was pregnant. “I eat a predominately plant-based diet, however during my pregnancy I craved eggs and that could be because eggs contains choline, an important B-vitamin for baby’s brain development!” she says.

“One tip, with food cravings it's important to assess your craving first to determine if you’re trying to satisfy a different need," Roosevelt adds. "For example, are you tired, lonely, bored, or did you just see a commercial about cake and now you’re craving cake? In these situations, drink a glass of water (you may just be thirsty!) and eat a healthy, balanced snack or meal. You may notice that your craving subsides.”

So if you find yourself daydreaming about diving into a Double Whopper, don’t feel discouraged. After evaluating your “need” for meat, opt for one of our experts’ swaps, or use Rowena’s solution: listen to your body and take a bite.