What I Learned During “No Meat November”

30 11 2010

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!




2 responses

30 11 2010

This is such an interesting subject! I think you are taking the right approach with it. Listen to your body and do what it needs. I just read a blog post on another cooking site, Voracious, about a vegan who returned to a meat eating diet because her body needed the natural nutrients that meat and meat by-products contain that you can’t get by taking vitamins and supplements.

Different lifestyles work for different people, but the bottom line is you have to listen to your body!

30 11 2010

Hi Elaine, I read that same blog post on Voracious and found it quite interesting. I think you are 100% right – everyone is different, and what’s right for one person isn’t for another. Thank you for your comment!

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