What I Learned During “No Meat November”

Since Test Kitchen Tuesday didn’t exist when I started doing a little experiment I dubbed No Meat November, you may be scratching your head a little on this one. And, you may think I have a thing for slightly imperfect alliterations…

Despite our short history together, I reckoned the outcome of NMN was worthy of discussion, so I wanted to share a little with you, and hear any comments if you have dabbled with (or maintain a) meat-free diet.

Why No Meat November? Vegetable Bounty
In my case, it’s really a fairly simple reason: I read a lot of vegetarian and vegan-focused food blogs, and they are so interesting and thought-provoking that I have been weaning down my meat consumption considerably without really trying. It has been sort of a side-effect of the blogs I read, as I’m always trying new vegetarian and vegan recipes.

I know for a lot of people, deciding to temporarily or permanently eat vegetarian is a big decision with lots of very important reasons behind it, but I think it was just sort of a natural progression for me. I do consider animal rights and environmental issues very important; however, in this case, those items weren’t the driving factor.

I have never really been that big of a meat eater, though I do confess to enjoying a good hamburger now and then. 2Chili, on the other hand, is definitely a meat eater. So, the real challenge of No Meat November was not what to feed myself, it was what to make so that we would both be happy. I had no intention of inconveniencing him if I could help it, and I think for the most part, I succeeded.

How Did it Go?
No Meat November was surprisingly uneventful. I reckon this is because I was already eating very healthily, that the omission of a small fraction of my diet didn’t really change anything. General observations:

  • My weight did not change. I am at a happy weight, and wasn’t trying to lose weight at all, but some folks I know insinuated that I would melt away to nothing by not eating meat. Not true. I am 1/2 pound less today than I was November 1; so, the let’s call that the same.
  • My mood was better than ever. Honestly, I have felt super optimistic and positive all  month long. I am generally pretty content, but, I have been especially so this past month. I can’t solely point this to not eating meat, of course. Perhaps I just had a good month.
  • I easily consumed plenty of protein every day. I think most non-vegetarians believe you can’t get enough protein on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Or, you have to eat tons of processed soy products like tofu and textured vegetable protein to do so. Now, I can’t speak for a vegan diet, because I did still eat cage free veg-fed eggs, organic skim milk, and organic Greek yogurt and cheese. And, I love my honey. We only had tofu once during November and I was getting on average about 110-120 grams of protein in a day from a variety of sources, including plenty of grains and legumes, which is more than plenty for a female athlete. My diet is generally 60% carbs/20% fat/20% protein, and I had no problem fulfilling those ratios.
  • I didn’t have a hard time finding vegetarian options the times we ate out.
    • The biggest challenge was at Wendy’s, 2Chili’s weekday spot to grab, well, chili. After one very frustrating visit, I figured out to order an Apple Chicken Pecan Salad, and ask for no chicken, and then add some chickpeas I brought from home. Easy peasy.
    • The biggest surprise was at Azteca, a local Mexican food chain, which had a pretty big vegetarian section of their menu, including really good veggie fajitas. Really good.
  • 2Chili was very supportive, and ate pretty much whatever I served him. If I was eating something really far out there, I made him a separate dinner. And, even though I offered to do it, he proudly cooked his own Thanksgiving dinner of turkey breast, creamed corn, his mom’s traditional stuffing, and, cranberry from a can (the only way he likes it – with ridges still in tact).

Moving Forward
The natural next question is if I’ll keep this up or not. I have thought a lot about this and don’t have a great answer. I feel good, have not been inconvenienced in the slightest, and our grocery bill went down. I decided to not put pressure on myself to make a firm decision, but rather, do whatever feels natural over the coming months. If I eat meat, it will be because I want to, not because I feel some sort of social pressure.

What about you? Do you, or have you tried eating a vegetarian diet? Do share your experiences!

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